Dear stakeholders, patrons, donors, and friends of ISEE:
First, please let me thank you so much for all you’ve done to help us do our work. As I say all the time, we could not do our work without the generous time and financial donations from people like you. I am constantly amazed at the kindness and sacrifice of people. In this time of social disturbance and upheaval, it is refreshing to see so many people who are selfless and kind. Thank you so much.
Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19, of course, and, like me, I’m sure you’ve all received far too many emails from every retailer to whom you’ve ever begrudgingly provided your email address, not to mention the various online retailers, airlines, grocery stores and coffee shops who somehow avoid your spam filters.
All of these emails tell you in excruciating details exactly what their plans are for dealing with The New Reality whilst first re-telling you exactly the information you’ve already received, and received better, from your local health authority. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t really need to know my cat litter manufacturer’s advice on social distancing and mask use.
This blog post is hopefully nothing like that, but I did want to take the time to let you know how COVID is impacting us as an organization and how we will be changing focus due to it.
Fundamentally we are an overseas organization, of course, and in this time we cannot travel to Uganda. This doesn’t mean that we are ceasing operations but it does mean that we have to address the reality of our situation. We have every intention of using all the money and items you have generously donated in the exact way that you anticipated us using them, but the current situation demand that we pivot at least a bit. No point in watering the flowers when it’s already raining, as my mom used to say.
Currently in Uganda schools are not operating and there is no certain time for re-opening. We have very few kits on the ground, no way to distribute those kits, and no one to whom we can distribute. We do have a significant number of kits in storage here, and they will eventually make their way over to Uganda, but not this year.
A related component of the kits is the reproductive health workshops that we present when we distribute them. These are usually attended by 200+ people and obviously this is not something we would (or could) do during a time of social distancing.
We are therefore going to concentrate on the things we CAN do, and this primarily means our Mama Nguvu program.
We are going to focus our efforts on helping our Mamas as they come out of lockdown and slowly try to get their heads above water. This will include consultations with Andrew regarding their needs and issues, financial assistance as practical, and any other support or guidance we can give them.
As always we will look to the Mamas themselves to tell us what they want: now is not the time for us to impose our ideas on their lived existence, no matter how well-intentioned. We fully and completely reassert the rights of our Mama Nguvu candidates to be directors of their own fates, with our duty to be merely one of support and resource when asked to do so.
We will also take this opportunity to find new projects that do not require our on-the-ground presence.
If you have been following Andrew’s updates you will have heard about Geoffrey Omongin and his plan for a brick works. We are happy to say that the work is well under way. Andrew is preparing an interview with Geoffrey; expect to see that here very soon. This is not a Mama Nguvu project but instead falls under our Education mandate as the school will provide training for youth in the community as well as create local jobs.
Thank you so much to Misty, Carmen, Neil, David and Trudy for generously helping in funding this project. We will update this project here as the summer continues.
Finally, and on a more local note, we are temporarily suspending all future sewing bees until further notice due to obvious restrictions on large gatherings. If you are interested in sewing from home, however, we have need of 2000 hygiene bags. These are easy to sew items and we will provide fabric and ribbon — you just supply the work (and the thread). Contact Erika at ISEE Solutions <dot> org for details or to request materials.
Speaking of the hygiene bags: If anyone has 1/4″ crafting (fabric) ribbon that they want to donate, we would be happy to take it off your hands. We need around 1000m of ribbon so we’ll take all we can get!
Thank you again for all you do and for all your support over the years.