Greetings in the name of our Lord! We pray that by reading this update, you are well and keeping safe! We are all going through worrying and unprecedented times.
Following Ugandan Government instruction, TEAMS suspended its operations and closed its site on 27th March. 3 staff volunteered to live on site to protect it and to run the borehole for the community. All others returned to their villages to isolate with their families. Shops and markets were closed (save for food outlets), a ban on all public meetings involving more than 3 persons, no bodaboda transport and restrictions and a curfew on personal travel have been vigorously imposed by the police. This has made “normal life” impossible, but undoubtedly has greatly assisted Uganda’s excellent record of so far in not having any deaths due to Covid19. Just imagine; a landlocked 3rd world country with such a great track record!
The small TEAMS board here in the UK has been working hard and has set up weekly calls with those who are now living 24/7 in isolation on our site in Gulu. Admin, normally dealt with by our staff in Uganda has landed on our plate too as “working from home” cannot take place there. The majority of our staff do not have power in their villages, let alone have access to a computer! Spirits have been kept high by these calls and our decision to continue to pay a significant percentage of salaries to all staff has been greatly appreciated. Those who are remaining on site are paid the highest percentage (currently 75%.) There is no Government support for salaries in Uganda and most people in employment have suddenly seen their income fall to zero. Whilst we would have loved to pay everyone in full, we must preserve our meagre reserves to ensure we have funds to restart programmes when the lock down finishes. Our on-site “remainers” have helped us to deal with an attempted break-in, routine maintenance, our horticultural programme and our borehole.
To help our borehole users stay safe, we have closed the borehole compound and run a long hosepipe from our tap to the roadside verge. The borehole operative turns the tap on and off as needed from the safety of the compound whilst those filling their Jerry-cans are made to queue socially 3 metres apart along the side of the road. As a gesture of goodwill we have suspended the usual water charges for our regular users during the pandemic and will do so for as long as possible once the crisis has passed so as to help people recover financially as quickly as possible. This small gesture has been much appreciated by the community. The attached photograph shows the new regime with “social distancing” being strictly observed. The President has announced that the lockdown measures will gradually be eased during the coming weeks and there are signs we may be able to reopen our site at some point in July. This is encouraging news, but the pandemic has left a big hole in TEAMS finances. Like many charities, our income (95% from UK sources) has plummeted during the pandemic yet most of our expenditure has continued. You can help us continue our work by making a donation today. Please visit our donation page. We need to recover salary costs paid during the time of closure and plan to maintain free water access for some months to come as the local community will take a long time to recover their already fragile financial positions.
I know that we are all facing tough times as we recover from the past couple of months, but please take a moment to count your blessings for having survived this global disaster and help TEAMS by making a donation now. May our heavenly Father continue to keep you safe and well. Duncan Watt Chairman of Trustees.