Uganda: The Life in the #COVID19 Epicenter

I want to give you a glimpse into what life is like right now in Kampala and across the country, given the Coronavirus situation 

I have been blown away by the number of messages from human rights activists, citizens, Ministry of Health, World Health Organisations giving hope, and praying for everyone during this frightening time

Kampala city right now is unrecognizable because of coronavirus and the President’s directive. The majority of people especially hustlers, young people live in the center of the ghetto hustle towns. The restaurants, shops, bars, schools, museums are all boarded up and dark. The public transport is temporarily suspended. Sidewalks deserted

The only people out are the Military, police, Local Defense Unit with guns at their shoulders, and delivery bodaboda men all wearing masks and other people if not covered by a mask. Like most of the people are walking a half expecting to step on an explosive at any given minute

People are panicking and on the edge, and for good reason. The cases here are exploding. Over 18 cases, and zero deaths in Uganda but still, the number is daunting

Some hospitals in rural areas and not leaving out Urban are critically low on protective gear and some people fled to the villages because of the economical and day by day, the conditions get even worse out there

There are currently 18 people in the country that Ministry of Health confirmed with COVID19, all doing well, Thank God.

I have been texting my friends to see if they are all okay and apart from not being able to go into town for meetings, conferences, events, most of the digital influencers their (our) work has really been interrupted and now fully unemployed, and idle.

The Digital Marketing industry is at a standstill with events cancelling, and projects put on hold until this outbreak passes, the economy is worsening and young people will again resort to stealing, God forbid!

But the biggest thing right now is that there’s a lot of fear circulating. I went to the nearest town Kansanga and everyone was suspicious of each other. It was such an unsettling feeling.

People staying four meters away from one another, and eyeing you with that don’t you dare come closer. Bodabodas can’t take any human being because of the directive from the President and when police find anyone on the road walking, he/she is beaten to near death.

And the most frightening thing is not seeing people using sanitizer, not washing their hands and not using face masks, and gloves. Seeing people wearing masks makes others catch a breath

To be honest, looking at the Military, Police beating citizens is absolutely terrifying and it violates human rights.  We all want to live and survive, in short, no one wants to die before fulfilling his/her dreams. The forces that are being used on the people is uncalled for and come to think of that the police misinterpreted the communication from the president

In this period, It has taught me to never take things like life for granted ever again, and to be so incredibly grateful for it.

Y’all should start cyber hugging people a little tighter, make goodbyes a little more meaningful, put in the little extra effort to text a loved friend, appreciate the sunshine and be a cheerful person, give hope to people, and don’t be the cause of fear

Again, whenever you move out and come back home, wash your hands with soap, pull out that nice book and deal with fear, we shall overcome this!

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Frank Byaruhanga is a human rights activist with years of experience in community dialogues, digital communication, advocacy and digital campaigns. He specializes in Media Relation Work, Management and Training with sufficient knowledge in Governance, Accountability, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, Youth-led research, Content developer, Creative Activism, Social Media Management and documentary photography.

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