Jerry Mbokani is my refugee son from Africa. The COVID-19 shutdown in Uganda where he is currently exiled has hit the urban refugee community in ways few of us can possibly imagine. If you are a refugee in the city, you work and then you eat. With all industry shut down, the refugee does not eat. All transportation in Uganda has been shut down as well. It is an impossible situation short of the miraculous provision by people who are the hands and feet of a living God.
In panic mode, when I lost my job due to COVID-19, I sent a few funds to Jerry to keep him and his family for another month. It pains me deeply to know that if I have no funds, I cannot help them. If I don’t help them, then they starve. Unconscionable.
As desperate as the situation is for all of us, there is always someone in worse shape and that is what Jerry knows too. He is a community organizer and fellow refugee willing to rally the troops to support the Congolese refugees who are in exile in Uganda. In the most desperate of times Jerry is burning up my email and WhatsApp asking me to help him help the refugees. “Will you proof my funding email mother? Will you let me link to your PayPal account so we can accept donations?” This is what Jerry is doing while in crisis and lock down.
Refugees who live in the city get no government assistance of any kind. There are no jobs short of ‘hawking’ which is selling goods on the street and perhaps some entrepreneurial ventures of a tailoring shop. If they cannot go out and work each day, then they do not eat. Starvation is already very real.
There is no refrigeration and they cook one-pot meals on charcoal. Beans and rice and maize flour are their staple foods
Jerry is trying to help 120 refugee families who are in dire need. There are 40 families who are homeless, there are 40 families at high risk and there are 40 single mother households who desperately need our help. Jerry will enlist help to provide food and sanitizers for an emergency relief project. They will walk or bicycle to the aid of their refugee community.
You can help right here and right now. This link goes to my PayPal.me/GPJStoryteller account. You can donate any amount right here Polly’s Storyteller PayPal Account. I will send it to Jerry’s mobile money account and he can send to those who can provide emergency relief for these people. We can truly save 120 families from starvation. These people have a name and face. We could be them.
PayPal has waived the instant transfer fees and World Remit has greatly reduced their mobile money fees and we are most grateful. I am sending funds daily and they are reaching the desperate daily. I am so pleased to report that people are being unbelievably generous even in our own uncertainty. There is always someone who has less than we do and always someone who needs our help more.
Jerry has also produced a video to help bring awareness of safety precautions for COVID-19. This is our new African film production company at work helping the community. It is called U-Speak Africa. It was produced without words as there are many languages in the community. Here is a link.
Here is Jerry’s plea:
“I come again to you to seek for your support as the lock-down continues here in Uganda which has impacted negatively many of Uganda’s urban poor, including refugees, the lack of access to markets to continue economic activities, coupled with the lack of official support, essentially condemns too many to languish at home. In “normal” times, urban refugees have the option to return to settlements for limited food or assistance, but this is not possible now due to the shutdown of all personal and public transportation. The economic impact of the lock-down has also put them in a state of limbo and hence threatens them with starvation.”
“Most refugees are hawkers, low-wage workers and roadside vendors who no longer have an income and therefore they are unable to provide food for their families and protect themselves from the contagion Covid-19. Many refugees will necessarily continue their businesses and hawking in order to survive. For those who defy the market closures, they will face arrest, and heightened risk of disease infection, including to spread the disease to their vulnerable family members at home and to other vulnerable people in their communities. Our intervention to provide immediate supplies allows people to stay at home, stay safe, and continue to eat and care for their families during this crisis. “
“We seek to raise $1,000 to provide sanitizers and emergency food relief to a minimum of 40 homeless, 40 families at risk and 40 single mothers to contribute to build frontiers and avoid the spread of Covid-19. Our consortium of refugee-led organizations stands in solidarity to purchase and deliver these supplies to many that are near to us in our own communities. For known vulnerable individuals and families who live in inaccessible areas, we will send mobile money to the family such that they can purchase these supplies from small sellers near to them. It only takes 20 well wishers to donate $50 each to reach this goal. However, any donation helps us to make a difference! We budget that it costs approximately $8 USD (30,000UGX) to buy sanitizer and supply per relief package.”
“Please support our OYOH_INITIATIVE_STOP_SPREAD_COVID-19 to keep refugees safe, at home, and out of harm’s way from continuing business that subjects them to arrest and disease. Please visit donate to Polly Riddell, my American Mother’s PayPal account and she will transfer the funds to me via mobile money. Paypal.me/GPJStoryteller
Thank you in advance for your great generosity! We, at OneYouth OneHeart Initiative, greatly appreciate your donation, and your sacrifice. Your support helps to create barriers to contribute to stop the spread of Covid-19.”
Polly Riddell writing as G. Polly Jordan is a storyteller connecting people and the stories they tell.
She is also the American mom to Jerry.