Updated: Apr 15, 2020
There are 44 Million people in Uganda, but there are on 55 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds. What the Ugandan government spends on health care is one of the lowest in the world.
However, the challenge is not the risk or number of individuals being infected by the virus, but the impact to the already vulnerable and at risk population due to the strict measures put in place by Uganda's government. Unlike the US and other countries, where essential workers have been allowed to work and individuals can still leave their home to get essential items, Uganda has COMPLETELY shutdown everything: access to businesses and transportation, therefore access to food and healthcare.
Social distancing is almost impossible as the average household has 7-10 people living in it.
Social Distancing and Quarantine Are A Double Edge Sword
Imagine 7-10 individuals sharing a mud hut, you can not go outside of your home due to a curfew. You can't leave the premises of your compound at all. You are sick and have no means of transportation and the nearest hospital is at least a days walk? Your household harvest ran out, but it wasn't much anyways b/c you have less than .25 of an acre to live and sow your crop on and the last few years you have experienced drought. Your one meal a day has now turned into 1 meal every 2-3 days. Are you gonna starve to death first or get COVID-19?
You don't have Fast Food or Amazon Prime Delivery, or UberEats to bring you food. You don't have an opportunity to file for unemployment or receive food stamps. What is that?
Toilet paper has never been an issue because you have no bathroom or cold tile floor to lay on when you are sick. You lay in the dirt of your mud hut, or the dirt on the ground. You use the bathroom next to the wall of your house and when it rains, not only does your own waste come in, but the human and animall waste of others.
COVID-19 Increases Food Scarcity and Human Trafficking Risk
You are a 9 year old girl and you don't know what the hell is going on, but you and your family are starving and you can't leave the 8x8 mud hut room that you share with your mom, dad and 6 other siblings. The meals you were receiving a few times a week have stopped. You can't go out to play or even go to school. The next thing you know, you are being dragged from your home by a man you don't know in exchange for a few chickens and a bag of beans. You are taken to another village where you are forced to sleep outside. But this mud hut is bigger, has other children sleeping on mats and food cooking on a rocket stove. You are summoned to come inside raped, beaten and sent back outside in the night with no food. This will continue each day either until you are dead, or the man who bought you with the chicken and beans dies. Your family sold you for food, to be a sex slave to a man who saw a desperate family and wanted to help. True story. There are worse.
Or you are the orphaned teenager, caring for your siblings because your mother died giving child birth to your now 3 year old brother. Or both of your parents died from illness, or abandoned you b/c they couldn't care for you. So you offer to sell yourself for food for your siblings and for yourself.
Unfortunately it doesn't take a pandemic to create this scenario. It happens daily in countries like Uganda. It takes a pandemic to reverse all the hard work trying to change the mindset of families from doing this and external resources and NGO's working to build schools to keep children safe from this activity.
COVID-19 has not had the effect on Uganda with the high number of cases and deaths as it has other countries. Not yet at least. Its been a month and a half and the government just mandated another extension for 21 days. Uganda will reap the repercussions of this for several years.
The government has put in strict measures limiting movement and economic activity to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus. This includes shutting down all schools and forcing even orphaned children to return back to the streets facing abuse and being forced into slave labor situations. This also means that families who were extremely dependent food from local markets and road side stands can no longer access them. Even the roadside stands and city markets experienced food waste due to the food rotting.
With transportation also being shutdown, individuals are unable to access healthcare. A women passed away this week due to going into labor and attempting to walk several hours to a hospital to get help due to complications.
Uganda needs more than a cure, they need our help, to provide even the basic necessities for survival. We are all in this together and we need each other more than anything, especially those who are in more dire situations than we could even imagine.
A one time donation of $30.00 will feed a family of 7 in Uganda for one month.
While The Boon Project has not officially kicked-off yet, our goal was to start our work this fall. This project is needed more than ever now to ensure that our communities we are working in will be able to avoid starvation and be sustainable through the next pandemic. So it is even more important that we begin our projects as soon as possible to get agricultural production improved, scaled and diversified so that our communities can grow food not only to sell and receive a consistent household income, but also to have rations set aside in the event of another pandemic or worse disaster.
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