I was in India in 2020 when the Indian government announced a country wide lockdown. It was a trying time as I was completing my nursing degree while parenting my nine-month old, and had not yet received my monthly allowance from my dad in Uganda. As such, I cut down drastically on expenses that included eating once a day.
With my daughter strapped to my chest, I rode my scooter to her house, got the money to clear my bills and buy groceries
Since children below the ages of five were not allowed outside the house, I couldn’t take my baby shopping, so I would leave her alone at home as she slept and rushed to the shopping mall in my scooter to buy household items before she awakened. On one of such trips, I accidentally knocked down a young boy, but luckily he wasn’t hurt.
My situation worsened when lockdown was extended for another 30 days. By then I had no money to buy diapers or make rent. I begged my landlord for an extra day before turning to my friend Noryang, an Indian classmate, for a loan. Having stuck out for me since day one, she came through but asked that I come over to her house to get the money. With my daughter strapped to my chest, I rode my scooter to her house, got the money to clear my bills and buy groceries until a few months later, when I finally received funds from my dad.
We have to learn to recognise one another as friends rather than foes, during this challenging period in the world.
Shortly after we returned home, I developed a cold and fever, and two days later, so did my daughter. Because I had no money, I couldn’t take her to hospital and decided to reach out to a classmate, a student nurse in a children’s hospital to check her vital signs. The next morning, he came over with a thermometer and medication, and continued to visit until my child recovered.
It's true that the ego thrives on the strength of individualism, but whether or not we admit it, no human is an island.
In August of 2020, I sat exams online, reading throughout the night as my baby slept and breastfeeding while I took the exams so she wouldn't disturb me. It was enervating, but I couldn’t afford to fail and stay another year in a foreign country. However, when the stress of parenting and exams became overwhelming, a friend from a nearby city, who is a father and no stranger to the pressures of parenting, offered to look after my daughter while I prepared for my finals. Later on, following the completion of my exams, he opened his home to us as airports remained closed and I could no longer meet my own financial needs.
Living in a foreign country during the inception of covid-19 and all its attendant uncertainties revealed the beauty of true friendships. In my helplessness, I learnt to ask for help and receive it graciously. It's true that the ego thrives on the strength of individualism, but whether or not we admit it, no human is an island. We need one another to pull through life, especially during the pandemic where the selfish actions of some have continued to inflict avoidable tragedies on others. We have to learn to recognise one another as friends rather than foes, during this challenging period in the world.