ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

Updates & News Nov 2022

{ed – We are very happy to announce that the Niteo shipping container carrying around 1200 kits is making its way — slowly by slowly, as they say in Uganda — across the ocean towards Uganda. We don’t know when it will arrive but we’ll keep you posted.

We are also at the time of year where we are preparing to make Christmas Hampers. The rising prices of market goods, fuel, and petrol means that these will be more expensive than ever before, so if you were considering making a donation, please know that now is a GREAT time to do so! You can simply click on the big yellow “donate” button to the right of this text block to use our safe PayPal-based donation system. Of course we are also happy to accept etransfers or cheques — all of our details are on this page. Thanks so much for all you do, and happy reading!}

November 22

The atmosphere here continues to unfold as expected and schools have continued as the closure date fast approaches. The issue of Ebola continues to threaten our communities and sadly Covid too still exists. I heard of a gentleman who dropped dead last week and when they did a postmortem, they found out that he had been killed by blood clots which lately have been closely related to Covid 19 in Uganda.

The rains have continued to bless us here whereas the sun too has been abundant. The only sad part is that many people have lost their lives in motor accidents this past week with 54 fatalities. We usually record many accidents during the festive season but this time round looks like things began too early.

Amina

My week with our Mamas went well and I will start with Amina A who incidentally sold her business because she needed to make timely payments for her children to be able to sit for their final exams. As a result, she closed her business and withdrew all the money to pay for her kids. I have made it a point to ensure that she is back in business so I will follow up next week.

Hadijah

Hadijah N is doing well. I visited her too early this time and she was still at home peeling her Irish potatoes for the evening session. She usually buys her Irish and starts to prepare them at home before she can carry them to the roadside stall. She said she likes to start at home because she can sit and peel without pressure but also under the shade. They are not allowed to bring tents because usually, the authorities confiscate them. Otherwise, she is okay and her foot has continued to heal progressively.

Annet with Gomeshi dresses

Annet C from the Mukono area is doing well for herself too. She has built a very strong and successful salon and decoration business. She has also added gowns, wedding dresses and suits for hire which is another step of growth in her business. She also continues to train students who are usually young ladies in her salon and currently works with one on a more permanent basis. She has grown to a level where we don’t need to check on her weekly so you will hear about her much less in the coming months because she has almost attained all our objectives of sustainability and empowerment of women-owned businesses. Thank you to every single one of you who has contributed to the journeys of these amazing women.

Maria and pigs

Maria A decided to sell her two pigs that recently gave birth because they were looking very fickle and she didn’t want to put them to another gruesome time of pregnancy. They had started looking weak so she decided to sell them off and focus on the young ones. Unfortunately, she lost six of them to a very bad sickness that she tried to treat but all in vain. It was by the mercy of a fellow farmer who visited her at such an opportune time and referred her to using a particular tablet that within 24 hours the rest started to respond. Otherwise, she is well and all her sons have returned home from school due to the directive from the government.

Christine and pig

Christine N is also doing okay. She has decided to discontinue her poultry in the meantime as she figures out her business. She will continue to do her piggery as she already has two pigs that are expecting very soon. She has three more little ones that have fallen off the pace a bit and Maria says it might be because she is not feeding them well at the moment. I advised her to pay more attention to this project now that it is the only one she is looking at in the meantime.

Hamida in her coop

Hamida N our other poultry farmer is pushing her efforts to ensure that she gets back to the business. We have been trying to work out a comeback right before Christmas as we wanted to make our first sales during this time. She has finished her poultry house, fixed the window, connected the electricity and bought the wood shavings she needs for the flooring of the poultry house. She is looking at starting with about 150 chickens so we see how it goes.

Jane’s former house

And on a sad note, Jane’s property was destroyed by the rains last week and has been forced to move even before the new house is finished. The developers decided to pour more dirt around the house and they blocked water trenches so the water found its way into her house destroying almost all her furniture, beds and most of her clothes. She had to stay a bit longer because she had a garden and she is trying to remove whatever can be removed including sugarcanes, and yams which I found her peeling to eat for dinner. She can’t leave because then scrap thieves can easily come and remove all her doors and windows. 

Jane trying to salvage yams from her flooded home

Finally, I spoke to Margaret and she is back in town. I will go see her during the week. I also tried to reach Anna M but she was unavailable. I am trying to see how we can reactivate her business life. All women like her need to get economic empowerment as she is a single mother trying to raise 4 kids all by herself. 

It is always a great pleasure to write to you every single week, to keep you up to speed with the different projects on board. Thank you for your relentless contribution, there is nothing small when it comes to the work that we do. 

Mwebale nnyo “Thank you very much”

Yours,

Andrew Echel

Director of Projects, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society

Two Weeks of Updates

Sorry to our readers – we missed a week of posting the report! Here are the reports for the past 2 weeks.

The train causing the demolition of homes in Namuwongo.

November 7th: Greetings to you all,

Happy November to you all,

If you are reading this, it means you have officially made it to the second last round of the year. I know we have all had some good and trying times, but I am glad we have made it and are here now. It is only safe to say congratulations to you.

Things here have not changed much over the last few weeks but rumours of a lockdown have been played down and the authorities have asked people to remain vigilant for both Covid and the Ebola virus. The good thing has been that whereas these two deadly viruses are different, we can fight them using the same methods.

The weather has continued to bless us with both rain and sunshine. I have walked around and I see lots of gardens doing well. This gives us a promise of a better year next year in terms of food security. 

This week has not been bad for ISEE Solutions and our Mamas too;

I will start with my follow-up visit with Francoise L who was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. It was found that she had multiple infections and malaria. I went to her house after she had received treatment and she was still bedridden although she seemed better than she was a few days ago. They could not retain her in the hospital because the bill would be much bigger than what they could afford. She was given multiple medications to go and take from home but of course was not able to get all of them. She had high blood pressure but they couldn’t afford the medication so we managed to get her the medication and advised her not to miss out. Otherwise, everything is okay now. She has her medicine and her daughter is going to run the business in the meantime. She found an umbrella that we have refurbished by now so it can stand the rains while they work by the roadside.

It was a good sight to see Asia back in the market making juice and cooking tea, and porridge. A few times I went to the market last week, I found the shop locked but I was able to get a hold of her this time. It looks like she has come back fully, she has finally sorted out her power issues and she is back making banana juice. She squeezes very ripe bananas using a special type of grass. The bananas are a special type too which can produce the juice. She then packs it in small 500ml water bottles, puts it in the fridge and sells it chilled. I am really glad that this particular Mama is back in business because she has such a huge family to sustain.

Florence A is also doing great. Both her chips and salon business have started picking up. I guess the hair has started picking up because we are closing into the festive season. The other thing is that by this time in the school year the customers would have paid their school dues ready for exams. This allows parents to now spend on self-care too. She is happy and the business is looking good. She still has her expansion plan and restocking plan because the busy days are nearing very fast.

Rovence N is also doing okay. The business has also seemingly picked up. She used to have a power problem and it got disconnected but on my last visit, she offered me a cold soda from the fridge which I thought was nice. The challenge is keeping the power running at this point is a bit expensive but she wants to try it out until it gets regulated.

Irene is doing okay with her salon even though the struggle is still there. She even requested assistance to help her son’s transport who had gone to sit for his final exams in another school. It was time for them to return because the exams were done. She said he (Brian) was happy about how the exams had turned out so we await the results next year. Her other son Byron who is in Primary 7 also going to sit for his finals the coming week. 

Justine is doing okay. Her stall is still a makeshift situation because of the rain but everything else seems okay. Her toilet construction is still on hold though because of the unstable ground. Anyways like it has been the last couple of visits, she was making porridge for her grandchildren who were about to return from school. She lives mostly with her grandchildren as most of her real kids have moved out of the home. The business is doing well even though the rain has been disturbing them over the past few weeks. 

I also took time to go see and shop from Pulakiseda’s N shop but it was unfortunate that she was not there during my visit. I met one of her sons who was attending the shop. I bought my usual rice, sugar, cooking oil, salt, tea leaves and some other little things. It turns out that Pulakiseda had lost an uncle that she had gone to bury in the village. Otherwise, she is okay and everything is well.

I followed up with Rehema N and she is doing better, even though nothing has changed much. She is still weak and mentioned it to me a few times during our conversation. Otherwise, she seemed happy as we spoke trying to figure out what best serves her needs at the moment. She wants to run a fresh produce business like matooke and Irish potatoes but we feel it might not serve her well because it requires extra hands here and there. She is not yet at full capacity physically so this is the biggest concern at the moment. Otherwise, we shall continue to observe and monitor her progress before the decision is made. We wish her well on her recovery journey.

Finally, I made my final trip of the week to Sarah N who deals with goats. It is incredible what she has done with herself recently. She sold two of her goats recently and bought two piglets, poles and cement to open up a piggery farm. This is the kind of innovation that we are always pushing the Mamas to explore. Something they can do to supplement their earnings and also bring forth sustainability. I was very excited to see her little farm and I can’t wait to see what she is going to do with them. Meanwhile, I found her digging in her garden earlier and planting beans and some eucalyptus trees so now and then she goes to the garden to weed and maintain the eucalyptus farm.

Via phone, I was able to stay in touch with Jane water tank 2, Anna M whose leg is now much better but not yet ready for work for business at the moment as she is still looking for capital to restart something. Margaret N is not yet back in town because she is still planting and making sure everything is grown before she comes back. 

It was an incredible week, I had some very fruitful conversations with the Mamas and they like to encourage me a lot. Which I find very beautiful because it keeps me motivated and in touch with them. I can never stop to thank you for the transformation that you bring to my community. It is with great joy and pleasure that I work and serve these amazing, strong and devoted women. It surely takes women to build a community. Thank you for the support and encouragement you extend to us all.

November 14th:

Greetings to you all,

I hope that you are all well. It was a wonderful week full of life, sun, and rain.

Schools will break off sooner than anticipated because of this unfolding epidemic in our country called “Ebola”. More school-going students have been discovered to have been infected by Ebola and due to the massive numbers of children in school, the best thing the government could do is to ask schools to close sooner than later. The government has set the date of 25th November 2022 for the complete closure of all schools until next year. We can only hope and keep our fingers crossed that this doesn’t become worse than it is right now. Our world has suffered enough with the Covid 19 and the last thing we need is another epidemic hitting this country. There is a lot of poverty, sickness and suffering going on in this country so we need a break to recover.

This past week, I was able to visit a few Mamas and the following is what transpired during my visit time;

I will begin with Francoise L who I have been following up with most recently because of her illness and I am trying to track her recovery to ensure she is back on her feet. She is doing better than last week as I met her lying in bed barely able to sit by herself. This week, I met her sitting outside but unfortunately, she had lost a neighbour. The mood was a bit sombre of course so my conversation with her was a bit precise. I found out that she needed more medication for her high blood pressure so we had to figure that out.

I also met Salume S the teaching Mama and she was well. She was seated with some of her students in class as they waited for their parents to pick them up. Her tutoring gig with students mostly Indian students has been good as she is trying to help them with the English language. Otherwise, this has helped her pay for all the school fees of her three children and she seems very happy with her life. We spoke lightly about her past domestic violence issues and she seemed to have moved on quite smoothly but only feels bad that the man has somewhat denied them fatherhood. She said fatherhood is important for children but there is nothing she can do at the moment but only hopes that the kids will grow to appreciate the situation rather than blame her.

Jane N who is the grandmother to Francis is doing okay. Of course, the rain has affected her water-selling service but she has kept up. The tank is always full so she is not selling much. She is still doing the paper bags business which has been so slow recently because lots of her customers have been sent off the streets. Otherwise, she is doing okay, she returned safely from the village.

Rashida S is doing well. She has paid school fees for all her three girls and is only remaining with a balance of about 20,000/- which she says she was paying this coming week because exams are near. The business looks really good, she is dedicated to her vegetable stall and will do anything to remain in business. She goes to the main market twice a week to keep her stall stocked.

Aidah K is also doing well. I found her making her day’s fire to start cooking. She often starts the day by buying Irish potatoes and peeling them to prepare for the day. She then cuts them into smaller chip sizes and puts them in a bucket of water to keep them fresh. When the time comes, she starts by breaking firewood usually from timber and wood from construction sites. She goes to these sites and purchases unusable wood which she turns into firewood for her chips. She uses a panga “machete” to split the wood but also uses her knee which I strongly warned her against because she could easily damage her knee.

Dorah A’s rabbits are doing incredibly well as they have grown to know each other and they fight no more. After suffering trauma from guard dogs, Dorah’s rabbits seemed to reach negatively to the new rabbits she got about a month ago. They fought against each other to the point where they had to separate the two sets into two houses. Dorah built a cage around the two sets of rabbits and also tried to reinforce the animal house. Living now peacefully, Dorah thinks one or two of the rabbits are pregnant and in a few weeks she might have another set of new rabbits on her farm. Fingers crossed for her.

One of the reasons I was in the Namuwongo area was a result of a call I received from Harriet L the tailor who has her shop just above the railway tracks in this area. I have been writing about evictions by the railway authorities for months now and looks like it is starting to materialize. The authorities have started breaking down several structures across the railway reserve which is about 30 meters on each side. They also warned people to start removing all structures within 15 meters of the railway tracks so when I arrived at the railway, I found several people tearing down their structures. Harriet had already packed up lots of her stuff and had taken some home. 

I proceeded to see people like Lorna K who live and work so close to the railway tracks. It looks like her restaurant is just outside the 15 meters mark so it might work out for her. The removal of these temporary stalls in front of her shop will kind of create scarcity and reduce competition for her businesses. Many small businesses almost doing the same business had been cropping up over the last three months and this was affecting her business as they provided competition for small businesses. The demolition is not good because some families and homes had been depending on these ventures but some rules are hard to contend with because, in any form of transportation, safety is paramount. These trains will be transporting goods and fuels which could be dangerous to the communities in case of failures by the train.

Lilly A is pretty safe as she is situated right in the market center. The market is a well-established structure and may not or will not be affected at all. She also moved from her previous home which was about 10 meters from the tracks. This is another Mama not to worry about at all. Her business is doing okay at the moment as we close in the festive season when she gets lots of tailoring orders as it has been the tradition in most families to either buy new clothes or have clothes tailored for Christmas. This includes me as a child when my dad would have us wear tailored little suits for Christmas day church service.

I will be looking out for all the Mamas within this area for the next few weeks including Irene, Francoise, and Rashida all of who live close to or around the railway lines. I will be looking for their next steps and I will keep you all posted hopefully we can keep these Mamas functional through the next weeks, months or even years. We have built a very strong community of women of great courage and enterprise in their small ways. Let us keep them in our positive thoughts and hope that we can support them more in this struggle of life. Thank you to all of you who have greatly invested in this community, we wouldn’t have done much without you. Keep the word going out there as we support the Mama Nguvu community. 

Mwebale nnyo “Thank you very much”

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society