By Yasiri J. Kasango
The office of the chaplain at Uganda Christian University (UCU) recently donated food to students that the latest government-order covid lockdown has stranded in hostels around the institution.
Each student received a food pack containing beans, sugar, maize flour, salt and soap. A pack was valued at sh23,000 (about $6.5).
“When we got a report about students who are stranded in hostels and in need of food, the chapel council raised some money to help them out,” the chaplain, the Rev. Eng. Paul Wasswa, said.
Uganda on June 7 closed all schools and institutions of higher learning following increase in the positivity rate among the Covid-19 tests that were being done. Uganda is currently in the second wave of Covid-19.
Two weeks later, the country’s President, Yoweri Museveni, announced a 42-day lockdown, banning the movement of vehicles. Only vehicles belonging to categories of people government considered essential workers, such as the media, medical personnel, workers at construction sites and in factories, and trucks delivering goods, among others, were issued with travel permits.
The development meant that the students who were caught up in hostels had to stay there until the lockdown terminates at the end of July. However, in mid-July, it was not yet clear whether government will lift the lockdown after the 42 days. Government has said the positivity rate in the Covid-19 tests dropped from 18% when the lockdown was instituted to 10% a month later.
For the donation that was handed to the students, the chapel council raised sh1m (about $280) towards purchasing the food items. A total of 54 students benefitted from the generosity. The beneficiaries were identified by the UCU deputy guild minister for religious affairs, the Rev. Benson Amanya.
A recent UCU guild government survey indicated that there are at least 200 national and international students stranded in hostels.
Amanya said the needy students were identified through the coordination of class representatives.
“When a class representative recommends a needy student, we interrogate them about the student. Their response would help to identify whether the student was actually in need of food,” Amanya said.
“I am grateful for the support rendered to us,” Edith Joseph from South Sudan said. “We are going through a hard time in the hostels.”
David Kisakye, a final-year student pursuing the Bachelor of Laws at UCU, commended the chaplain’s office for the initiative. “Receiving some food, although little, is better than nothing,” he said.
The Rev. Wasswa acknowledged that the food relief given to students could not sustain them until the end of the lockdown and, therefore, called upon other well-wishers to donate more food to the students. He also asked students who may be in need of counselling to approach his office.