The virus changes lives in Uganda.

Dear Friends, it’s been some time since I wrote to you. I wrote this message in particular for all the sponsors of the students, my ‘ family’, we support in Uganda but I hope you all find it interesting too.

I’ve been busy rearranging life for the young people in Uganda we support. It’s getting terrible out there though they are only at the beginning of  the virus spread. So many people are being beaten, whipped and worse and that’s not because they have the virus!! There is a 7 pm curfew and the police are beating people young or old, male or female (and heavily pregnant!) even if they just leave their doors open!

Basically it has became a police state overnight. The police are poorly trained and very poorly paid and seem to love the opportunity of throwing their weight about, unfortunately violently!

Thankfully most of my young friends are now home in their villages where I’m hoping it will be  safer but that wasn’t easy to achieve as all public transport was suddenly cancelled! The Ugandan government never seem to care what happens to the ordinary people, just those with money. It’s really upsetting me. Before long there is likely to be starvation in many areas too. I’ve sent money out for them all to buy in sacks of grain and beans to last a couple of months but even that is a problem as food is going to the highest bidder, and theft follows those who manage to buy. It’s horrendous!

Innocent had to close his bar two weeks ago and no motorised travelling is allowed unless you are delivering something essential, beer is not essential! He is keeping a close eye on his bar but we both know it will be ransacked sometime! I’ve just told him not to risk himself fighting anybody away. Life is just too precious. He, Betty, Alex and little Norman are working together on some land they rent to grow more crops both for themselves and their animals.

The small earnings Innocent made from the bar helped with feeding but now who knows when it will open again or if any of the local people will have any spare money to go there!

At the moment Innocent is trying to get Nico, the young man we started sponsoring this year, who is profoundly deaf, back from Kamuli. Nico is doing a carpentry apprenticeship and being helped with learning to communicate with the hearing by a wonderful teacher for the deaf who he is also boarding with. It seems the only way is to bribe one of the delivery trucks on their way back to Jinja to give Nico a lift back home to Nawanyago. Hoping he makes it back soon.

During this time at home I’ve asked Innocent to talk as much as possible in English to Alex, rather than their local language. Alex is the son of a distant relative with mental health issues who abandoned his family, whose wife then fell on very hard times not able to feed or educate her children. He now lives full time with Innocent, and has recently been sponsored by another wonderful lady, to go to secondary school. He is 16 but knows very little English which is crucial as all teaching, books and exams are in English. With Innocents help during the time of this virus I hope his English will improve so that he is able to get on better with his studies when he returns to school.

Paul, who is studying Clinical Medicine and Community Health at uni, travelled 400,000 km back from Western Uganda and arrived in his village just before the public transport was cancelled, so did his little brother Emma. Now they are at home busy helping their mum Monica with the garden (garden is what the Ugandan villagers call their fields). I’ve also asked Paul to give Emma English lessons to help him improve, as his lack of English language and reading is holding him back a bit at school too. Both Alex and Emma’s previous education was of a very low standard but they are very bright boys and love school.

Paul’s family get updates on the virus over the little battery run transistor radio I bought their mum years ago. Only problem is that the info is often rather worrying! The Ugandan government are telling everyone the emergency will be over by the end of April and that schools will reopen, which is only a few weeks away now, but I can’t see that happening without risking many more lives. Though they do not have many confirmed cases so far. I’ve warned my young friends they might not be back at uni/school any time soon, and also informed them about ways to keep safe. Fortunately they believe me and take my advice, though of course with no running water washing your hands regularly is more difficult than it is here!

Bosco was unable to get his wife and toddler back to the village so they are staying with him in Jinja town where Bosco is a nurse at one of the hospitals.

Mike who was working in a restaurant is now also working in a hospital as a ‘deep cleaner’, such an important job at the moment.

As well as being good friends I rely on these young people to look after me during my visits to Uganda.

Innocent, Paul, Mike and Bosco have also all helped me deliver the 1700 mosquito nets you have funded over the last two years too!

I am very proud of my family in Uganda and it’s all due to people like yourselves who help us to give them an education that they all desire. Thank you 😊

The virus spreading across Uganda is a great worry to me, I feel so useless sometimes but there’s no more we can do, except pray and hope, just as we’re doing for everyone here in the UK.

Love and hugs to you all and please, stay safe xxx Pease click on first photo for slideshow and captions

Since writing this I have received more news of Nico. He has gone to live with his teacher and his family so he can continue to have his lessons in communication. He is so happy as this is the first time in his life he has someone who understands him! He looks forward to returning to the workshop when things return to normal.

Also the government have taken steps to curb the police violence!

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