Oh, the coronavirus. It is all people are talking about these days! It has been really interesting to watch from my small-town home in East Africa. The virus hasn’t reached us here in Uganda yet, and I am thankful for that. I am hoping and praying that it magically stays away, because I know that as soon as it reaches Uganda, it is going to be extremely hard on this country.
It will be hard for people to quarantine in a country where it is common for 15+ people live in one home. It will be hard for everyone in the slums where hundreds of people live in extremely close quarters with a major lack of sanitation and clean toilets. It will be hard in a culture where VERY few people can stock up on food because:
- Power is unreliable and goes out frequently, therefore stockpiling food in your fridge/freezer is not a reliable option.
- Most people struggle to afford money for that very day, let alone buy enough food to get through a few weeks of quarantine.
- Most people make money by running their own business, and how will they have any income if they are home and the business is closed?
So far there are a few cases in Kenya and Rwanda, which neighbor Uganda. There are no reported cases here yet, but everyone thinks it’s only a matter of time. All I know is that when the threat becomes real in Uganda, we will close the James Place to protect our 74 staff members and 145 kids as well as their families. We have so many people that enter our compound each day.
Ugandans are no strangers to diseases. They have watched ebola spread through their own country long ago and other African countries in recent years. They have witnessed countless people die from malaria and typhoid. I know that Ugandans are strong and will be able to handle this virus, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have a terrible impact on this small country.
I selfishly hope it does not come here because I want to marry my best friend on May 23rd with my family by my side, and this whole pandemic thing is throwing a real wrench into that plan. But I know that this is completely out of my control and all I can do is trust the Lord. Right now, I am safe and sound here in Jinja. The Ugandan Minister of Health has issued a 14-day self-quarantine for travelers coming from countries where the outbreak is bad. But other than that, we are washing our hands a lot and trying to mentally prepare ourselves for the day it reaches here.