An update – July 2020
As the first coronavirus death in Uganda was reported in Mbale last week, we wanted to update all our supporters on PONT’s response to the pandemic so far.
Uganda has so far reported 1,140 cases of COVID-19 and 1,028 recoveries. On Tuesday 21st July a 34-year-old Ugandan woman was sadly the first in the country to lose her life to the virus. She died while being treated on an isolation ward at Joy Hospice health facility, which is a short walk away from the Mbale CAP office.
The lady was a resident of Namisindwa district – one of the 4 districts in Mbale region where PONT’s health, education and livelihoods projects operate. You can read more here or via other news outlets. There has also since been another death in the capital city Kampala.
Namisindwa is home to ARDI, one of the 8 local NGOs we partner with through Mbale CAP to deliver healthworker training. With support from PONT, they organised training for volunteer healthworkers early in the lockdown on recognising the symptoms of coronavirus and preventing it spreading. They have been sharing this information with households in rural areas where many people do not have phones with internet access, and the other NGOs are doing the same.
Because the healthworkers are in the villages and know their neighbours, but are trained to understand health information, our network is ideally placed to respond to the coronavirus crisis. (You can read more here about our volunteer community healthworkers).
When lockdown started in Uganda, all public transport was banned, including “boda bodas”, the motorbike taxis that many people rely on. With no other way to get to hospitals and health centres, our 33 motorbike ambulances are in more demand than ever, transporting mothers in labour, children who are ill and people who have been injured.
The 4 districts recently reported to us on the number of journeys made in April – June 2020: journeys have more than doubled to 2,719 trips, up from 1,227 in April – June 2019.
Lockdown took away so many people’s ability to earn money – and therefore to buy basic household supplies and the foods that they cannot harvest themselves.
In June we sent a small donation from Livelihoods funds (raised by our monthly donors and the events we held before lockdown), to provide some emergency relief to families who are part of our network of savings groups and goat breeding schemes. We were able to give flour, sugar and soap to 200 families. This was so gratefully received.
But as the need was so much bigger, we then applied for a grant to expand this work, and have recently been told we were successful! We’ll now be able to help 1,200 families – we’ll tell you more in the next couple of weeks!
Schools in Uganda have been closed since March, but our Education co-ordinator has been working tirelessly to distribute revision materials to schools for children who are due to take their Primary Leaving Exam this year.
Many churches in Uganda have been doing what they can to help the most vulnerable in their community, and two of our link churches in Pontypridd have been able to help their partners do this. St Catherine’s Church took an online collection to help Namatala Church distribute food to people who were going hungry in one of the poorest parts of Mbale town. Temple Baptist Church sent extra donations to help First Baptist Mbale give soap and food to HIV+ women helped by Hope Ministries who particularly need to eat regularly in order to take their ARV drugs safely.
While there has been an increase in early pregnancies and domestic abuse through lockdown, the Bethel Girls of Hope project is still reaching out to 60 girls in their community.
Can you help us?
We know some of our supporters in Wales are themselves facing a drop in income. But if you can still afford to give a little something, could you set up a small monthly gift for the next 6 months? If 50 new friends of PONT gave just £3 a month, each month that would raise the same as we might raise at one fundraising event!