The global pandemic has affected students all over the world, and the open-and-closed, on-again, off-again, restrictions that have challenged parents, schools, businesses, and families in Canada have been even more of a challenge in Uganda. Prior to the pandemic, many of our sponsored students relied on the rhythm of regular life in boarding schools for each of three terms during the year, interspersed by visits to extended family or caregivers known as “home”.
The initial shutdown in 2020 was followed by a re-opening in March, 2021, and we were very encouraged to know that all 87 students under current sponsorship returned to class. This was remarkable, in that 18 percent of all students in the country did not return. to school. The students who completed the Primary 7, Secondary 4 and Secondary 6 wrote the governmental exams.
Sadly, though, as a result of a rapid increase in the spread of COVID-19 and the near collapse of the hospitals system, the government of Uganda imposed on May 21, 2021 a major lockdown.
This lockdown included not only the closure of all schools, but also the shut down of all public and private transportation, except for emergency vehicles. This meant that our volunteers who would normally travel to visit and support our sponsored students were unable to do so.
A report received during the summer indicated that two of our volunteers had contracted the COVID-19 virus, but subsequently recovered. We do not have a complete or accurate picture yet of the current health of our students.
Latest news received October 19, 2021 indicates that the restrictions continue at this point, as the vaccination rate in the country is less than ten percent. The government of Uganda has announced that Primary students may expect to return to classes in January, 2022, and Secondary students in April, 2022.
We encourage prayers for the health and well-being of our sponsored students, and indeed for the whole nation of Uganda, especially for orphaned children who are in a very vulnerable situation at this time.
Contributions of aid for the students in anticipation of the easing of restrictions which will allow for our volunteers to resume travel to visit them, and for the students’ return to studies in 2022 will be most welcome.
Our board of directors in Canada continues to be in periodic communication with key volunteers in Uganda and will provide further updates as they are available.
James T. Hurd,