No traveling, no movement, no visiting, it feels like the world is ending. I spent a month worrying about the global situation caused by coronavirus. I was so much worried about getting the coronavirus, losing my part-time job and dealing with online classes. I forgot to think that there are people out there who are struggling with the coronavirus and hunger as well.
Two weeks ago, I communicated to one of my contacts in the refugee camps in Uganda and he told me that the UN has reduced the amount of food they are giving to all the people in the camps and people are starving to death. I confirmed his statement with some of my Sudanese friends who are working there for the UN – and I got the same information. The reason why the UN decided to reduce the food amount is due to the lockdown caused by the coronavirus. This is a terrible oversight that is terrible for everyone.
During my evening prayers, I asked God to intervene. It is not easy to be troubled by coronavirus and hunger at the same time. The next day, I shared the information with my Daddy, Chris Hurley, and he helped me start raising money for food for the people in the Refugees camp. I worked to send the money to my close friend Richard Abe, the young man who is taking care of my girls in Arua Uganda. Richard Abe lives 3 hours away from the refugee camp. We worked out a plan of action for him to get enough food to take to our villagers in the UN camp. It reminded me of my work to send trucks into Yei – my doomed village in 2016. I had to find trucks and drivers and plan to get over 2,000 out. This was much the same but instead of getting everyone out, we were planning to get food in.
Time was short since they had not had food rations for over 3 weeks. My initial plan was to buy rice but I realized the current price of rice was much too expensive. We bought maize flour and red beans instead and took all of it in 3 trucks. We finally had everything in place but due to the Easter holiday weekend, the money could not reach the banks in Uganda from Thursday to this last Tuesday (yesterday). The effects of the delay worried me a lot and it took a while to get the money to that side of the world. Maybe the delay helped a little due to the UN and Uganda restrictions on shipments into the Camps.
(Understand the camps have over 100,000 mostly South Sudanese refugees living there – and because the war still going on across the border, there is great concern that mean people will sneak poison food into the camp. This is what I had to guard against in my planning of these shipments and also convince the UN and Ugandan State authorities that what we were wanting to do was healthy. I had to write them a formal letter about my intentions and tell them who I am and why I was doing this. On the other hand, I was very concerned that since I had plans for food for only those families that were MY villagers – about 2,000 – that we could get this shipment to them without serious problems.)
Since all the stores were closed so Richard was resourceful and got the cellphone number of the store manager written on the food store building and called the manager at home to do that transaction. All while waiting for the money to get to his bank account, he had to look for more food suppliers since the price of rice was greater than we could afford. He had to negotiate prices with them on the spot. He also went ahead and got trucks ready to transport the food from Aura (town) to the refugee camps. As far as rules are concerned, Richard and Viola (my adopted daughter) could not just show up with food in the camp as I feared. There are steps to follow. I had to contact the camp leaders from Maryville Tennessee USA, and the UN representatives, and the office of the Prime Minister to get permission to give food to the people. We got the permission granted and Richard and Viola got camp women who we knew were strong with strong family ties and could be trusted and involved them in the food distribution process.
The assumed number of family members per household is 8 people but there are families that have more than 8 people. African families are extended families. The money bought 225 bags of 25kg of maize flour which is equivalent to 5,625kg (12,400 pounds) and 1,125kgs (2,480 pounds) of beans – almost 7.5 metric tons of food. This food will serve between 1,800 to 2,000 people.
I’m so excited that the food was delivered and disturbed successfully TODAY – April 15th to my South Sudanese brothers and sisters. This is the tough time and we need one another. Helping someone in this difficult time means a lot. Let us support one another to make it through this devastating moment – I hope others help with food as well and I hope the governmental restrictions will be lifted to allow everyone in the camps to again have food delivered.