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Coronavirus – Uganda: Games children play during COVID-19 in Kikuube District

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Sharif, Julius and Angel share their stories

As children wait for the government to open schools, they continue to engage in various activities at home including learning, helping with domestic chores, and above all, playing their favourite games. At a time when children are anxious about the future, and many are stuck at home for their safety, play is important. Children can play indoor or outdoor games using play materials they have in their surroundings. The play activities help them to focus on something other than the COVID-19 pandemic. Three children from Rujungu village in Kikuube District share games that keep them busy while their schools are shut.

Sharif Tumusiime, 11, was attending Primary 6 before the schools were closed. His days are busy with activities such as washing utensils, fetching water, and most of all, playing his favorite game, football, in the evenings. He plays with his brother Julius Musinguzi. 

Sharif loves Arsenal F.C. and his role model is Messi. “I know how to dribble,” he says proudly.

In a few seconds he tosses the ball in the air and balances it on his head. He is good with the ball. 

He says that the first thing he will do when his school reopens is to play with his friends and interact with Master Moses Miiro, the teacher of his best subject, English. However, he misses his best friend Nerbert Asinguzi who he hasn’t seen for months because he lives far away.

Sharif wants to become a doctor in the future. A doctor with a football passion.

Julius Musinguzi, 14, rides his locally made wooden bicycle. “Because of Corona, we were told to stay at home,” he says. When schools closed, Julius started making a wooden bicycle that has since become his favorite toy. Using pieces of wood he collected from the forest and a chisel, Julius built the bicycle in just two days. He uses the same tool to repair the bike when it breaks down. A Primary 4 pupil, Julius loves Social Studies and he misses studying.

But while schools are closed, he has a lot of fun riding his wooden bicycle. From time to time, he gives his siblings a ride. They love it when the bike rolls down the hill.

He uses the same bicycle to collect water from the well, an errand he is happy to do each day. Using a strong rope, he ties two water containers on his bicycle and off he goes to the water well. It can carry a maximum of six litres at a time. 

He also rides the bicycle to the market to buy food for the family when asked to do so. 

“Now that I have made a bicycle, I want to make a boat as my next project and then a helicopter using metal,” he says.

The young lad would like to become a mechanic in the future. But how about the boat and why a boat? “I love fishing and while I am at work as a mechanic, I will hire out the boat to make money,” he asserts.

Since he is not a football fan, he spends all his fun time riding his wonderful bicycle.

Angel Kasemiire is 9 years old and has not been to school since March 2020. Today she spends most of the time at her mother’s shop. She poses for a picture in the shop, something that she loves.

Away from the shop, Angel loves playing two of her favourite games with her best friends who live close by – Flavia Kemigabo and Hanifa Kemigisa, both 10 years old. One of the games is dodge ball also locally known as ‘kwepena’ and toss the ball or ‘kwechumira’. For both games, the girls need a ball, which they make themselves. In no time, the girls rush to a nearby banana plantation, get some materials and a ball is made. 

Swinging from side to side, one of them is in the middle dodging the ball shot from one end to another. Whoever gets hit, gives way for the next one. The girls love the game.

When they have had enough of dodge ball, they switch to the second game – toss the ball. They play as other young ones look on. The younger children want to join in.

The girls finish with a fun session of catching the ball that is tossed far up in the air. With not much to do while schools are closed, play is certainly keeping these young ones busy and active. And it is healthy.

 – Proscovia Nakibuuka Mbonye

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF Uganda.


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