The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the lives of Ugandans staying in the diaspora especially students who survive on paychecks.
Joseph Mubiru, law and human rights student in Canada, Ottawa has revealed that he is worried about the situation where he is because he is not certain when the situation will normalise so that people can resume with their normal way of life.
Mubiru says that as a student who has to pay rent and get basic needs, he has been affected greatly because he has to take risks and continue working in order to get an income. Unfortunately, he says, the numbers of his clients have reduced which greatly affects him.
“As a salesperson, I have experienced a challenge of working especially for me who lives from paycheck to paycheck. I still have to pay my bills. This has forced me to continue working hence putting my life at high risk of getting the virus. Sadly, even the work is not enough,” he said.
Mubiru is, however, grateful that everyone regardless of their race is being treated well. As much as other countries are mistreating Africans, he says that the Canadian government is doing everything it can to see that everyone’s human rights are respected. The Canadian government he says, is also giving out money to all the people who are not working but are living in the country.
“We are being treated normally. Nothing really changed apart from social distancing. The Canadian government has offered each individual not working $2,000 (about Shs5.4m) which is a one-off payment,” he revealed.
However, Mubiru emphasises that with the growing number of cases, it is hard to access medical services to treat other diseases because most of the hospitals are filled up with COVID-19 patients. Ottawa has 12879 and 977 were registered today.
He also adds that it is hard to balance online classes, work and other home activities because he has to work extra. “Due to this, you find that very many of us are missing out on the lectures conducted online,” he says.
The law student also says the experience is frustrating because it is hard to access the basic needs. Most of the stores are closed and the open ones have long queues. He adds that it is difficult to buy foodstuffs and in many cases, when one finally gets in, they find most foodstuffs have been sold out.
“It’s a scramble to buy food,” he said.
Mubiru worries not only about himself his relatives in back home. Thinking about them tortures him psychologically, even more than the fear of COVID-19.
“I wake up every day to check on my family. Sometimes I talk to them and other times I fail to reach them because of differences in the time zones. The times I don’t get to them, I become worried the whole day,” he said.
He however applauds the government of Uganda for trying to contain the virus so that it does not affect very many people in the country.
“My worry is it reaching the villages back home because it will kill each and every old person as we don’t have the facilities to contain it. So I applaud what the government has done to limit its spread so far,” he said.