Isaac Newton Ojok : A NAWOU trained Male Champion based in Gulu District, Bobi Sub county.
The current situation in the country- the Lockdown as a Government directive to combat the spread of the COVID 19 pandemic has had a toll on people especially those that live together under one roof- the Family. It’s now the season for husbands, wives and children to live together whole day, with limited movement from home due to the advice to stay home, no transport means to go away from home, and nowhere to go since gatherings have been suspended. This has accelerated abusive behavior among families; with those in position of power violating those should love and care for. For example, in Gulu in March, a man assaulted his wife, resulting into her death. He was arrested by Police and justice for the wife will be served, however, beyond this, one cannot help but wonder how the children of this couple will forever be affected by this act of violence.
As an affiliate staff to the Gulu District Health Office as well as a NAWOU trained community based resource person, I participated in a radio Talk show on Radio Rupiny-Gulu on Thursday 23rd April 2020 from 7 to 8 p.m. During the talk show, I emphasized the need for community members to adhere to the government safety directives, especially now that there is an on-going incident of truck drivers across East African borders being potential carriers of the virus.
In reference to the rising cases of conflicts among family members during such times, I highlighted that family members should live peacefully despite the lockdown, and should participate collectively in home based activities / roles (productive and reproductive). They should also be humble to each other through communication and decision making plus vulnerable members of families that include the sick, expectant mothers and children to access health services by reaching out to the District Health Office. Harmonious living will not only strengthen relations among family members but also influence responsible utilization of resources such as food stuff that have become scarce.
At the talk show, I also encouraged people to continue farming. I am pleased to note that people who are engaged in cotton growing are beginning to open land in preparation for the sowing while those engaged in soya beans growing are now planting. Although these continue to happen, the level of engagement in agriculture has declined due to the reduced availability of affordable transportation services. Some of the farm land is very far from where people live; ordinarily, they hire motorcycles to take them to the farm. Farming activities have been narrowed to those whose homes are near their farm land. In addition, few stores that sell agricultural inputs are open, which also avails fewer quantities of seed to the farmers.
I have realized that in such difficult times, rural areas are in great need of community resource persons in every village, to mediate and counsel families facing conflicts. In the current context, conflict resolution is left to the community resource persons, considering that most referral and justice institutions are not easily accessible. Unfortunately, even the community resource persons cannot visit all families and that gap has definitely facilitated the perpetual occurrence of family conflicts and gender-based violence.