Greetings to you all,
I hope this finds you well and as always ensuring that we all stay safe and continue protecting ourselves and families too.
I will start with the good news from the latest Presidential address that happened on 21st July 2020. In his address, he finally decided to open all shopping arcades as soon as supervision of the set compliance measure or standard operating procedures that were set by the Ministry of Health have been done. The best part of this is the fact the declared salons will open immediately. This means Mamas like Anna, Irene, Annet, Immaculate and Florence can reopen their salons as soon as possible. These Mamas can now start to earn their living once again after so many months of not being able to operate at all. We will start looking into how to support them since most of them have exhausted their resources during the lockdown. This new lifting is a good sign that Uganda might return back to the “Good Old Days” sooner than we thought. Everyone anticipated that this whole year might end in lockdown but it seems that things might change sooner than later.
We can only hope that this new lifting on the lockdown will not jeopardize our security in terms of health, and that it will not bring about a mass spread of the Covid 19. Otherwise for a country such as Uganda where our health services are not as good, it will be such a disaster.
Our work has continued and below are some of the outcomes of the conversations and physical visits I was able to make during the week.
Annet N has been improving since May 2020. Her restaurant business has been picking up slowly. She has been operating a roadside tea and porridge stall. Annet had opened another evening stall in town but it flopped due to the lockdown. She was later able to pick up the business items from the shared rental space she had gotten in town. This was significant because these are the items that ISEE helped her acquire in 2019, so it was important that she had the items at her disposal. Annet was also able to make a payment worth 50,000/- which is a requirement from ISEE as a way of encouraging the Mamas to give back to fellow Mamas. This money is deposited in the bank and awaits redistribution when the time is right.
Poultry farmer Christine N is doing well. I was able to visit her physically and had the opportunity to look at the chicks and chickens in her poultry house. She is currently remaining with 207 chicks from the 225 she hatched about a month ago. She has sold some to a few people including one of our own Mama Nguvu partner Maria A who bought about 45 chicks. The deal is that when the chicks are hatched, Christine will take care of them at least for one month before the owners can pick them up from her. The rest of the chickens are doing well. She has been able to collect 11 trays of eggs every week. She then sells each tray at 23,000/- which she later uses to buy chicken feeds. She at times will save up to 100,000/- a week from selling eggs. Christine this week bought 8 poles which she plans to use in the construction of a pig sty. We booked 2 piglets from one of the farmers around and the farmer wants us to pick the piglets so she has to build the house soon.
Christine’s visit will end with a visit to Maria A. These two Mamas live very close to one another, so visiting one means a visit to the other. Maria’s pigs are looking good. She has one pregnant pig so that’s good news. She has another 2 piggies that she has taken to try and get them pregnant too. Maria desires to expand her piggery and build more rooms in the near future to accommodate the piglets that will be born from the expecting pigs. She will later receive the chicks from Christine and put them in one of the rooms behind her house. Maria wants to become a full time animal and chicken farmer as a way of making money. She has stopped deep frying snacks because the heat was starting to affect her so she opted to do this because it was much easier and she loves her animals too.
Despite the fact that all salon operators were allowed to open shops again, it’s unfortunate that some people are not able to operate. Our own Anna M has not been able to start because she had lost her salon just before the lockdown was started. I have been discussing with her about the different things she could do alongside her salon. It seems like she actually loves the salon business even when it has not been working out for her. She has opened it twice but things have not gone well, primarily due to poor location. Maybe this time around things will work out well if she gets a better location. She also wants to start a small Mobile Money business but it requires a bit of capital so she has been looking around and waiting for someone she says had promised her some money. All this has not been able to work out so she is still stuck but we will continue to follow up on her to see how best we can serve her.
Pulakiseeda N is doing great. Her shop is slowly picking up so this is a good sign for us, maybe because the president has allowed more people to work. I was also able to pick up a few items for myself from her shop like some rice, cooking oil and sugar. I have resolved to buy some of these food items for myself from our Mamas as another way of supporting our Mama’s businesses.
I visited Hadijja N and she is well. She is back to her chips stall again. I made an appointment to see her and we were able to meet at her roadside stall. Hadijja was at her stall with her baby girl but also working. I don’t know how she does it but she does it anyway. Hadijja has said that she will focus here for now until things are back to “almost” normal, when she can open her bar again. Her baby girl will have grown bigger.
I spoke to Gertrude N this week, she was doing a small tutorial on web designing. She said “I would like to add this to my business when I reopen”. She had contacted her teacher at school and arranged a private class to help her with a segment she was having difficulties trying to understand. On the other hand her water and ice business is not doing well because “people are not yet used to the place” so maybe that’s why the performance is slow.
After the long search, I was also able to find Amina at her house. Apparently her phone broke about 3 weeks ago and no wonder all my efforts of trying to call her were all in vain. She is not doing well at all. She has been sick for about two weeks. She told me that she has been finding it difficult to even find food to eat because she has no business at all. We managed to speak about a business prospect to help her deal with some of her bills. She said that she could make some snacks and sell them. Amina previously would make small mandazi, pack them and sell at the local shops. She thinks whereas it brings small returns, this is a way she will be able to build her business.
Fortunately Margaret N is feeling much better after seeing the doctor and getting some medication. Last week we were able to send her some money to support her medication and medical visit to the doctor. She now only gets pain on the tips of her foot and the rest of her leg is feeling better. We are glad. According to our conversation, she is going to use a motor for her sewing because she doesn’t want to hurt her feet again. We also spoke about using a better seat while she sews. This could have been one of the causes of her nerve damage.
I closed this week with one more visit where I saw Francoise, Aida and Irene. Francoise is doing better, the food business was really good for her regardless of the amount of work that it involves. In the two weeks she has cooked she was able to save money worth 120,000/- and was able to reinvest that money into a charcoal business. She bought two bags of charcoal and is reselling it to the community members. Her children are doing well, Angel was able to get placement as a janitor at some company premise. She intends to do this as long as school is closed. She was a student of beauty and cosmetology at one of the schools in Kampala until schools were closed due to the pandemic.
Irene has reopened her salon and is trying to get clients. During lockdown she bought a bag of charcoal and was selling charcoal as a way of trying to survive. The challenge is that her hair dryer broke and she can’t do much without it.
Aida is doing just fine. There is a person who claims to own the premises she operates and he continues to come and visit the site. The fear is that one day, when the deal is done she will find her business gone. I continued to speak to her about the possibility of moving before the demolitions start but there seems not to be an option yet as all efforts to find a place have been futile.
Finally, I was able to get in touch with Headteacher Geoffrey O this week. He has continued to visit more brick making possibly from which he would pick one site to make his bricks. Unfortunately the terms of all the four he visited were not friendly enough to attract him. His biggest concern still remains an open place to dry his bricks and later burn them. The bricks Geoffrey is looking to make require to be dried well and burned so that they become strong enough to be used for building. His possible buyers will only buy properly burned or baked bricks. This is why it is important for Geoffrey to have enough space which most land owners are not offering. He continues his search for a good spot.
We appreciate you all for following our work as we try to make a difference in the lives of our partners. During this time it is vital that our partners get support to help them restart their businesses, there is a lot of work to be done to re-establish the lost businesses. Please continue to follow us and support the work that we are trying to do changing lives one family at a time.