ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

Henry’s story

Henry harvesting coffee cherries

{This is our first “Papa Nguvu” recipient, Henry Sserumaga. We have known Henry for several years now and we have always been impressed with his gentle good nature. He has always supported our work with Prossy and has never shown the jealousy or possessiveness that many of our Mamas’ husbands have exhibited. It was an easy decision for us to agree to support his own plan. Presented below is Andrew’s story in its original format. I have deliberately left it as he wrote it in order to give you a taste of the rhythms and voice of this man. –ed}

The Tale of Henry Sserumaga

We have known Henry for a while now, since 2013-2014. He is the husband and partner to Prossy Lumbuye our 1st Mama Nguvu partner. They have been married for more than 30yrs and have four children, two boys and two girls. I sat with him for about 2-3 hrs to listen to his story so that I could draw this final draft write-up for all of us who have known or at least have been reading about him for the last 2-3 years. 

An incredible man, a father and a husband. He is humble, dedicated and very hardworking. One of us described Henry as, “…a man who gives me faith in Ugandan men.”

At times we meet people, talk to them and we assume that we know them but it is incredible to listen to their life story of anyone. Listening gives you a new revelation and viewpoint. It will almost cause transformation within your mind and this achieves such a great respect for the person in ways more than one.

This is the Tale of Henry Sserumaga Lumbuye,

On the 28th of June 1958, Sserumaga Henry Lumbuye was born to Mr. Ssebowa Dodovik(o) and Mrs. Anna Namusisi both local farmers who have since passed to the next life. Born in  Bulemezi town, in a district called Luweero, in a village called Naluvule located on the Highway from Kampala to Gulu. Henry is the second child and the oldest boy of eight children, only five are still here. 

Henry spent a lot of time farming and animal grazing, especially cows as a young boy because of his family background. His father planted a lot of coffee, cotton and other foodstuffs that helped them go through life and school at large. 

Henry started school at about 6 years and he went to Naluvule Primary School. Schooling was a bit different at that time because they had only 4 classes before one could join Junior one and two. Today we have Nursery school or Kindergarten, Primary, Secondary and then whichever tertiary institution. Henry started school in about 1962 or 63 and his most memorable moment was the fact that they had grass-thatched classes. They didn’t have desks and pupils sat on the floor. The only thing between their bottoms and the floor was a specific type of grass called “Teete” pronounced as “tteh-te”. Only the teacher sat on a papyrus chair.

In 1986, Henry joined Junior 1 and 2 after his 4th year, in a place called Kasaala. He later transferred to Nakasongola district. He joins St. George’s College, Mukono for his secondary school finishing the highest level of Senior 4 at that time. At this point, it was 1971, and his father told him that he didn’t have any more money and Henry had to let his siblings study too. He completed a certificate in commercial subjects, including Accounts, Shorthand, Typing and English. At this point there were no computers so they used typewriters so for two years he pursued the above and he graduated. 

In about 1971-72, Henry started working because of this specific set of skills enrolling as a teacher of  Math (Pure Math) and English at a school called St. Kizito Senior Secondary School. He taught for about 2 years but eventually left because he was not paid regularly by the proprietor who was a Reverend.

He later joined The Automobile Association of East Africa as a clerk. This was the company or organization charged with the responsibility of issuing permits for cars moving and crossing the borders within East Africa. Henry worked as a clerk and permit issuer until the organization was dissolved during the Idd Amin era as president, in 1976. Idd Amin with his foreign policy suspended all Asian and white people from Government-Owned institutions. As a result the organization eventually closed. Ella Gomesi was the CEO of the organization at this point.

At this juncture in the interview, Henry talks about the gentleman called “Ella” Gomesi. He says that Gomesi was a Goer of some kind of Indian descent and his Father was also called Gomesi. His father was the first tailor to sew a local Baganda dress (Gomesi) that has become a traditional dress for most Baganda women during traditional marriages. It is a long dress that is usually made out of silky fabric but now due to trends and style, they use fabric with stones and shiny ornaments. 

Henry went back to his village after the organization closed but as luck had it for him, he was contacted by a friend and introduced to his first government job. Henry had no experience in this field but got the job anyway. In 1977, Henry was employed as a security supervisor for Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB). His work at the time included going to the police every morning to request policemen who worked as guards for the bank. He worked at the bank for more than 9 years and he got transferred a couple of times to Masaka and Kyotera throughout this time and eventually to his home district of Luweero. 

In 1986 shortly after the Museveni war, Henry went back home to Luweero. His home had been so dilapidated due to the overthrow war of Idd Amin. He had just returned from working in Masaka when he was transferred back to Luweero. Henry says the war broke up in a funny way saying he knew nothing of it until he woke up that morning and went to the Police Station to pick up the policemen. He was told no one was there yet and that he should go back later. When he went back, he was officially told no policeman was available because the Country was at war. He was advised along with others to go back home and not attempt to travel to Kampala. The rebels had taken over the city of Kampala.

He arrived home in 1986 after the war. This new government reviewed his file and found that he was from Luweero that’s when they sent him back to develop his home district. Everyone had just returned from the bush because Luweero was one of the places that were most affected by the war in the famous Luweeo Triangle War. His parents had also just returned with barely anything on their backs. They asked him why he was there and he says that he had been transferred to Luweero. 

During his supervisory duties at the bank, he met Prossy working at her restaurant and she eventually becomes his wife until this date. She was serving food to her customers in a jolly mood when he saw her. Henry described her as “…jumping around” and he got interested. He respectfully called her and asked her about herself. He was surprised to know that Prossy was from that area. Henry was a formidable young man with a good government job and he was living in a large house rented for him by the government. 

He would ride his bicycle to and fro to work at the bank but return to see Prossy every day. He eventually dropped the house and started living with Prossy in her small one-roomed house. It was closer to his workplace too. They started their lives here and two years later, in about 1988, they give birth to a baby boy called Zaake (Zakaria). Immediately after his birth, Henry was transferred to a place called Kapeeka. 

Henry didn’t want to leave but he had signed up to work anywhere as a civil servant. Prossy’s business had picked up and everything was flying. They had started making friends and getting known around so he couldn’t go with her, therefore, he went alone. Kapeeka was not an easy place because people there were heavily armed so it was a bit scary but he had to work. Every weekend, he would ride his bicycle to his see little family after ensuring that all other employees knew their roles. 

The bank eventually collapsed because these armed fellas would take loans from the bank and never pay them back. These men had become farmers so they took loans to develop themselves whenever the officials went to collect, they would say that money was part of their compensation. When the organization closed, all workers were given options to choose where to go or to resign. This was about 1996 and technological advancement was at hand. They wanted people who knew computers so Henry gets phased out. They did not allow them to learn or be trained but rather they asked them to resign.

Henry resigned, started farming on his Coffee plantation and looked after the cows that had been handed down to him by his father. Prossy had moved closer to the city and was working in her restaurant in a place called Kawempe. She was renting a little house at about 1,500/- Uganda Shillings at the time. When Prossy heard about the job loss, she asked Henry to move to the city so they could work together at the restaurant. Henry wondered what his contribution would be but if you know Prossy, Henry wasn’t going to stay. He had only one option, to leave. 

They lived in Kawempe for a few months and Henry got a caretaker job and landscaping.  He was working for the City Council cleaning trenches. He was offered by one of their customers who used to eat at their restaurant and one day, he asked him if there is anything he could do. Henry explained to him that he could do anything. Although Henry got this job, he was irregularly paid. Later Henry is offered another job to work on his farm and took it. Henry was not paid much but this man gave them a place to live and garden. This is about the 2000s. 

This is about the time Erika meets Vicent and eventually meets the entire family. Henry appreciates all that ISEE has done for his entire family. We have worked with his family starting from the piggery farm, chickens and paper bag making. All these projects had a good and prosperous time while we engaged in them. 

Henry worked for this man for a long time but he didn’t pay or compensated him for all the work he did for him. He then sold the property on which Prossy and the kids were living and gives them just 1 million Uganda Shillings. The person who bought the property gave them another one million shillings to restart their lives. He also offered them transportation for them to go to wherever they were moving to. 

Luckily, they had this current plot they are living on so they restarted life. Using some of the timber and iron sheets from the old Mama Nguvu piggery project sty, they erected one room and Henry lives here with all the projects going on. He has taken over the responsibility to care for the pigs and garden after Prossy had to leave and go take care of her ill mother. The piggery process has been difficult because he had never done that, but he has since broken through this year and everything looks much better. He has erected a coop to start his project. 

cutting sugarcane

Through all these years, Henry and Prossy have had 4 children Zakaria, Hellen, Prossy and Vicent. They have four grandchildren, Zaake has three and then Prossy has one. They have cared for two or three more people including one called Kate, who we met in 2013. Kate is now a qualified teacher.

Ssebowa Henry Lumbuye is now living happily ever after on his little property in Bujuuko, Mityana Road. He is hardworking as always and he would have loved to be with his wife Prossy but after her mother’s demise, Prossy has had to move temporarily to her mothers’ plot. She is taking care of the property and grandchildren her mother left behind. Henry loves to farm and garden so every day he goes to the garden, works his craft and returns home. He thereafter feeds and  takes care of the pigs. He cooks for himself and we will be working on arranging that because that plank house “Coop” is designed for the chickens and smoke might not work well with the chickens.

Interview by,

Andrew Echel, Director of Programs ISEE Solutions Society

May 25 update

Greetings to you all,

I hope you are all well. We have had quite a fantastic month of perfect weather in between with both sunny and rainy days. 

Sarah’s goats

Mamas are working on returning the kids to school so most of them have been working towards this goal. I have spoken to several of them, and a few of them have set money aside to ensure that these kids return to school smoothly. Some have bought educational/scholastic materials while others are getting requirements for the kids, things that the school requires of them to attend school.

The following are the Mamas that I was able to visit this week;

Sarah’s granddaughter in front of the goat house

I went down to Wakiso to meet Sarah, our Mama who keeps goats but unfortunately she had gone for their Friday Mass at the Catholic church. Otherwise, I found her kids home and they had returned from school about a week ago. I was happy to see that she had repaired the goat house walkway. It had been damaged for months now but on that day, I found that they had repaired it and they had taken the goats to the field. They looked much healthier and Sarah’s boy was taking care of them in the field to prevent them from getting lost or being stolen.

Hadija back at her stall

It was good to see Hadija for the first time in about two weeks after her loss. She was at her roadside chips stall making chips for her customers. I was happy to see her composed and already on the go to try and make her life happen. Unfortunately, she had to close the second stall because they had run out of money due to hospitalization but it is good to see her back on the street to grind again. She is determined and wants to rebuild and set up her closed business again. She was thankful to ISEE for the support during these last two weeks, calling her and looking out for her to see if she is doing well.

Irene braiding hair

It looks like Irene was happy during my last visit. She was working on a client outside her salon as it seemed to be a bit hot that day. She started cooking cow feet and selling silverfish from just outside her salon and it looks like it is paying up. We had a strong feeling to support her business-wise by enabling her to have alternate income streams rather than just financially. This empowers her to become sustainable.

Angel washing a client’s hair

After clearing up a small misunderstanding which arose between the Jolly and Angel, I decided to closely work with them every week by visiting their salon and encouraging them. By the look of things, it seems everything is going well and I will keep doing it for the next few weeks. They have been able to help in paying for treatment for Francoise, at least partially and that is a good thing. 


Francoise is recovering well but much slower than anticipated because of many factors which include her long-term illness but also feeding and a bit of stress here and there. We decided to yet again work with her to set up her food business and ensure it is running so she can pay the remainder of her medical bit. Work will also ensure that the family has food and keep her busy not to stress a lot about the family. She also narrated a bad experience in the last week when a robber broke into their house but lucky enough she woke up and he ran out. The robber had opened the door wide open without breaking it even as the padlock was on the door. She said these robbers have also broken into two other houses by pouring acid in the locks and the locks disengaged.


Pulakiseeda is having quite a struggle for a long time as her shop is seriously needing a boost. She is one of the Mamas who have maintained their business for such a long time without needing help. She is even having a hard time coming up with exam registration fees for her son so we stood by her on this one. We are also working on a budget to see if she can be supported to restock the shop.

Jane in her front yard

Jane is doing okay with her water business even though things are tough on the paperbag business. She says that it has slowed down and she is making two batches of paper bags a week as opposed to the three or four batches she used to make in the past months. Her grandson Francis has been doing good over the past few months and she says he has not fallen sick at all since the year began.


I followed up on Justine and work has been on hold for some weeks. She has not done any construction but has been waiting for some money from her son who is working in the UAE. They have been working on clearing the house from the rubble on the floor, flattening it to raise the floor higher than it used to be to prevent the previous floodings. She said that some money would come in by the end of the week and by next week hopefully they will be back in the main house again just in time before the kids go back to school. Otherwise, the vegetable stall is doing well and thanks to the renovation, the rain has not interrupted business activities much except the fact that the road has been messed up so she can’t bring in more vegetables as she would like.

Anna’s son with some of her cookies

I reached out to Anna to see how her baking business is going and she said everything was going as planned and that she has been making cookies mostly. The only thing that has not gone according to plan is the expansion of the clientele. She has a few shops she supplies to and has been doing some groundwork to ensure she increases the number of shops she is supplying. She is also working on now adding cupcakes or what we call queen cakes here to the cookies to expand further. She is also happy to be able to do it with her children too. I am happy to see that she has started to implement her plan slowly.

Lastly, I went out to visit Margaret and she had travelled to her village so I was unable to see her. I also tried to reach out to Jane (2) but she had been in the village for weeks now trying to take advantage of the rainy season to do some planting before coming back to send her children and grandchildren to school. This Mama is incredibly hardworking and she never stops going regardless of the hardships she has been through these past two years having lost her home and property.

Report by;

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda.

ISEE Solutions Society