Greetings to you all,
It is my hope that you are well and continuing to stay safe, keeping social distance as required by all Health Ministries and authorities around the world. Like it has been said before the virus doesn’t spread itself, but rather us humans are the ones spreading it. It is therefore important that we continue to reassert the importance of staying safe, sanitizing and keeping social distancing to cub the pandemic.
It is unfortunate that between 21st July and 31st July 2020, 2 victims have died in Uganda as a result of Covid 19. There had been rumours about a few people dying of Covid 19 much earlier than this but the Ministry of Health came out to deny this, saying it was “fake news”.
An article in the New Vision, one of the English-language newspapers in Uganda, this week said that the Minister of Health stopped Rubaga Hospital (Kampala) from treating people who had “symptoms similar to Covid 19”, because the government had only designated one location, in Entebbe, to diagnose and treat the disease and thus it was illegal and they didn’t have the clearance to do that. The current statistics show that the number of infections stands at 1,147 confirmed cases and with the numbers continuing to grow every day, we hope that the deaths don’t increase.
This week we were able to complete setting up Geoffrey O with his brick making enterprise. He finally got the piece of land he was looking for, a piece that was not only large enough for making his bricks but also one that offered a place to dry the bricks and also have space to burn the clay bricks. Geoffrey O is incredibly excited about his project and everything has been going on well. He keeps updating us about the progress of his work and if you have time please visit our website and read the blog Corey our VP wrote about Geoffrey and his project. I have been working with him closely to establish his project and buy all the items required for him to succeed.
This week we bought him 3 hoes, 2 pick axes, 1 panga or machete, 5 jerrycans, 2 wheelbarrows and food supplies to help his team of 10 youths he is skilling through the project. We have also arranged for an exclusive interview and Geoffrey to introduce him to you in his own words. This interview is scheduled to take place on the 5th August 2020 and the interview will be available for you to read it soon.
We were able to set up two of our Mamas from 2014 and 2015 with one hair dryer each. It was through my regular weekly visits during and before the pandemic outbreak that we realized that the dryers we helped them acquire had been broken.
Irene L from 2014 had been operating her salon remotely without a hair dryer for about 2-3yrs. She had been struggling with her business falling on and off the grid over the course of the years due to difficulties in balancing her family demands and the business at the time.
Irene was in debt most of the time from loan sharks in the market that she has been located. She later relocated some of her kids to the village because the village schools were not as expensive. She managed to reduce her debt with time and on the side of the salon starting up a charcoal selling stall. Irene was very excited early this week when I called her to tell her the wonderful news of her getting a brand new hair dryer. She was so happy that when I told her to be in town at 10am on Friday 31st July 2020, she was in town at 9:30am. Unfortunately she had to wait a little longer because I wasn’t able to access money from the bank agent because it was Eid day, rather I had to go and use an ATM machine to withdraw money from the ISEE Solutions account here. This enabled us to get the two dryers without fail.
Florence A is the Mama from 2015 who also got herself a brand new hair dryer. She is one of the youngest Mamas in the program and has two children, but also had been taking care of her younger sister too. She operates a small salon in the slums of Namuwongo, and has relocated about three times within the same area for the last 5yrs. She is a hard worker and the last blow to her business was the pandemic break that affected her business like all Mamas who owned businesses (salons) like Florence. It was a great opportunity for her too to get this hair dryer.
These dryers provide a great opportunity to salons like hers in trying to get customers. They are expensive to acquire, so most of the salon operators will not have these dryers. This acquisition empowers ladies like Irene and Florence giving them a competitive advantage over the many competitors around the area. This is why when I started this blog, I had to thank our supporters because your contributions change the lives and families of many people in Uganda.
I also had the opportunity to meet the following people during the week.
Rovence N is one of our oldest partners who have been with us since 2014. Rovence operates a small restaurant in a place called Kisugu and like many people, she has also been affected by the pandemic. She was telling me that most of her customers were eating on debt so this affected her capital levels. She felt that after all she had cooked the food, it was easier to give it on credit rather than take it back home. The food would get spoilt since most of our homes here might not have fridges to store the food. The unfortunate part is that most of her debtors have not found it easy to get their jobs back and help pay their debts despite the willingness to want to pay, they just can’t afford it. This has been the greatest challenge to Rovence’s restaurant business.
Rovence had another challenge about three months ago with her right hand thumb. I think she got an infection that caused the swelling on the right thumb. She has never seen a doctor since then but I requested her to do so, instead of buying only painkillers which have even stopped working. As a result of this she has requested the help of a young lady who has been helping her with the preparations. We will support her and I will continue to monitor her in the hope that she picks up.
Our extraordinary poultry farmer Christine N has also made wonderful progress in building her poultry and pig sty. We have boosted Christine’s venture to build a flat that will house pigs on the ground floor and also have chickens on the 1st floor. She had wanted for a while to build such a house but unfortunately didn’t have the financial capacity to build such an establishment.
She requested us to support her with a boost that would help Christine build this wonderful structure. With the help of our trusted builder, we visited Christine and drew a budget that totaled 1,200,000/- Uganda Shillings. This amount was a bit too high for her so we requested that she makes a contribution towards this project. Christine pledged to provide 300,000/- Uganda Shillings towards this endeavour. The project is scheduled to start on Wednesday 5th August 2020. Together with the builder, I will make way to a place called Kyengera to establish this fortress of agricultural ingenuity.
I also took the opportunity to visit Betty N who started a tailoring business and training school. She has not had much success with the training school because the government hasn’t opened schools and other tertiary institutions. This means that Betty can only sew privately and not involve any of her students.
She currently sews with a former student of hers who mostly sews masks for local sellers. She has also improved her training room by changing the class to a wider room to ensure social distancing, in case the schools reopen she will be in place to operate under the given guidance of social distancing.
My next project is to help Amina A another Mama who has had so many misfortunes during her time since we first met her in 2017, through our partners of HEYFU. She had several fights with her ex husband and his family about the plot she lives on. The husband and his relatives wanted to snatch this property away from her, yet she was using it to house herself and her children. It is due to these challenges that even ended up in things like witchcraft that affected the operations of Mama Amina. It is unfortunate that throughout that time until today she has failed to re-establish her business and support her family. She lamented that many times through this year, they have gone many nights without meals. It’s her desire to start a small snack business from which she will rebuild her business and maybe go back to her restaurant. I have decided that this week I will visit Amina, request for her to get me a budget on what she requires to start. We had thought that we would provide her a small amount 50,000/- but my reassessment of the situation requires at least 100,000/-. We will then provide items worth this much and we go on from there and help her grow. Small businesses like these require a lot of time and supervision. This business will help Amina provide basic services for her family.
I would like to continue to thank you again for all the wonderful work you do to support Mamas in Uganda. This week we were able to transform the lives of Geoffrey O, Florence A, Irene L and also Christine N whose project starts next week. It’s a great pleasure to work with these wonderful people and experience in person the transforming journey that continues to impact my life too.
Over the last few weeks I have been also engaged in personal projects growing vegetables. I dug a small garden in front of the house I live in, to grow some vegetables to help cut down on my costs of survival. I went to a local greenhouse facility close to my home and bought kale, green and purple cabbage, green onions and lettuce. During this process I have learned the level of difficulty in growing vegetables but I must say I have been loving it. One other challenging thing has been with the birds that keep eating my strawberries so I have decided to go get a net to keep them away. For weeks I would wake up and find my strawberries missing chunks until I caught one of the birds feasting on them one morning. Otherwise I have loved the experience and I will continue to garden as much as I can because it has been fun.
Regards to you all,
ISEE Solutions Uganda Rep.