Greetings to you all,
Happy New Month! It is amazing that we are in August 2020. Can you imagine that we have come this far already? Time really flies so fast.
I hope that we are keeping well, staying safe and most importantly keeping safe distance. These are surely the best ways of ensuring our actions don’t affect anyone else.
This week was a good one. I got to meet our Mamas who received hair dryers (Irene and Florence).
I was also able to kick start Christine’s poultry and pig sty building project by buying all we need. The task to construct the animal house was a bit tasking given that the builder didn’t show up on Wednesday morning as scheduled.
Christine is ready to start her animal house building project in the coming week after we faced a small challenge when the builder wasn’t able to make it on Wednesday, as we had scheduled. In order for us to redeem time, Christine and I decided to buy some of the construction items like cement, wire mesh and the chain that would be used to lock the animal house. The next day with the presence of the builder we were able to buy the plunks, timber, door hinges and the nails that were needed for him to start the construction the following week.
Otherwise on Monday 3rd August 2020, I successfully made my way to the central business district to see Jennifer N, our shoe selling Mama. I am glad she is well. I met her sitting in her stall selling her second hand shoes.
She said the business was not as good as usual because the local market downtown was closed. Jennifer and fellow shoe sellers usually sell their leftover shoes at this market everyday but it’s impossible now that the government closed these markets. There is surely a big difficulty in keeping social distance in such markets.
These markets usually gather sellers of all kinds from shoes, clothes and even vegetables. This meant that this market would gather people from all corners of Kampala, which generates a great risk of the spread of the Covid 19 virus. The closure of these local markets sadly limits or delays the sales of the remaining shoes hence limiting these bonus sales.
I went down to a district called Mukoko, in a village called Kyetume, to see Annet C, our other salon Mama. She is picking up really well, such that during my visitation at her salon she was actually working on a client. Fortunately she still possesses the hair dryer that we helped her acquire in 2018 and it works fine. Unlike Irene and Florence her need to boost her business was different.
During the past two years, Annet has improved her business greatly by adding such things as decor to her business. The decor business skyrocketed her revenues and helped Annet improve her family’s livelihood in a season when her husband had no employment. Annet was the breadwinner and she supported the family. Like many such businesses, Annet’s thrived on social gatherings such as weddings and introduction ceremonies. They hired her services to support their businesses and so lockdown impacted all their work. Inorder to help revive her business, she has requested that we help boost her business by helping her buy cosmetics to add to the styling and hair dressing. Whereas she has a few products for hair, Annet would like to add skin products to the salon so she can sell to the many customers who have come and asked for them. We were able to make these funds available for Annet and on Monday 10th August 2020, she will meet me in the central district and we will buy these cosmetics she needs.
It is the first week of the month of August, so I went to see Pulakiseda N to buy my monthly groceries. I am a routine shopper, so I bought rice, sugar, salt, peas, cooking oil and other vegetables from the other sellers. She is really doing well lately as more and more people return to the town. Her shop is so organized and the merchandise is displayed well.
This same market is also home to Asia N’s book making and beverage business. During last week’s follow up, Asia had requested for beverage stock and we made available a small amount of money to help her buy sodas, water and some local juices. The response to this addition was good and Asia has bought these same beverages twice in the past two weeks. We have decided that we will make available more funds next week for her to buy more beverages to help her make more money from the sale of the drinks. We like to invest small funds for Mamas to use as a way to test whether the business will be successful, then we invest more as we become certain about the success of the business.
I dropped by to see Cissy N, our other restaurateur in the same area of Kyengera. Like Christine, Cissy has been on a pause. She has not opened shop even once since the first lockdown was initiated in March 2020. We spoke for about 30 minutes about what way forward there was but nothing came through in that conversation. It is always a bit hard for me when I speak to the Mamas with nothing coming out of the conversation. I must say that I try not to put them under pressure which most times causes them into making hasty decisions. I try to encourage the Mamas to think out of the box every now and then, and to explore different opportunities especially during this Covid 19 season. It seemed like there was nothing coming out from Cissy’s side so we have resolved to continuously follow up on her in the coming weeks until we help her find something.
Pig farming has been going well at Maria A’s farm with her two pigs being pregnant at the moment. They are healthy and looking really good. I am profoundly happy that she is taking care of these animals really well. This week Maria received 35 baby chicks from Christine, our poultry farmer. Maria recently stopped making frying snacks that she would supply at one of the local school’s near her home. I am glad she did so because little did we know that schools would end up being closed for the rest of the year. She told me that the fire and heat was not doing her well too given her age. Maria wanted to do something that she could do easily and without a lot of strain. She then booked a few chicks from Christine who incidentally lives about 300 meters away from Maria’s house. She finally has her chicks and has housed them in one of the rooms behind her house. Her plan is to start with a small number and see how it goes. We keep our fingers crossed for her and wish her the best.
My final assignment this week was to meet Geoffrey Omongin, our primary school Headteacher at Alpha and Omega School. Geoffrey’s brick making project has been flourishing, with everything about brick making going well until the boys he was working with were confronted by a stranger who wanted to mislead them. This man actually managed to sway these boys, telling them that Geoffrey was under paying them and that he would end up running away when they finished making and selling the bricks.
This fiasco ended up in Geoffrey losing the majority of the number of boys he was working with. He has worked for at least three days this week with only 4 boys. Anyways he has managed to pull through and worked with the remaining boys and girls to stay on track. Through this project Geoffrey was to identify a group of girls, through which he would train. I am glad during this incident, the girls were not on site.
We also met in person and carried out the scheduled interview and I will be working on the write up for all of you to read.
This week had great success for me and I was pleased with what I was able to accomplish. It is never easy to have all things going for you, challenges will always be there for us to overcome. I am glad we overcame all our challenges this week and managed to succeed with the different projects. Next week I will follow up Amina A, who we made available some funds to start either a fish selling business or a sweet banana business. During my last visit with her, Amina requested that we help her restart a business and when I left she sat down with her family. They selected two options from which they will pick one that they will pursue. I will follow her up next week on Monday to see what they have decided to do.
I can’t finish my report without saying thank you for reading and supporting our work in Uganda. You are the reason why we are still impacting the lives that we are involved with. Thank you and please continue to stay safe, stay sociable and keep supporting us because many families here require all the help we can offer.
ISEE Solutions Society, Uganda Programs.