Bruno Oryegiu, Zombo District
Despite the current lockdown, I continue to serve community as part of the “Motorcycle Home Ambulance Teams” in Zombo District that transport vulnerable people from their homes to health services and back.
The country’s lockdown caused us to be very creative. Many public transport service providers including motorcycles have been suspended. While the directive still holds, women in Zombo are accessing health services, thanks to the coordination of the Zombo District Health Office and the Parish health centers in respective sub-counties. Zombo District Health Office through the Parish health centers selected disciplined motorcyclists who also have a background with community work and promoting gender equality, and trained them to be part of the “Motorcycle Home Ambulance teams” to transport vulnerable people like expectant mothers, sick children, survivors of violence among others, to health centers. The greatest number of our clients are expectant mothers. I am pleased to share that I was selected to be part of the Motorcycle Home Ambulance teams because I am a Community Resource Person (COMBAT) trained by NAWOU. I am known for promoting and advocating for the rights of women and girls.
In the effort to serve community in such a way especially in the critical times, I am challenged with scarcity of fuel which has led to increased fuel prices; a litre of petrol now costs Shs. 4,400. This facilitation is sometimes not available at the health centers so I have to find all possible means to continue being a resource to the community. Because I transport people who need medical attention to health centers, I have also made visits to wards and noticed that the beds are fully occupied with mostly mothers sleeping on floors in the hospital wards in need of medical attention.
The COVID 19 pandemic has paused all manner of challenges; from individual to family level and national level in regard to economic, social and political aspects. Currently, planting of beans and maize is on-going in my community; coffee planting will follow soon. Finding seeds for planting is difficult considering the fact that there is a current financial constraint among most people, with very few shops dealing in agricultural inputs like seeds. In most homes, children including the youth are not attending school and neither are they selling harvests, they mainly work with parents in the family gardens. The social distancing directive from the Ministry of Health has had a positive impact on the community in that for most men, drinking local brew with friends at bars has reduced; they now spend more time with their families and engaging in farm activities. One of the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic to us farmers is lack of market for our produce. We used to socialize during market days, sell our crops and get money, right now we cannot because we have to practice social distancing. Most farmers, myself inclusive have put the cassava into storage as we wait to sell after the lockdown. We anticipate to sell a kilogram of cassava in a price range of Shs. 1,500 to 1,700. As a farmer, I am worried about people not having enough money to afford food prices. As member of Okoro Coffee Cooperative society, and a Village Savings and Loans Association trainer, I am aware that people are not saving due to lack of finances. I have made follow-ups with many VSLA group leadership committees; the submission from most of them is that VSLA operations