These past 15 months, no matter how “hard” or “easy” any of us had it, we’ve learned a lot. Good stuff even. Our learning, you could say, has been one of the pandemic’s silver linings. To acknowledge some of those Silver Learnings, we’ve invited friends from different walks of life to share what they’ve learned from the pandemic. Our guess is you’ll hear some voices that sound like your own, and some that offer a window into a world you’ve not known but from which we can all now learn.
Keron Siriri lives in the Budaka District in Eastern Uganda where he is a member of the Abayudaya Jewish community (his village sits about 14 miles to the west of the commercial center of Mbale). Keron is 24 years old and a recent college graduate in electrical engineering. He is the second-born of six children.
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During the pandemic, life has become very hard. Some days, I go without food. My brothers and sisters live in constant fear of either contracting Covid-19 or getting arrested for violating health guidelines. We are left to fate. I cry endlessly remembering how much my parents used to take care of us when we stayed together at home. Now I sit on my balcony and think of how I can survive this terrible situation. I wonder why I am so far from home in a place that feels like exile, even as fears of new Covid-19 cases are increasing.
I live by myself, far from my family. I had just completed my engineering course of study when the pandemic began, hoping to start work and earn an income as a reward for my educational efforts. But that did not happen due to the deadly crisis. Nevertheless I persisted, resorting to innovative science, pouring myself into creating electrical products as a means to provide myself with activity and some income. I was also able to sell electronic appliances, power sockets and such.
But all too soon, these avenues were closed to me because of the lockdown in Uganda to stop the spread of Covid-19. As in so many other countries, Uganda had banned public gatherings and public transportation, closed schools and restricted movement between areas to keep the outbreak under control.
But the stress of the situation has been overwhelming, especially the difficulty of supporting myself. As the pandemic continues on, I feel isolated having to stay in one place, and increasingly fearful as I hear and see this mysterious illness cause so many to lose loved ones — parents, wives and husbands, children. I no longer participate in social gatherings like sports galas, community dialogues and religious activities, which I did a lot when I was able. Now I am confined to my room from morning to evening, and sometimes late into the night due to my fear of violating lockdown and curfews.