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A Double Whammy: COVID-19 and Record Floods

As of today, May 14th, 2020 at 8 pm EST, 160 Ugandans have tested positive for the coronavirus, of which none has died and 63 have recovered. 

Although the virus infects a mere fraction of Uganda’s 43M citizens, the pandemic’s impact on the economy and government resonates nationally. Measures to slow the spread often clash against the normalcy of daily life and the vitality of essential trade. As information about the virus emerges daily, Ugandan policymakers must propose national recommendations that adaptively balance the physical and economic well-being of their people. 

Second-hand clothing markets annually reap $200M for the Ugandan economy.

Illustrating this volatility, bans that were placed on the second-hand clothing market were reversed on May 8th – just 24 hours after their institution. Although they may remain open, clothing sellers must abide by heightened hygiene mandates such as fumigation before they can make any sales. While the government did not release any comments concerning this policy reversal, its desire to maintain the $200M industry and to prevent backlash from the U.S. – the main source of imported clothing – may have motivated the decision.

Ugandan truck drivers have been mandated to carry digital tracking devices.

On May 12th, Ugandan officials ordered all truck drivers to carry digital tracking devices. This strategy came in response to a disproportionate rate of infection that was reported among these workers last month. Although preventing the spread of the disease remains paramount, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni emphasizes, “We need the cargo. We need the goods.” … And they certainly do. Stifling the dispersion of COVID-19 has necessitated significant economic sacrifices. Already, the International Monetary Fund, a multinational organization working towards global financial security, has loaned $491M in relief to Uganda’s COVID-19-related economic downturn. 

President Museveni’s final campaign rally from 2015.

Beyond the economic strain, the country expects a postponement of polling for its 2020 general elections. Should the pandemic remain out of control through July, President Museveni predicts a delay of the elections until early 2021. 

The Nalubaale Hydroelectric Power Station, where the blackout-causing blockage occurred.

It gets worse. As if COVID-19 did not pose great enough hardships, the Ugandan people now face extreme flooding – the likes of which they have not seen since 1976. This month alone, the floods have killed 4 people, trapped 200 patients inside of a hospital, and displaced 5,000 others for the sake of emergency relocation. Recently, the record 44-ft rise in Lake Victoria dislodged an island of vegetation – measuring 2 acres –from a riverbank. Ultimately, this floating island clogged one of Uganda’s four main hydroelectric power stations, which precipitated a brief, yet nationwide power outage. 

 

Post Author: Chanel Varney

Honoring Tikabula’s Memory

We just received heartbreaking news that Tikabula Kafuko passed away yesterday at 86-and-a-half years old.     

She will be remembered as a world-changer who had twice as much spunk and life in her than most people have at 25. Tikabula dearly loved to dance, was known to speak boldly, and (as Pastor Paul says) you could always count on her to “make funs” (make jokes). She played an integral part of our pineapple and passion fruit gardens at ROWAN. She enjoyed tending to her small garden at her home, and the community will always remember how hard she worked. Here are some pictures of her gardening:

For the last few years of her long and beautiful life, her body struggled with arthritis and joint pain. Ultimately, she passed away of cancer in her intestines. We would like to thank Tikabula’s sponsors, Norma and Philip Tubbs, for helping make her final years her very best. She called ROWAN “family” and never missed an event. Life expectancy in Uganda is currently about 60 years old, and we are so thankful for so many years beyond that where we were able to learn from and laugh with Tikabula. We are missing her deeply but thankful to know she is resting in the Father’s arms.

If you ever had the privilege of meeting Tikabula, we would love to hear and share your stories and memories to honor her legacy.

Post Author: Micayla

What’s In a Name?

As someone who loves to read and write, I love words. A perfectly-turned phrase can make my heart go zing. String those phrases and sentences together and we can read or listen to something that makes us laugh, cry, fume, gasp, and absorb.

In 2019, there are A LOT of words out there. Because they are available to us 24/7/365, they can overwhelm and cause us to turn away. Or cause us to only turn to memes about dog, cats, and Marvel movies.  

We can get desensitized to what we read and hear and it’s understandable. This can cause us to take in diluted meaning and truth, or put a hand up to say, “Stop”. Sometimes a break is good. And sometimes forcing ourselves to slow down and ponder the truth of what we are reading is also good. We’ve known for a long time now what AIDS is, but have you read the definition lately?  I looked at the meaning of each word in the name ROWAN and it stopped me short.  Please read what each of the words in the ROWAN title means.  From Webster’s Dictionary:

RURAL: of or relating to the country, country people or life, or agriculture

ORPHANS: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents

WIDOWS: a woman who has lost her spouse or partner by death and usually has not remarried, or whose spouse or partner leaves her alone

AIDS: a disease of the human immune system that is characterized cytologically especially by reduction in the numbers of CD4-bearing helper T cells to 20 percent or less of normal thereby rendering the subject highly vulnerable to life-threatening conditions (such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia) and to some (such as Kaposi’s sarcoma) that become life-threatening and that is caused by infection with HIV commonly transmitted in infected blood especially during illicit intravenous drug use and in bodily secretions during sexual intercourse

NETWORK: a usually informally interconnected group or association of persons; a fabric or structure of cords or wires that cross at regular intervals and are knotted or secured at the crossings 

Whether you are part of the ROWAN family or just learning about Eastern Uganda, to pause and understand what ROWAN is, what each word in the name means, is a good thing. It helps us remember in the 21st century glut of words that we can look clearly at the people in the village, at their pain and their hope, at their knotted and secure relationships with God and each other, and know the truth. The words of ROWAN allow us to learn and help and not turn away.  

Would you like to join us?

Post Author: Shelly Casale

Food Poisoning in Uganda

Post Author: Brad Young

Flashback – ROWAN Health Center 2009

Post Author: Kelsey

Hepatitis Outbreak – Please Help!

DONATE HERE

The Mayo Clinic describes Hepatitis B as “a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic, meaning it lasts more than six months. Having chronic hepatitis B increases your risk of developing liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis — a condition that permanently scars the liver.” (more…)

Post Author: Micayla

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