Following the outbreak of Coronavirus in China, a Ugandan student there has written home, preaching peace, hope as well as comforting fellow students
I have been living in China, in Beijing, since September 2019 as a student.
The purpose of writing this article is to try and reduce the panic among students who are currently in China. The same panic has in turn been transferred to many of their family and friends back home in Uganda.
Currently, many students are living in fear and some are unknowingly creating panic, so I felt the need as a fellow student to write these positive and remarkable steps we can be taking in the meantime as China overcomes the Coronavirus hardship.
There is lot of panic and spreading of rumours among the international students, their families and friends. But I have noticed that many of the Chinese people are not behaving in thisway.
This is because China has already fought similar battles with deadly disease outbreaks such as in 2003 when there was SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Sydrome) and MERS (MiddleEast Respiratory Sydrome) outbreak in 2012.
It may seem impossible, especially for the students in Wuhan. There are 800 Ugandan students in China, with 105 in Wuhan, a city most affected by the virus outbreak. But what I can urge them is jiayou, Chinese word meaning keep strong, keep fighting. We are united with you in this.
No Ugandans have been reported to having acquired the virus, and we have been tasked just like everyone else living in China at the moment to follow the set guidelines, such as staying indoors as much as possible and avoiding unnecessary outdoor movements, as well as taking more health precautions at alltimes such as wearing masks, washing hands, disinfecting rooms and generally maintaining good hygiene.
Rays of hope seem to be shinning as the only African student from Cameroon who had acquired the virus recovered and was discharged from the hospital.
In this period, the safest thing to do is staying indoors and making use of the time for self-development.
I wish fellow students could take on this move, because the primary goal of our being in China is studying. This must be achieved and now can be a good time when there are no distractions from the outside.
Do constructive things that develop you as opposed to worrying and calling home, complaining about the virus.
I have also built a strong emotional livelihood, despite constant bombardment of news about the virus pandemic.
I believe there is triumph in keeping calm, even the bible states in Proverbs 12.25, "Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." This shows that no one can change a situation by worrying about tomorrow.
I spoke to some students about how they are making use of their time, in the wake of the current situation.
I hope other students can learn from this and find something to do for personal development
Bob Abor, a Ugandan student
Bob Abor, a Ugandan student, studies and practices video editing as well as keeping his body fit by doing exercises in his room.
Jedidah Nyambura Waweru from Kenya
Jedidah Nyambura Waweru from Kenya says she makes use of this time to study. She is working on her dissertation.
You could revise your books from last semester or read ahead for what will be studied in the new semester. Many universities already offer an outline for the different topics to be discussed ahead of time.
I like to use the time to listen to gospel music; I am also learning how to play the guitar. I find music soothing and healing in times deemed troubling.
I also urge fellow students on learning to make use of persons around them, such as your caretakers at the university, as well as technology available.
I give advice to fellow students to contact school attendants instead of calling home.
The virus spread at the time of spring festival, December last year, when unfortunately many Chinese had travelled to their homes for celebrations with family and friends as is the tradition of the spring festival.
Also schools had already closed for the winter holiday. So Chinese students were already back to their homes and some international students had also travelled back to their countries while others remained at their schools.
With the rapid spread of the virus, people have been told to stay home as much as possible and come out briefly to buy food and sanitary items.
Furthermore, the temperature for passengers is checked at railway stations and airports across all cities in China. In case anyone has a high temperature (37.3 C and above), they are quarantined immediately for treatment.
Temperature testing is also done daily at institutions of learning, such as my university (Communication University of China).
Schools, colleges and universities have been extending their holidays, with students instructed not to go back to schools until the opening dates are communicated, so as to safe guard them from any contamination cases.
Measures have been taken at the administration level but what impressed me the most was the behaviour of the general public, maintaining calm and following the safety instructions.
Many citizens and foreigners as well have been generous in donating free medical equipment such as masks, supplying daily necessities and volunteering their time such as doctors and other staff to combat the situation.
What I believe Ugandans can do is to pray for us and China at large and our embassy in China should step up efforts to support students' welfare.
I strongly believe China will shine again soon.
The writer, Sarah Kisakye, is a student of International Journalism and Communication at the Communication University of China.