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Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

St. Mary’s and 2014 Mama Nguvu Participants

I have to say that I much prefer small group presentations to the ones with over 50 girls like what we had yesterday. The small intimate group on Amy’s porch was lovely.

Today, we had 28 girls from St Mary’s Secondary School in Kabalagala.

The school was started by Joseph, an engineer who returned to school to be a teacher. St Mary’s was founded in 2012 and now has 98 students. 20 students will sit their S6 government exams this year and Joseph feels there will be some students who will achieve top marks.

He has worked to establish a school that is known for Science and the Arts. They also offer French and computers. There is a lab with some equipment and they have cages of rats that they breed for dissection and that they sell to other schools.

Joseph was very positive and enthusiastic about teaching and life in general. Two of his quotes that I loved were: “Here, we preach the gospel of the wisdom of the mind.” and “When your hand is short, do not cry for what you cannot reach. Instead, reach what you can.”

Our presentation started 1.5 hours late so it was done in fast forward mode but the girls were great, listened well, and asked some few questions. Again, the kits were a huge hit and they thanked the jajas (grandmothers) who love them in Canada and who make the kits for them. I always say that the jajas make the kits because then they really feel special as grandmothers are well respected as elders in Uganda.


Our afternoon was spent visiting the Mama Nguvu participants who were sponsored last year. We have unfortunately lost one candidate who has moved and not kept in contact. Adrine’s popcorn location was banned shortly after we left and her machine was damaged when it was forcibly moved. She separated from her husband and was left trying to survive with her youngest babies at home alone. She worked for a while as maid and made 5,000 per day with 2,000 being used for transport. At the current rate of exchange, 5,000 is $1.80. She kept in random contact with Andrew but has now disappeared. Francoise thinks she has returned to the village where her family lives. I hope that she is able to survive there. Maybe her popcorn machine travelled with her and will be repaired so that she can make a living in her new home.

Here are updates on our amazing 2014 Mama Nguvu women.


Rovence – catering

–          Caters each Saturday for a small group at the hospital and every two months she caters for over 200 people at the hospital

–          Employs 2 women daily and 6-7 women when she has her big catering jobs

–          Pays her rent and school fees and is saving to buy a piece of land

–          Has bought 3 flasks, another food warmer, 24 cups and plates, bowls and serving bowls

–          Rents out her dishes when she is not using them for a big catering job

When we were there, she was cooking for a TB meeting in a tent just down the street. She says that she has a reputation for being very hygienic and her food is famous in the community. “Tofayo!” she says. “I’m good!”


Grace – fried snacks

–          Has moved to a small shop that she shared with another woman but she has taken over the business completely

–          The supplying of power has changed so her deep fryer is too expensive to use at the moment so she has to fry using the charcoal stove which has reduced her production – she can only supply the community and not the shops like she was doing before

–          All children are in school and she covers the food and supplies while her husband pays the fees

–          Her fridge is at home so that she can make and sell juice before the children go to school

–          Hopes to get a strong table and two good chairs to be able to set up a computer corner in her shop as her sister has given her a laptop and her husband has a desktop and printer she can have

“Without the help I have received, I would be stuck at home.” She also encouraged us to investigate the S7 Project that offers vocational training to needy women. This is an American organization but they are in desperate need of funding.


Irene – hairdresser

–          Slow season now and she can go for a week without a customer

–          Has started selling soda, beer and fried maize from her salon to help make money when there are no customers

–          November to January are the busiest and sometimes she has to hire other women to help her

–          Her dryer was damaged when a new stand was built for it so she hopes to buy a new dryer

–          Hand dryer and basin are excellent

–          All her children are in school

–          Is involved in a women’s cooperative where she buys a sack of sugar and a bar of washing soap each week and gives it to the cooperative. Each week, one woman receives all 15 bars of soap and 15 sacks of sugar.

“I get 15 – 20,000 for plaiting hair, depending on the size of the plaits. It will take from 8 up to 2 to plait one woman’s hair.” So in 6 hours, she will earn between $5.50 and $7.25.


Lorna – knitting machine

–          Had an order of 250 sweaters for a school in December but shared the order with a friend and has now received another order of 250 from the same school

–          Makes three small sweaters or two big sweaters per day (just the pieces)

–          Receives individual orders for sweaters and she charges about 35,000 for one. One man ordered a sweater in December and she made it without him paying her. Now she demands payment first before making the sweater

–          Used her profits to buy a calf in the village which cost 470,000

–          Her children are in school

–          Would like a sewing machine to put the pieces together as someone who is not familiar with sewing knitted fabric will pull and stretch the fabric when they sew it together. Hand sewing the pieces together is slowing her down in production.

“In 2008, I was very ill and could not get up. I was tested and am HIV positive but my children were tested and they are negative. Now I take my medicines and I am healthy.”


Martha – fish monger

–          Has been very sick with fever and malaria the past two weeks but is starting to feel better

–          Finds that the fish are harder to get now, especially the smaller ones that she likes to sell (Victoria Lake is being overfished)

–          Her children are in the village and are attending school


Jennifer – hotel (restaurant)

–          Her restaurant was destroyed by a drunk driver and her plates and cups were broken

–          She received compensation but the owner of the stall demanded all the money as it was his building that was destroyed

–          Her tables and chairs are at home because her current place is too small

–          Despite these challenges, she has managed to buy a fridge for 600,000 and also a plot of land for 2 million from her profits

–          Wants to farm the land so that she can use the produce in her restaurant

–          All her children are in school

–          The local government is threatening to tear down the shops in the strip (including Rashida’s) so she has to find a new place to set up but wants to stay in the same street because her customers know her there

–          Has a place in mind but it is 250,000 per month rent (about $100)

“My children are burungi. No-one is sick.” Burungi means beautiful or well.


Rashida – small shop and chai

–          The business is sustaining her family and the children are all healthy

–          Chai gives the best business

–          During Ramadan there are fewer customers as they are fasting and then they eat at the mosque

–          All children are in school although there is still 40,000 owing for second term fees for the daughter

–          Has a piece of land she inherited as the first born and started to farm but fell ill for a while so stopped farming

–          She has to shift space like Jennifer and has found a small space attached to a shop up the street but she cannot get a commitment from the landlord to rent it

–          Feels the forced move may be delayed as it is election time (in February 2016) so the officials are trying to make the people happy to guarantee their votes

“I have no complaints. The business is providing for my needs. There is nothing more that I want except to shift to a place where they will not chase me (send her away).”

A visit with Prossy will happen next week and Margaret is at the school so I will speak with her when I am there. All the women said thank you over and over again to their sponsors. They appreciate so much what you have done for them. ISEE appreciates you too!

Happy Friday.

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