ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

September 20, 2020 update

{Note: This week ISEE received an incredible surprise. One of our favourite partner organizations, Gifts to Grandmothers, presented us with a tremendously generous donation that their members raised through the sales of fabric face masks. These talented and hard-working ladies have truly touched our hearts. Summertime is often slow for charities that depend on donations, and the additional stress of a global pandemic has also impacted our usual donations. This amazing contribution will go a huge distance in helping us support the women you read about in this blog. We humbly thank Gifts to Grandmothers for their kindness and urge anyone who hasn’t yet done so to go and visit their website for information on how you can support their work. -ed}

N’ngoni! (Inn-go-ny)

This is another greeting from one of the tribes in the West Nile region of Uganda. They are called the Alur people. The greeting simply says, “How are you?” If you ever travel to the West Nile region of Uganda and someone says “N’ngoni!” you simply reply “Mukke” which sounds like “Moo-Kay”.

The Covid 19 cases are still growing with 5,123 cases already in the last 6 months. The recoveries are still looking good with 2,333 people recovering and 59 deaths since the first discovery in March 2020. The concern on prevention is still growing and the government is continuously sensitizing the masses with the campaign “Spread the Message, not the Virus”. This message is, “Wear your mask for me; protect me as I protect you”. I think this campaign advert actually helps people bring into perspective what their role is during this pandemic and also how to prevent the spread of this virus.

The work has continued with a few visits to the Mamas but it was on the low this week as I had two personal errands to run, where one involved taking my mother to the hospital for review. In case you did not catch up on what happened with my mother about three weeks ago, she was knocked by a motorcycle rider that we call “boda boda”. Her knee was not badly damaged but her knee cap shifted. At the review the doctor said that it was looking good and he asked us to buy a knee brace which we actually got her.

Francoise preparing her maize

Visiting Francoise L this past week and talking to her was quite interesting as always, with her juggling businesses which include charcoal selling and food selling. During my visit at her house, she was preparing her ash to mix in the maize seeds. She gets the ash from the previously burnt charcoal and sieves it, then mixes it with water and the maize seeds. The ash helps to remove the hull of the maize kernel. She then washes it out, puts the beans and the maize in the pot then boils it overnight. She then sells it between 7am to about noon-ish usually for security guards and other laborers. On a good day she will sell all the 8-10kgs of the maize and beans mix.

{Note: This process that Francoise undertakes is very similar to the process used in countries like Mexico, where maize is first soaked with alkaline substances like ash or lime and then further cooked for consumption. The process, called nixtamalization, is how maize is able to be made into corn tortillas, amongst other foods. It makes the maize easier to eat and tastier to consume, as well as increasing the nutritional value. Incidentally it also removes between 97-100% of dangerous aflatoxins from mycelium-compromised corn, thus rendering it much safer to consume. The process is thought to have originated around 1200 BCE. -ed}


After a long chase and me visiting her several times this week, I was able to finally get in touch with tailor Harriet L. She has been struggling since March 2020 with no tailoring work at all. Harriet got an extra job cleaning someone’s office in town but since the pandemic hit, most offices closed which meant that people like Harriet had no jobs. However, she is now back to her gig every once or twice a week, helping her get some money to support her family.

Aida’s former location, now demolished

Aida K was subsequently evicted after the property she was working on was transferred to another person. We have since then been working on settling her into the new stall she got a few days ago. She had been under threat for months now until last week when she was actually evicted from the plot after the owners sold it.

Aida’s new location

Aida was lucky to find a place really quickly and she hit the ground running before she could even renovate the place. She had the timber poles raised and the roof on top then she started frying her chips. She has made progress in the previous days and we have decided to help her with the flooring because she wants the tin house to be used as a sitting space for her customers. Aida had an offer with us to help her get chairs and a table from about 4 years ago, so we will also help her to get 6 chairs and a table to help implement her plan. 

{Note: ISEE would like to thank the team members of 2019 for their generous support of Aida. During their time in Uganda they met Aida and decided as a group to leave money for her to empower her to develop her business. She used that money to renovate the space and with their continued support will soon be able to install flooring to make her space more permanent and attractive to clients. -ed}.  

Aida in 2019

It seems things are working out for another Mama, as Dorah A. was able to get a room for rent to use as a restaurant. About 10 months ago she lost her vegetable and restaurant business as the owner of the stall wanted it to be removed from the plot on which it was seated. Dorah on many occasions failed to get herself a new place because most of the new buildings in the area had been booked before she would make contact. Speaking to her today, she told me that she had finally gotten a place which she could afford so I will be working with her to secure it for at least three months. We will then assess her needs after we have secured it to ensure that she is properly set up to help her business kick off.


The last few weeks prior to this discovery, Dorah had been selling a unique type of fish which has been helping support her family. The fish is called “Peddo”, which simply would translate as “Spread”. The fish is caught, shaved into thin beautiful strips and put in the sun to dry. This was usually done to help in food storage among the tribes of the West Nile region. This is because the people who lived along the River Nile would fish a lot and as a way of preserving they had to come up with different ways to make this fish stay longer. This helped them to not only preserve fish due to the high numbers but also help them preserve food for the dry season.


One of our Mamas who needs close monitoring is Amina A. who has had a hard time getting along with her business but since she got this yellow banana business, it looks like things are going on well. The challenge here has been that usually things will start out well for Amina and then boom, things change to the worst. Right from her restaurant, then to the snack business and then to the chapati making business all these have failed to sustain themselves for at least three months. I am really hoping that this one works for her. She has managed to keep it a float for just over a month now, so we hope it stays like this. 

This week has been a bit slow due to those few days I had to work half day because of my mother. We took her to the government or public hospital for the review because they have the best doctors in Uganda. These hospitals usually have very many people flooding them because they are subsidized services but oftentimes won’t have medicine and we bought all the supplies used and the knee brace from one of the pharmacies nearby. 

I was grateful that I was able to do some work physically but I also made a few phone calls to Anna, Asia, Semmy and Catherine. 

Anna is doing okay but she has no business yet as she is still making efforts to find a new business location.

I spoke to Asia and she was doing well. We thought we would meet up but the meeting was rescheduled because she had to travel for an emergency in her village.

I was unable to meet with Semmy on the other hand as she was at work. During the lockdown she trained in tailoring and is currently working for a sewing factory, sewing masks and other uniforms for different organizations. Semmy is a teacher by profession and since schools had closed, she had to find an alternative to support herself and her family too.

Catherine N., one of our younger mamas has found it hard to get some new work for herself. She lost her catering job too due to the pandemic. Catherine worked as a school chef at a nursery and kindergarten school close by. When we spoke she was looking at going back to her snack frying job that she initially had before but with a new location. She put emphasis in finding a new location because she knows the struggle of working in a poor location.

I would like to thank you as always for supporting us as an organization as we try to improve the lives of many families that we are in touch with. This week we were working to set up Aida and by next week we believe that this project will be finished and ready to continue. This is why we continue to seek your financial and material support because as Erika used to tell me, charitable work never stops. Next week we will work with Dorah also to ensure that she secures the new location she found. We will not stop there but we will also ensure that she has all she needs to restart. 

We want to thank all of you who have supported us and we ask you that you may continue to do so.

Please continue to stay safe and do whatever it takes to protect one another from this pandemic. We love and appreciate your support.

Always in service

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society

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