I began 2020 with several plans lined up: I was going to get a salary increment, marry the love of my life and start a family, buy a piece of land and have a thriving hair and skincare business all before January 2021. But life had other ideas.
My husband, a footballer, had big plans as well but, like me, had not been paid for two months. By February, we were both in a financial crisis as I’d quit my job in the hope of securing another as a public health officer. Unfortunately, Covid made its entry into Uganda, forcing the government to close all schools until further notice. This meant I had no job to finance my goals for 2020. My nightmare was just starting.
By the end of April, I was pregnant, a blessing from God, yes, but it came at the wrong time.
Before the pandemic, I worked as a project coordinator promoting sexual and reproductive rights in the village of Bukasa. I visited homesteads to assess their health and often gave de-worming tablets for free and offered health discounts to the elderly and children that could not afford medical attention, sometimes connecting them to medical specialists.
So when covid reared its ugly face, and robbed me and my husband of our jobs, the townspeople returned the favour. Neighbours and distant friends often brought produce from their garden: maize, sweet potatoes, cassava, matooke, vegetables.
There was a neighbour, Nalongo, who took it upon herself to see that my husband and I didn't lack food. Everyday, she sent her children to bring us pancakes and bananas for breakfast, and in the evenings, she shared her supper with us or sent us uncooked food from her stall for us to prepare.
Support also came in through the Adventist Church, where I worshiped. They supplied posho and beans, congregants ensuring we had food. Occasionally, they paid courtesy visits to members to check in on us.
After over five months in Bukasa without a job, my husband and I made the difficult decision to relocate to the town of Bweyogerere, where rent was cheaper. There, we took a plethora of jobs, including baby-sitting, online surveys, property brokering, typing and short football tournaments, to pay the bills. Our families also provided financial and emotional support.
This year has not gone according to plan. I did not get the salary increment, I haven’t officially married the love of my life (yet), have not bought that piece of land nor started my business as expected, but I’m alive and healthy. In my well of needs, I found love, support and encouragement from neighbours, family members and the church that has buoyed me and my husband through what could be considered crippling challenges. My husband and I are still unemployed, and we just welcomed our first child, we remain optimistic that all will be well in the end. After all, there's a silver lining in every cloud.