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An update on COVID-19 in Uganda

COVID-19 virus drawing

With COVID-19 vaccines still in short supply and treatment options limited, the Ugandan Drug Authority recently approved the use of the drug Covidex for COVID-19 patient care.  According to an article written by Halima Athumani for VOA news, Covidex is an herbal treatment made from traditional herbal plants that have been used in the past to help ease symptoms of other diseases.  Covidex is not considered a cure for the COVID-19 virus, rather it is to be used as a supportive treatment for the management of symptoms.  Dr. David Nahamya, the Executive Director of the Ugandan Health Authority, said that Covidex was approved for use after a 2-week scientific evaluation of its safety and usefulness in helping to manage symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.  Dr. Nahamya said, “To further the efficacy of the drug for other uses, Uganda’s National Drug Authority has advised the manufacturer to conduct random controlled clinical trials, which are the highest level of evidence to ascertain any claims of treatment.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) however, says it has not received any information on Covidex and so they are unable to approve its use for the treatment of COVID-19 symptoms.  Dr. Solome Okware of the WHO’s Uganda office said that while the WHO is currently working with researchers from African countries to find traditional medicines that could be used in the treatment of COVID-19, Covidex has not been among the traditional medicines that have been evaluated.

Dr. Samuel Opio, secretary of the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, meanwhile, believes that while there are concerns about the use of Covidex, its approval is a positive step. According to Dr. Opio, the drugs that have been approved for emergency use in the United States are not available in Uganda.  “So the issue of lack of a treatment, the issue of inaccessibility to even what is approved for emergency use, means that we need to also look for local solutions to the global challenges, and herbal treatment is one area.” Dr. Opio said.  

ROWAN is committed to supporting our widows and orphans in every way we can as they face this crisis and we continue to keep them, and all of the people of Uganda, in our prayers.  

Image from Reuters

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

Tightened lockdown and miracles

A man happily driving a bus in Uganda

On Friday, June 18th, President Yoweri Museveni announced that Uganda would be going into a new 42-day full lockdown.  During this new lockdown, vehicular travel of any kind is prohibited.  Only essential workers or those in need of medical care are exempted from this travel ban.  In addition to all the closures announced in the earlier lockdown, President Museveni set a new 7:00 p.m. curfew for all Ugandans and mandated that all shops must now close. 

These new restrictions coupled with rising COVID-19 infections only add to the increasing hardships the people in Uganda are currently facing.  ROWAN is committed to doing all we can to ensure that our widows and orphans have the food they need during this lockdown.  Our Ugandan team is currently working to procure the needed food supplies and distribute them to our ROWAN communities.  This has been no easy task however as police have been stationed on every corner of the villages to prevent people from leaving their homes.  

Pastor Paul refused to be deterred though.  He said, “I will not give up, tomorrow I will try another person.  Pray with me.  I cannot sit back and watch my people suffer.”  ROWAN posted Pastor Paul’s plea for prayer on our social media accounts and we know that many of you joined us in prayer for our Ugandan family.  How do we know this?  We know because we had a miracle occur.  Yesterday afternoon we received this message from Pastor Paul, ” This is so, so, so good.  Our God is so exciting.  He is so good.  He answers our prayers.  Do you know what? The man I talked to, he has been able to order the district officials who are in charge of the lockdown operations to allow me to buy the food and distribute it to the people.”   What a tremendous blessing!  Thank you for the prayers you sent for softened hearts and help for Pastor Paul.  

Please keep praying for our ROWAN family and for all Ugandans.  If you can, please consider making a donation to our Food to Families campaign.  All proceeds from this campaign go directly toward the purchase of much-need food supplies for our widows and orphans.  We are so grateful for each of you who stands with ROWAN in prayer, support, and love.  

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

Food to Families Campaign

Child in Uganda carrying a basket of maize on their head

It’s been nearly two weeks since Ugandan President, Yoweri Musevini, announced that the country would be going into another lockdown.  The timeline given for this new lockdown was 42 days, but many believe that the current restrictions could last for much longer given the number of COVID-19 cases and the lack of vaccines in Uganda.  

Empty classroom in Uganda

When the new restrictions were announced, ROWAN began working to put together a plan that would allow us to help our widows and orphans during this new lockdown.  After much thought and prayer, the board felt that the best course of action for ROWAN would be to provide our widows and orphans with food distributions during this time.  To this end, we recently set up a new donation campaign called Food to Families.  Every dollar donated through this campaign will go directly to the purchase of food goods that will help ensure that our widows and orphans are fed during this time of quarantine.  In addition to the money raised through the Food to Families campaign, ROWAN’s board made the decision to move our budget around from our sponsorships and put that money toward buying food supplies for all those under our care during this lockdown.  

We are grateful to those who have already donated to our Food to Families campaign as well as those who make donations through sponsorships.  Your generosity is making a tangible difference in our ROWAN communities.  We also want to give a huge shout-out of thanks to Little Man Ice Cream for their very generous donation.  Because of the generosity and love shown by all of you, we were able to send $13,000 to our Ugandan team for the purchase of food supplies.  

Crops growing in Uganda

Food prices in Uganda keep increasing and ROWAN is working hard to ensure we are ready and able to distribute food goods to our widows and orphans throughout this lockdown.  With your help, we can make sure none of them go to bed hungry during this time of quarantine.  

All photos in this post are by Bob Ditty

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

The reviews are in from our Business Training session.

At the conclusion of the Business Training Course we held in April, we had our 15 ROWAN-member participants complete surveys to help us see what sections of the course helped or stood out the most for each of them.  We recently received the results of these surveys and we wanted to share the highlights from those results with all of you.

 

Of the 15 participants, 9 of them felt that the Marketing and Research training provided within the course was the most beneficial for them.  The training on Business Start-up Ideas and Techniques came in a close second, with 5 of the participants stating that they found this to be the most helpful. 

When asked what their favorite part of the entire training course was, one of the participants said that it made them want to show more love.  A few of the participants wrote that their favorite parts of the training course were the activities that helped to reinforce the business training they had just received.  For the majority of the participants, however, it was the inclusion of a scriptural-based curriculum that stood out for them.  One of the scriptural passages that truly  spoke to the majority of participants was James 1:5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (KJV) 

As I read through the survey results, I was struck by the sense of gratitude and hope for the future that the participants expressed in their responses.  There was one response in particular that really stood out to me as I read the completed surveys; it was an answer to the question of ‘ What was your favorite part of the training?’.  This participant wrote that their favorite part was the “idea that everyone has a legacy they leave behind”.  As I read that I realized, once again, how truly alike we all are.  We all have a legacy we leave behind and it is up to us to make sure the legacy we leave is one of goodness and hope.  

All photographs by Bob Ditty

 

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

The second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic has hit Uganda.

Ugandan Landscape

Uganda is currently being hit hard by the second wave of COVID-19 infections.  In speaking with a BBC news correspondent,  Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services at the Health Ministry, said that it took less than 10 days for the second wave of infections to reach levels seen in a full-scale pandemic.  The steep rise in cases is believed to be due in part to the arrival in Uganda of the new variants of the virus that have been seen in India and South Africa.  These new variants are more infectious and have been shown to have a higher hospitalization rate.  In her article for VOA News, Halima Athumani shared statistics that highlight the exponential growth of COVID-19 infections in Uganda; Ms. Athumani reported that for the week of April 25, there were 256 new COVID-19 cases reported but by the week of May 16th, new COVID-19 cases in Uganda had risen to 1060.  In addition to the arrival of the new, more infectious, variants of the virus, Uganda is facing a vaccine shortage emergency.  According to news reports in Uganda, the existing supply of COVID-19 vaccines has run out, and it is unknown when future shipments of the vaccine may arrive.  The president of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, is expected to address the country on Sunday with an update on the COVID-19 crisis and the actions the government is going to take to try to slow the spread of the virus.

Bike leaning against in fence in Uganda

The second wave has seen the COVID-19 virus reach the communities ROWAN serves.  Even though our communities have not had any COVID-19 cases over the past year, ROWAN has been working hard to help people in our communities be as knowledgeable and as prepared as possible for the arrival of the COVID-19 virus.  While our ROWAN team in Uganda is doing all they physically can to help our community members weather this storm, we also know there is tremendous power in prayer.  There is a quote by Angus Buchan that says, “There is power in prayer.  When men work, they work.  But when men pray, God works.”  We have seen firsthand the power of prayer in action and we are standing with our community members, our Ugandan team, and the Ugandan people in prayer.   Please, join us in praying for our ROWAN communities and for the people of Uganda as they face this new threat. 

 

All photos in this post are by Bob Ditty

 

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

Goats and Water

Our ROWAN farm is continuing to grow.  Our farmland is now up to 15 acres and our little goat herd is not so little anymore – we now have 150 goats!  One of our goals with the farm has been to create a strong and profitable business that will help provide working income for the ROWAN ministry.  With each harvest and goat, we grow closer to reaching that goal. 

 Man feeding a goat in Uganda                                                                                     

To help ensure our growing farm is running smoothly, we recently hired a new farm manager.  His name is Onyango Valiriano. 

Man standing by a building in Uganda                                                                        

We are excited to have him as a member of our ROWAN team and we believe he is going to do an excellent job!

Man feeding a goat in Uganda

With the growth of our farm and goat herd, we have seen our water needs increase.  The closest well is over 1.5 miles away and our farm manager is having to make 3 trips a day to the well to meet the farm’s water needs.  It has become apparent that we are in desperate need of our own well on the farm.  So we are reaching out to each of you and asking for your help.  The cost to build a well on our farm is $5000 (USD).  If you are able to make a donation, of any size, please click here to be taken to our Goat Well Campaign page.  With your help, we can build a well that will have an impact for good for many years to come.   

A man holding a goat in Uganda

 

All photos in this post were taken by Bob Ditty

Post Author: Kirsten Formea

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