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EPSRC CDT in Sensor Technologies for a Healthy and Sustainable Future


During my 10-day mandatory COVID-19 quarantine, I reflected on my journey to Cambridge. I concluded that it can best be described using an African proverb, it takes a village to raise a child.


My story dates back to 2020 when I was offered a place in the 2020/2021 cohort. I was not able to take up my place due to reasons beyond my control. Fortunately, that is also when I got to be nurtured by a ‘village’ in the form of the CDT Sensor Technologies and Applications leadership. They reached out and encouraged me that what happened was not the end of my journey, and that I should continue learning. They also involved other bodies like Cambridge-Africa, the support of which I am grateful for.


Fast forward to March 2021 when I received my offer for the academic year 2021/2022. I was ecstatic. The significance of being admitted twice by the University of Cambridge to read for my desired course was not lost on me. Despite my enthusiasm, I was bombarded with negative thoughts. What had changed since last year? In fact, the situation had gotten worse. We had to undergo a second lock-down in Uganda on account of rising COVID-19 cases attributed to the Delta variant. Youthful friends and colleagues, that were previously assumed less vulnerable, were now dying or fighting for their lives. For a good number of them, access to medical services was not possible. This being as a result of a combination of inadequate public health systems and prohibitively expensive private medical care services. Moreover, only 1% of the targeted 22 million people to be vaccinated had received at least one dose of the vaccine. Vaccine doses were in short supply and thus only reserved for the most vulnerable citizens. It easily seemed like history would repeat itself.


In this gloom, the ‘village’ rallied around me. Gradually every seemingly insurmountable challenge was overcome. From meeting my offer conditions to checking into the mandatory government quarantine, I have not walked alone. The course leadership has stood by me every step of the way.


And on my last day in quarantine, I find myself grateful despite the melancholic isolation mood. Grateful for being here, and longing to resume my human contact by giving the people that have walked with me a truly African hug – I hope this is allowed! For the questions about my quarantine experience, I hope to use them as ice breakers with my colleagues.


I could not have crossed paths with some of the people I now know had it not for this experience. And I got to understand the words of Robin Sharma that 'there are no negative or positive events but rather experiences of which some we meet the intended outcome and others an unexpected or disappointing outcome. Our role is to experience them, celebrate them and learn from them'. It is my hope that someone reading my experience gets encouraged to persevere and finds a support system to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel.


I am indebted to a lot of people but allow me to extend my special thanks to Phillip Mair, Suzanne Boone, Roisin Owen, David Morgan and Corrina Alberg. Thank you for being my support system.