When we chose dates for the iDELTA course six months ago, we had no idea that the evening after the majority of students and staff arrived, the country would go into lockdown! Wow! Talk about timing!


A second wave of COVID-19 has hit Uganda. Each of our staff and students have been tested (sometimes several times) and found to be negative. The conference center staff are staying on the center, and so not exposed to outside factors. There are quite a few protocols in place like wearing masks, socially distancing, washing hands, using sanitizer. We even provided face shields for students who wanted to be even more secure. We have spread the students out as much as possible in the classrooms, so we feel we are being reasonably safe. Our tea breaks and devotional times are held out of doors in a very beautiful setting. The weather is very pleasant, feels like a lovely spring day.


So, when the government shut down schools and churches, we didn’t qualify as either of those. We are technically in a “hotel”. The fact that there are acres of trees and grass around us just means it is a very pleasant hotel. The Vervet monkeys are also entertaining. As we were taking our tea break, a pile of bananas sat on the table, a very tempting opportunity. As the bananas were getting rather too much attention, someone grabbed the tray and moved it closer to the people. The monkeys moved in, and one seemed to be begging for a banana. Of course, if we start feeding them, we will have more monkeys than people in short order!


Transportation is getting more limited. The small buses that carry lots of people normally are being banned as there is no social distancing possible. After the children get home from boarding school, the buses will not be allowed out of their districts. Likewise, the fees for transport are skyrocketing, and the government is trying to crack down on those taking advantage of the situation. Of course, it is a question as to the advisability of sending children home from school. The children are getting COVID and probably passing it on to their teachers. That is how our director thinks he got it, from his son in boarding school who came in for an appointment with the eye doctor. Now, they have the opportunity to take it home to their parents and grandparents. With very low vaccination rates, the results may not be desirable.


We are trying to plan various activities for the weekends. Students often like to go visit friends or family members, but that would not be acceptable in this situation. So, game nights, movie nights, recorded church services are all on the list. On Friday this week, we will have a session about COVID and the vaccine. There is a skit involved, so it should be entertaining. Margaret and I rescued some bamboo stalks from a smoldering fire to use during the skit. I’m sure the students wonder what we are up to now.


A professor from Makarere University is supposed to be coming to visit my Phonetics class on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I hope we make a good impression!