COVID-19 cases in Uganda have continued to rise steadily, and the country’s Ministry of Health is diligently updating the public. In addition to good public health messaging, they are also emphasizing contact tracing and testing to contain the virus. Several isolation centers have been created and visitors are quarantined. Uganda’s districts most at risk may be those adjacent to other countries because of porous borders. Inner districts are beginning to gradually ease some lockdown measures, but many are still in place.
Schools remain closed and there is no indication yet when they will open this year. An estimated 15 million children are currently staying home – including the 56 children on our Road to Hope (RTH) program. This comes with its own risks as children lose focus on school and can become inactive or distracted with home activities. For vulnerable children there are more serious concerns of domestic violence, sexual abuse, and early pregnancy. Hunger is a major issue. Many of the RTH children come from very impoverished households and their biggest struggle during the COVID-19 lockdown is access to food. As is sometimes the case in the US, families rely on children receiving nutritious meals from school. PCAU is continuing to work with the families and other partners to find ways to help them access at least one meal a day while at home.
The Ministry of Education and Sports is trying to keep children engaged with their studies through radio and television tutoring sessions. They are also publishing home-schooling packages targeted at each class level in the national newspapers. Many of you are familiar with the situation in Uganda, and you can imagine these may not be the most effective strategies. PCAU is also creating ways to engage the children further. They are planning an essay competition for the older children – using the opportunity to raise awareness and advocate for palliative care. A local media personality has agreed to judge and publicize the winning essay. PCAU is also getting the children books to read and assessing the possibility of engaging tutors in the communities where the children live. We are working with PCAU to ensure they have some flexible funds to respond to these changing needs during the pandemic. Please read more at the end of this newsletter to learn how you can help PCAU support these children.