It’s very difficult for Americans to put themselves in the shoes of rural Ugandans. I try to do so, by thinking of what they can afford with the money they earn. If they have a job, which few do, it can pay $4 per day. Many people do not have jobs, and so have to scrape by on far less. In America, many jobs pay $100 per day or more. How can we imagine what it is like? I often make the following calculation: since a Ugandan earns 10,000 UGX (Ugandan shillings) per day (if they have a nice job), and an American with a job might earn $100 per day, I will take 2 zeroes off the 10,000 UGX per day and it becomes 100...or $100 USD. Now what if we do that to the prices of common items for sale in Uganda? What if we take off 2 zeroes? That helps you to “feel” the pinch of what a Ugandan can afford, even one with an envied job. So, imagine that you are earning your current salary in America, and you go to Wal-mart, and discover that…
A single banana costs $2.00
Butter is $25.00 per stick.
Milk is $56.00 per gallon (yes, fifty-six dollars)
Eggs are $3.75 for one single egg
An apple costs $20.00 (apples are luxuries in Uganda!)
1 mango is $5.00
1 watermelon is $50.00
1 pineapple is $30.00
A whole chicken is $200.00
One pound of meat is $36.00
1 pound of flour is $10.00
1 ear of corn is $3.00
1 bottle of soda is $10.00
1 pound of sugar is $10.00
1 pound of salt is $20.00
1 pound of rice is $13.60
A small piece of chicken and a plate of rice at a cheap restaurant costs $20.00
Rent on a small (100 square feet) one-room, windowless apartment with shared bathroom in a poor section of town is $300.00 per month. Renting a 3 bedroom house is at least $4,000 per month.
What about clothes:
A new pair of trousers is $250.00 (You can find one used for $100.00)
A new button shirt is $200.00 (You can find one used for $50.00)
What about transportation?
A gallon of gas costs $136.00 (yes, one hundred and thirty six dollars)
A cheap small car costs $50,000
A ride across town on the back of a motorcycle costs $10.00
How much of this could you afford? This is the reality for all but the wealthiest Ugandans. This helps you to see how difficult it is for most Ugandans to eat well and be well-nourished. Many children and adults might get meat once per month, or less. Many might drink milk, once a week at the very most.
We have the great privilege to love these brothers and sisters, who are in this type of financial situation. If God has blessed us with so much more, we have the great privilege to be “generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:18). We have the great privilege to imitate Christ: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Are we willing to become poor(er) so that others might become rich(er)? Are we willing to make real sacrifices, like Jesus did so that others can be lifted up? Most Ugandans we know are not lazy. There are some lazy drunkards. But many are diligent hard-working brothers and sisters who are greatly encouraged when far wealthier believers show them the love of Christ. What a privilege! What a joy!