Lakewood nonprofit steps up to feed Ugandans

Rural areas of Uganda have struggled with food support during the pandemic

Joseph Rios
jrios@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/20/20

COVID-19 restrictions in Uganda have caused some of the country’s rural areas to struggle with access to food, according to Ugandan native Collines Angwech. While the country has only reported 126 …

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Lakewood nonprofit steps up to feed Ugandans

Rural areas of Uganda have struggled with food support during the pandemic

Posted

COVID-19 restrictions in Uganda have caused some of the country’s rural areas to struggle with access to food, according to Ugandan native Collines Angwech.

While the country has only reported 126 confirmed cases of the virus as of May 13, lockdown measures have been imposed by the government, forcing Ugandans to stay at home unless it is an emergency.

Angwech, who lives in the Amolatar District in Northern Uganda, said residents of the town went to markets before the pandemic and traded items like vegetables that they grew for other kinds of food. But with markets being closed, residents in the Amolatar District have nowhere to go to get food.

“We have people that are starving,” said Angwech. “Elderly people that used to be supported by the community are no longer getting support. We have orphans that live on their own that are not getting support or food. The situation has escalated to taking precautions to being safe to desperate need for the people.”

Angwech is a cofounder of Far Away Friends, a nonprofit that was also created by Jayme Ward, a Lakewood native and Lakewood High School graduate. Far Away Friends works to end generational poverty in rural communities — and as some of the Amolatar District residents have struggled to eat, they received a delivery of hope from Far Away Friends — four tons of food.

The Amolatar District received the food earlier this month that arrived on a truck that featured banners that said “Fighting COVID Together: Food Support from Far Away Friends.”

The donations came at a time when the Amolatar District was affected by flooding, The EastAfrican weekly newspaper reported. Far Away Friends said the flooding destroyed gardens and fisheries while hundreds of families have been displaced from their homes.

Uganda’s government has been providing food aid to Ugandans, but it has been slow to arrive to households, Collines said.

Despite the pandemic and thousands of Coloradans losing their jobs, Far Away Friends was able to purchase food for the Amolatar District because of donations from residents in Lakewood and the Denver area.

“We had no idea what to expect. We thought people would not be able to give — it has been incredible,” said Ward.

Angwech said the support from Far Away Friends to the Amolatar District has meant the world to the area’s residents. She said the food donations can make a difference in saving people who would’ve died from starvation.

“Each pack of food will last them for at least two weeks. We want to tell (residents who helped with the donation) we need them, and we are praying for them — but we are grateful they can stand with us during this season,” said Angwech.

Far Away Friends is hoping to find 140 residents by June 30 to make $25 donations each month toward its advocate campaign.

The campaign is geared to provide relief for the nonprofit’s Global Leaders Primary School in the Amolatar District. The school opened up in 2016 and serves around 250 students in grades preschool through seventh.

Donations to the advocate campaign will go toward providing emergency relief to families in the school’s network, paying teachers and helping children to get back into the classroom when it’s safe, Ward said.

“We’re continuing to pay teachers and staff throughout the crisis. But when this crisis ends, these families will need a break,” said Far Away Friends Education Programs Director Kaitlyn Phillips.

Before COVID-19, Far Away Friends started a tradition of taking students from Lakewood High School to Uganda to show them what life looks like for rural students in the country. This year’s trip has been postponed, but Far Away Friends hopes to take more students to the country in the future.

“Canceling the trip was a huge loss for us. Every year, a portion of trip costs pay for a project we do in the community,” said Ward. Last year, Far Away Friends used trip donations to fund new toilets for a high school in Uganda. “This is the first time since 2015 that we won’t be in Uganda, and we won’t be able to do a community project like that.”

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