For those of you who have seen the movie Queen of Katwe you will have a picture of where we went today to visit the women that ISEE solutions supports through the Mama Nguvu project in the slum of Namuwongo. This slum has a population of 20,000 people along an abandoned railway track.
Women apply to get assistance to start a business that will enable them to make money to support their family and pay for school fees and uniforms .
Lorna was our first mama who applied to have a knitting machine , she says she has lived in this area for 23 years and that it used to be all trees at that time but today it is an area with small houses and huts crammed together with narrow winding paths . Lorna was a gracious hostess as we crammed into her small home . She showed us a beautiful multicolored sweater that she had made for herself in one day . She does well as she has been making school sweaters for some of the schools in the area .
From there we moved down the slippery muddy trails after the downpour yesterday to see Harriet a lovely young woman with a little child who took a tailoring course and received a sewing machine from ISEE some time ago. She has been sewing for various women in the surrounding area but it is not too busy right now so she is trying some other things . She had a hen and baby chicks just outside the door that she got from her village .
Francoise was down the way and has a beer store . She brews the beer and received a refrigerator from ISEE to keep it and soda cold .Francoise is from the Congo from where she fled after her husband was killed in the war .She pays for 5 children to go to school some of whom are her sisters children .
On to check in with Ida who has a chip place , her chips are famous so people come from all over to buy from her . She goes through 100 kilos of potatoes a week and has to bring them home on the back of a Boda Boda (a motorcycle taxi)
The last stop was to check in with Florence , a hairdresser who specializes in hair extensions , she is a single Mom with 2 children . Florence says it has not been as busy lately.
It is amazing for us to witness how life for these people is tough but they are cheerful and proud of their very humble circumstances . Harriet summed it up so well when she said “we are chasing life .“
From this very sobering experience we reached the van and drove over to the Java Café for lunch walking completely into a different world of running water and flush toilets , milkshakes and a vast menu .
The next project was to go to the fabric market , now , when we think fabric , about the only place left is Fabricland in Kelowna . This place in Kampala is fabric overload and then some !! This is a street full of shops about 12 ft wide with fabric bolts in a riot of colors stacked to the ceiling . It is so high that they have staff on each side who walk across the bolts to reach down the ones you would like to have a closer look at. Everyone was trying to choose one or two pieces to have made into a jacket or dress but with so much to absorb our senses were assaulted by the colors and variety . Thank goodness we had Betty, a very lovely, young , brilliant seamstress many of us have known for about 8 or 9 years to offer us advice .
It has been an eventful day with many new things to digest and reflect on. This is what Uganda does to most people who have a chance to come and see and get to know the people who call Uganda home .