By Angella Nantege
With the reopening of schools, anxiety, excitement and eagerness fills the air, but not for everyone of the former teachers!
Uncertainty looms for many teachers like Florence Nankya who is not sure whether she should return to the teaching profession, after nearly two years of penny pinching without pay.
Nankya was initially cagey speaking about the hard times she and her family have had to withstand in the wake of coronavirus imposed lockdown that rendered her a beggar and relegated her to a squalid status in the community, living without a formal job and doing menial jobs -a thing she never dreamt of.
She said: “Like most people… … I was initially quite unbothered about stories of a new disease that was ravaging China and other countries. I brushed it off like any other news or any other news that would gradually die down, little did I know that the same the same disease and its attendant evils was about to wreak havoc on us too terribly.”
She, who declined to take photographs, recounts that when schools closed initially, she and her colleagues thought this could take a month, two or three and the situation would be contained and their lives would return to normal sooner than later.
But this was not to be!
Nankya, who teared up, told me that to survive, she decided to set up a fresh food stall.
“This business has been and still means everything in my life,” she said.
“I begged here and there … .lived on handouts from friends and a few relatives who would care to understand my plight.” She wipes her eyes and blows her nose into her apron.
“I begged for help until they got tired of me and I too felt humiliated enough and picked myself up, got a small loan of 100,000shs to start up something of my own.” Luckily enough for her, the money lender did give her tough conditions.
Before she set up the foods stall, she did laundry work in her neighbourhood, assisted by her children. Then the stall idea kicked in.
Under circumstance like this one wonders why she is not eager to return to teaching, a job she had done for over ten years.
“I am not sure if I should return … . to the same thing that has caused me pain, the same thing that I’ve always given my all- the same thing that was of no help at my hour of need,” she said of teaching.
She said her employer, a private primary school in the hub of Wakiso district, ceased making any payments as soon as the lockdown was announced so she was left to fend for herself.
She admits it’s the hardest moment of her life but somehow, she is now proud of the efforts and seems fondly attached to her small roadside hustle.
“I’ve realised and accepted at a certain point that my education doesn’t matter much, not anymore so why return to be pushed around over meagre pay? A meagre pay that had entirely stopped coming anyway? We were forgotten but God didn’t. I am grateful,” she said.