I wash my own clothes, clean my own house, and tend my own gardens. Yet, twice a week I make my way past the screaming kids at the adjoining primary school to reach a barber shop in town. It’s a cheap luxury. A shave costs about 22 cents and gives me ten minutes where I can close my eyes and tune out the world.
My current barber, Davis is an affable guy. Yet, he is so short that I have to slouch down so that my ass reaches the edge of the chair and the apron barely makes it to just above my knees. Lying back like this I also tend to fall asleep. Somehow this works. Davis, a former primary school teacher who switched professions for a more steady income, now makes about two dollars a day at the shop (when there is electricity), while his wife continues to receive a salary at a local primary school to contribute to the income necessary to raise their children. I look forward to our short chats and the loud music that drowns out the rest of the conversation and insults.
Last Thursday, Davis left his shop in the evening to visit his wife at the school where she lives with their children. Later, when he returned to his shop, he found his padlock broken and all of his tools and equipment either missing or damaged. The same night, thieves stole a bunch of bananas from a shop across the street. The crimes were brash and cruel. While the perpetrators grabbed little that they can trade for cash, it will take weeks, if not months, for the businesses to recover. Davis’ shop remains shuttered.
While I can and do easily float between the different stratas of Ugandan society, I am today reminded of those that struggle to afford a simple plate of posho and beans, and how easily one can slip from everyday simple poverty into that of desperate poverty.