We hope to see James and children this afternoon.

I have had two different Ugandans explain to me their reactions to the various bans laid down by their president regarding the Corona Virus. I believe this represents an accurate portrayal of the hardships these times will bring to the average Ugandan. I share them only because westerners would probably never think this way or have these concerns, so their statements give much insight into the different cultural realities of living in a third world area.

They both explained that it’s fine to ban church meetings and conferences and to close schools, but the markets will be the largest area of exposure and the most difficult to restrict. The typical Ugandan does not have any refrigeration to keep or store food for multiple days. It is the norm and will have to continue to be the norm for the people to go to the markets to purchase food for the family at least every two days. Not only are the funds limited so that large purchases of food are not realistic, but there is no way to keep the food in its raw state for long periods of storage.

If the bans affect the crossing of the borders, which it seems it certainly will, then the income many receive from selling their produce across the borders will disappear – Uganda is considered the “bread basket” of Africa, and much of what they raise in their gardens and fields are “cash” crops not for local consumption, but for export. Along with that, the day to day existence which depends on that income will be negatively impacted. The bans, though necessary, are putting the fear of famine and starvation into the minds of most of the average people.

Typical Ugandan Market

They explained that there is no way to shut down the markets because that is where everyone buys their daily food. Without the markets, the people will not eat.

It is difficult for westerners to relate to that. Here in Africa, starvation is always just several meals away, only a trip or two to the market away. So many factors affect the income to buy the food on the one hand, and the ability to travel to the markets where the local food is purchased on the other.

So there is much fear now in Uganda, not so much because of the virus, which has yet even to breach the border with one case. Instead, because of the difficult restrictions, either the ability to eat day to day will be limited or, on the other hand, the ability to restrict exposure to the virus from large gatherings in the markets will be difficult. Catch 22. When we are here as westerners, we have to face all new realities that are just daily life for the people we come to minister to. This troubling season seems to present a no-win situation.

Please pray for the African people.