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COVID-19 Resilience: From Classroom to Food Café Owners

Two teachers of St Gracious schools in Lira district have established a food café business to earn a living as they wait for schools to reopen.

Audio 5

 Two teachers of St Gracious schools in Lira district have established a food café business to earn a living as they wait for schools to reopen.     

Elvis Thomas Otim, a Chemistry and biology at St. Gracious Secondary School together with Norman Okwir, a teacher at St. Gracious Primary PSchool, learnt the hard way in 2020 when the president announced a total lockdown of the country due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.     

Because schools were closed, teachers especially those in private schools were rendered jobless and yet they had to not only provide for themselves but their families too.       

During that time, Otim’s rented house was locked and properties thrown out because he defaulted on rent. This triggered his mind to think of something to do and be able to support his family.       

Otim was lucky that schools opened for a few months and he was able to save some money. With his last salary and savings, Otim together with his colleague had enough to rent a small space for a café after schools closed again early this year.       

Epic Cafeteria began operating on 4 September 2021. Located at Shine Petrol Station at Corner Boroboro in Lira city, the café serves deep-fried fish, deep-fried chicken, goat’s meat and all kind of snacks and juice.       

//Cue in: “I started saving…   

Cue out: … 4th of September.”//     

The initial idea of a restaurant was not viable because the capital they had was too little.       

“So we brain-stormed and came up with ideas on how we can best use the place. At first we were thinking of a restaurant but we saw that the restaurant will require a lot of things we we started a food café where we are dealing in snacks and juice.," Otim says.     

The new café has one small problem though. Since it serves mostly snacks and juice, the people attracted to it are those working in the few open offices, meaning business is slow.         

//Cue in: “Since the month of…   

Cue out: … get from here.”//     

Despite the low sales, Otim is able to pay rent and put food on his table, something he was unable to do during the first lockdown.       

//Cue in: “This place is helping…   

Cue out: … getting from here.”//     

Meanwhile Okwir says teaching is a calling which he is not willing to give up. He says he will go back to teach alongside running the business.       

. //Cue in: “If something is…   

Cue out: … think outside the box.”//     

The duo, who has a big dream of expanding the business into a restaurant, a supermarket and a food hub for the entire district, wants support from the entire community around.       

//Cue in: “To all our…   

Cue out: … want to eat.”//             

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