ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

November 26 update

William Penn once said.. 

“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

I hope you are doing well and keeping safe. This week I have come across so many headlines of the new rise in infections across the world just like it has been in the last few weeks. We can only change these statistics one person at a time, by protecting ourselves first or else we are headed for tougher times. I have read many articles both online and in the papers about families who have lost loved ones and now the pain is getting more intense as we close in to the festive season. The festive season is usually filled with family gatherings and celebrations and now families are starting to feel the absence of the ones gone from fathers to grandparents who they shared with tables. For all our readers we want to send to you positive vibes and comfort throughout this season’s celebration. As always the message remains: stay safe, stay sociable and keep social distance as you show love and support. 

These past weeks in Uganda haven’t been the best from the obvious political environment that most of you have read about and seen reports on twitter feeds and other forms of media platforms. The other challenge arose from the constant rains that have been falling in Uganda and causing many landslides that have caused several deaths in the south western part of Uganda. In districts like Kasese district reports are that at least six people have been killed from mudslides. The world seems to be in some kind of disaster at the moment as death has descended on this world; let us stand together even as individuals in our homes and wherever we are as we make this world a better place.

This week for us here like I already mentioned has been slow because of the many rains that have been consistently falling and disrupting every activity at hand. I managed to reach Rehema N, Florence A, Lilly A, Christine N, Maria A, Irene and Amina A.

Rehema

Rehema N., is doing okay and she is really happy lately. She has also been picking up a few little casual jobs like doing laundry to supplement her income. The charcoal is not yielding as much because we only got her one bag as a trial and then secondly one of Rehema’s girls goes to a distant school so she incurs a lot of transport costs. Therefore, she has decided to take on small chores like these around her area to earn some extra cash to meet some of these demands.

Florence in her salon

Florence’s season is kicking in and she is being prepared trying to buy more hair and hair products. She is excited about the season because for her this is the season for business. Otherwise, she is well and her kids are doing fine too. 

We managed to get some boost for Lilly this week to be able to acquire some fabric for her sewing project this season. When I was at her shop, she was working on an order for festive tablecloths for some people in town. The thing is that she does not make much if these people buy her fabric like they had done this time. So we decided to boost her and help her buy fabric and second hand clothes that she will remake and re-sell in the local markets for Christmas. She was really excited by our gesture and she was very thankful for our support. She will be able to buy fabric for herself sometime this week.

Christine at Maria’s house

I was also able to meet Christine N., our poultry and piggery Mama. One of the reasons why I was reaching out to her was to get an update about the court sessions and proceedings that were scheduled for 20th November 2020. It was unfortunate that the sessions were not available because of the riots that happened last week. She reached out and the judge has rescheduled the court date to 7th December 2020. Otherwise, she is doing well. She told me that pigs are healthy and the chicks have now been moved from the brooder to the actual poultry house. It is unfortunate that I still can not go to the house until all this is sorted so we can’t have any pictures of the animals at the moment. We can only meet at Maria’s at the moment.

Maria and piggy friends

Maria N., unfortunately is having trouble with her chickens because they seem to have fallen sick. They have developed wounds around their eyes and Christine told her about a certain medicine to use so hopefully they can recover. She has already lost five of them and we want to keep it at that. On the other hand, her pigs are doing well. They are really healthy and looking good. The three pigs are pregnant and they look well fed so we wait for them to deliver in about 2 months she said. She will be looking into creating more space in the pig pen because she still has 2 month old pigs. She can not really sell them off because they will not attract as much value as she would have wanted.

Irene

Things have not been good for Irene L. lately because she received an eviction notice from her landlord to move at the end of December 2020. She is trying to look for a place for her salon. Irene was also robbed of charcoal worth a lot of money. She had been saving throughout the year and had saved around 1.5million Uganda shillings and she gave it all to her usual charcoal supplier but the guy took the money and disappeared. Irene had anticipated that during the festive season a lot of cooking is done, so she wanted to buy a lot of charcoal to be able to meet the demand in the season. It is unfortunate she can not find this guy even after multiple efforts. She has decided to let it go and focus on looking for a house. {note: we have made money available to Irene in order to cover the initial terms of rentals in Uganda (3 months’ rent up front, plus often another deposit) -ed.}

Irene had plans to train her son during this season when he was not able to go to school, for him to do manicures and also cut men’s hair. She wanted him to make money and be able to save up for his school sometime next year but all efforts seem to be falling apart at the moment. She shared with me her story about not being able to attain education and how it has affected her adulthood. She doesn’t want her children to go through the same so she has been trying to put them into school but also give them some manual skills to equip them for their future and life ahead.

Amina

Lastly, I went down to see Amina. Her house was broken into last week and she was beaten by the robbers. She was bruised a bit but is now doing better. The robbers didn’t find a lot to take but they took a phone and also a bag that contained their family documents, which ended up being destroyed and now she has to replace them. We are looking into helping her replace her phone so we are able to reach her whenever we need to at the moment. {note: we offered to replace Amina’s phone simply so that she would have a phone, not because we want to be able to contact her whenever we want. She has decided, however, to go unplugged for a while and is instead using the money we offered to pay for her daughter’s end-of-terms exam fees. -ed.}

Otherwise her business is still present and she is also cooking food for a secondary school nearby to help her boost her earnings. This is a good gesture from our Mamas, when I find them trying to do certain things to improve their lives. It makes me feel that we are in this together with them, trying to improve their livelihood. She is also training her daughter by involving them in the cooking and serving process of the food to the students. 

Like William Penn said in his quote as mentioned at the  top of our blog, I hope we can all aspire to make a difference in the lives that we come across regardless of whether it is physical or virtual like our case. What matters is the effect of what we have done in our space and time here. 

I want to thank you for all your support and donations. We could not have done what we had been able to do this year without all of you. I send you good thoughts of health, peace and joy through this festive season.

Yours in service

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Ug.

ISEE Solutions Society.

November 19 update

Greetings to you all,

I hope that you are all doing well. I am specifically concerned about everyone because the number of infections continues to rise across the globe regardless whether it is African or the Americas. I have particularly heard that some States in the US are reclosing schools and restaurants this week. 

Here in Uganda, things are not any better as presidential campaign violence and police brutality continues to increase. Between 18th and 19th November we have at least recorded 7 deaths and over 45 related injuries during campaigns reported by local media houses. These violent tendencies were spiked by the arrest of the leading opposition candidate called Robert Kyagulanyi during his campaign in the Eastern Region of Uganda. Many youths and supporters of Mr. Robert Kyagulanyi in the downtown areas of Kampala have started rioting and burning tires and other items as they closed roads within the city. We can only hope and pray that these acts of violence stop. One of the people who died from a stray bullet was a woman vending food. It is reported that this lady was carrying food from one building to another and this is when she was hit by a bullet in the head. 

This particularly concerns me because it’s our work that tries to help empower women like these and many others to provide their families with opportunities to better their lives and families. This is why we can only hope that this ends peacefully because life is more important than anything in this world so we ought to protect and preserve life because we live only once.

It is because of the events above that my week was cut short on two particular days because it was impossible to go beyond the city center to visit our Mamas. I only managed to get ahold of the following; Gertrude N, Dorah A, Francoise L, Rovence N, Pulakiseda and Margaret N.

Gertrude saying goodbye to the fridge

I made contact with Gertrude N., because we needed to move the ISEE fridge to Dorah A. Gertrude previously closed her stationery because of two reasons, one being her education and the other is that she had not enough time to get a good business location for her computer and stationery shop. Last year we transferred this same fridge to Gertrude from Jennifer K because she had to close business. Anyways to cut the long story short, I spoke to Gertrude and she gave us back the fridge to give to Dorah as we all know she started her restaurant this past week and she needed one. There was no reason to store the fridge if another Mama could use it.

Dorah with her new fridge

Dorah A. was really excited to receive the fridge although she had to wait for me until about 8pm when I was able to deliver the fridge to her restaurant. Dorah has kicked off well with her business and the growth is evident, and she has even let another young man use some of her space to sell roasted chicken. It really excites me when I see young people helping one another to grow especially in a time such as this where we are trying to fight unemployment and poverty at large. I delivered the fridge and on behalf of ISEE we wished Dorah the best of luck in the many endeavors ahead of her.

Rovence in a rare respite from her restaurant

I gave Rovence an assignment last week about her furniture because I was not happy with what the carpenter had delivered for cash worth. She then called the carpenter and denied him his final pay because the measurements he took were not the one delivered so she used the balance to hire some else to deliver an extra table and two stools which ended up being a good deal for the restaurant. Now her customers have two high tables and proper seats so they can enjoy the food and most importantly Rovence is really happy with the general outlook plus she also painted her wall green. I hope that moving forward this investment continues to improve her business as we close in on the year.

Margaret
Margaret with a young client

Margaret N., continues to do her tailoring during this pandemic era. I was really happy to see her working even with her pain in the lower foot. She still has some pain in her right foot and the medication she is given does not seem to help much. Otherwise, she is well and was really happy to see me because it had been a while since I last saw her. The business is keeping her moving as it is important for her to earn some side income for herself and family.

Francoise
Francoise at her roadside stall

Always one of the most fascinating visits are with Francoise L., who has a challenging and eventful life. Her story has been detailed here before (on the blog) and she is one of the people who personally help me keep going because I have not seen many women like her who fight everyday and still have a hope for a better tomorrow. She has shifted from business to business and still keeps going. These past few months she has been doing roadside food vending, this time by the railway line. The weather has not been good to them because it has slowed business particularly for her as she has no tent for her customers to sit. The rains have fallen in the last few days so they have taken back food home a couple of times. Otherwise she is doing okay and we hope the rains can fall later in the day for the next few weeks so she can pick up a bit.

Pulakiseda just before the riots start

This week I had an assignment to buy a few groceries and of course I had to go get it from one of our very own Pulakiseda. She is doing really well. The challenge was that as soon as she had just handed over the items to me, the riots started in her marketplace. I had to get the quickest means out of that place and she later called me also telling me that she had to run out of the market. I was glad she managed to make it home safely and I have been trying to reach some of our Mamas to see how they are doing.

This week surely has been one of the most challenging weeks this year because it has been filled with a lot of violence. Majority of us were not able to accomplish our goals this week because of these events. The world is struggling with a pandemic already and the least we need is some avoidable craze like electoral related violence as we can decide not to be involved in it.

Please continue to send us positive thoughts as we go through these very tough times as we prepare for our Presidential Elections next year.

Thank you for all the support you give us as an organization and please continue.

Your faithfully,

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society