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The Collins English Dictionary selected in 2020 “lockdown” as the word of the year . It was chosen because it was a unifying experience for people all over the globe, who together have played a part in fighting the spread of COVID-19.

Uganda also played its role last year with a lock-down which did help to keep the spread of the virus at a manageable level. However, the restrictions were so tough that a World Bank study showed development gains of 10 years have been erased and 3 million people have fallen into deep poverty, joining the already 8.7 million already living below poverty level in Uganda.

The bad news is that while most of the high income countries are back in a more or less normal world Uganda is back into lock-down. First a partial lock-down starting 10th June, and now since 19th June a full very strict lock-down with very limited movements and long curfew hours. Actually, it is only essential services like military, police, electricity and health workers who can get permission to move.

Being a home-based palliative care provider, Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja are very busy making sure that our patients have the medicines they need – and also food! And for all the patients who are getting treatment from the Uganda Cancer Institute or elsewhere – they need help to transport.

You cannot begin to imagine the depth of the poverty some of our patients are already living in, never mind the substantial economic strains these lockdowns place on them. One example is a patient we recently visited, who has terminal cancer of the stomach – he has eight children, cannot work and his wife is desperately trying everything she can to make ends meet and ensure that her children have at least one meal a day. There is one mattress in their dilapidated hut house, used by the sick father and the rest of the family sleep either on the floor, or on hard straw mats – no blankets in sight.

Another example was, in fact the very next house we visited, of a three-year-old little girl who has brain cancer. She desperately needs to get to the pedeatric oncology unit at the Cancer Institute in Kampala but does not have any means for transport.

This week alone, we have had thirteen patients who need transportation for treatment (both to and from) Kampala and with only three people allowed in a vehicle INCLUDING the driver this becomes incredibly expensive! These patients cannot wait over 42 days for the lockdown to possibly end to get the immediate and crucial treatment they need.

These sick patients need help – be it food and basic materials or transport for treatment. … and we in Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja are doing all we can to help them in spite of all the present obstacles. It is costly with this extra need for food and fuel – but we are talking about human beings and about human rights – and we are therefore asking for your help. Contributions big or small will help a lot – and someone is going to breathe a little more easily because of you.

On our website you can see how to donate both inside and outside Uganda.

Alternatively, mobile money donations are very welcome and can be sent to our accountant, Janet Bukaayi: ‪0783 213 361‬

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