Yes you can greet only by saying “Yoga”. In the Easten part of Uganda, we have a tribe called the “Iteso” who are also descendants of the Karamajong who live in the extreme North East of Uganda. These Karamojong people have a belief that all cows belong to them so in the 1960-80s, they raided other Northern Tribes taking all their cows. The government over the years has been trying to disarm them but also continue to compensate some of the people who lost their livestock due to these invasions.
This week has been very significant in most parts of the world as we all paid attention to the US elections 2020, as we saw Joe Biden and Donald Trump fight for the presidency of that “great nation”. In the same spirit here in Uganda, we had our Presidential nominations happen this 3rd and 4th November 2020 for all the interested candidates. Of course if you have been following Ugandan news, our race has been majorly zeroing down to the musician-turned-presidential-candidate called Robert Ssentamu aka Bobi Wine. The incumbent President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, who has led Uganda for the last 36 years, was also nominated. As many of you might guess, there was surely violence on the streets as people were beaten and two were actually killed on that day. Out of the total 11 nominees Robert Ssentamu was beaten , dragged out of his car and arrested, and another one called Amuriat Patrick was literally delivered to the nomination grounds with no shoes on his feet.
Tensions keep rising as we draw near to the election, as the opposition keeps mobilizing supporters to vote for them in 2021. This is where the problem is for some people like me who have lost the interest in any form of violence but also are aware of other risks including Covid 19. As the people gather, the police are trying to disperse the groups at least partially because social and community infections have increased and they want to stem the tide that has risen over the last few weeks.
These events above have affected me too in my work because in those two days most roads were closed and there I wasn’t able to access some of our people. They made my days shorter but I managed to pull through and have some assignments done.
I met with Rovence N, Dorah A, Annet N, Rehema N, Prossy L, Jane N and Sarah N. I also spoke via phone to a few people like Christine N, Geoffrey Omongin and Cissy N.
I am not a fan of indifferent news so I will start with my best news this week from Dorah A., who finally got her shop and has started moving in her items. This week I went to visit and I had found she had bought chairs and tables for the restaurant. She had cleaned the place, laid table cloths, and set out a few cups, and was hoping she could start Friday this week.
We have been working together and looking for a good location for Dorah for the last one year almost. I am happy that the long wait has brought us to this point and the hard work plus patience has paid off. She is looking into finding a fridge and maybe we can transfer one of the little fridges we have to her for the start. It might not be big but it makes a difference.
The livestock at Sarah N is looking really good. The goats look healthy and the two that are pregnant look really well; I guess these rains have helped them get enough grass to graze. The goat house is also holding up well, looks like they are doing a good job cleaning and maintaining it.
She is also looking better herself from the last time that she was ill. She seemed happier or merrier when I was speaking to her. I am really happy that she gets to be healthy again and she is actually back to her farming and digging though not on full scale. She is a hard worker and digs a lot of her food at her home.
Prossy L’s pigs are also looking really healthy. She has one pregnant sow already and she needs to create more room for the coming ones. The good thing is that she has one mature female that has failed to reproduce, even after several attempts to get it pregnant. She has decided to offer it for sale so she can get money to buy supplement food and also to prepare for the coming piggies. I think this is a good idea to help them become more sustainable as it is the point to why we engage our Mamas in our empowerment program — to ensure that they can sustain the business but also in turn take of themselves too.
I visited Rehema for the first time since I sent her money to buy the charcoal for her business and she looks really good. The stall was readjusted to a smaller shape to create way for the neighbor’s access road. She managed to get the charcoal and has started selling. She looked really happy when we met and I hope she can maintain and also maybe grow from the one bag of charcoal to multiple bags. She is still struggling with supporting her family especially with two of children who are supposed to be back in school as they are in candidate or final year students who have been allowed back in school. We will keep checking on her over the next few weeks to see the progress she makes with her business.
Whereas everyone else seems to be doing well in this rainy season, Jane N., has been struggling to keep up with her water selling. As it is a habit of many people here, we tend to harvest as much water as possible whenever it rains. This has caused a small fall in her sales and hence turning over to her paper bag business to help boost her livelihood. Only that sometimes when it rains, the road side traders also work short hours which means they don’t demand as many paper bags.
Otherwise her family is doing okay, we are looking into helping her grandson Francis get his physio this week because he has not had any in the last 10 or so months. He needs the physio to help him become stronger physically in his situation. Unlike earlier when he would have monthly regional clinics, this time we have to find him a private therapist who can come to his house.
The struggle is still on for Annet N., as she continues to look and wait on getting another place of business. She is still operating at her former place but she is running out of time. One of the things we have wanted for a long time is to help Annet find a more permanent place for her business. I think that this would give her an opportunity to grow the business but also stop living under the uncertainty of whether she will find her space or not. I will continue to encourage and also see the available opportunities to engage with Annet to grow her business and family.
Rovence N., is still waiting for the carpenter to finish her furniture since last week when he said he would be done. I visited her and also called her to check on the progress but there was no progress in this matter. I usually like to avoid such situations during work when I have to confront people in this case when they don’t do what they promise. If I don’t get a positive response by the weekend, surely I will make my way to the workshop and demand some answers. We have actually made 75% of the payment so we need to have this deal done by now. I intentionally withheld some of the money because I knew this would happen. It’s time to follow up.
Christine N., who has been having constant arguments with her husband over their property, has made progress. This week she got a court order for the hearing of this matter on the 20th November 2020. We are hoping that she can get some kind of injunction on the property to stop the husband from selling the property.
Christine is doing all her farming on this property and she doesn’t want to lose her livelihood. She earns a living through selling eggs and rearing pigs. We helped her build a poultry and pig pen to help her do her farming. She doesn’t want to lose these things because she has worked hard for them. Let’s keep sending her positive thoughts throughout these times.
Lastly, I went to see Geoffrey’s brick making exercise and things are not looking good. The rains keep coming and more bricks are breaking. He needs to bake what he has already or he actually risks losing more due to the rains. I saw the bricks and encouraged him to urgently attend to that matter or else he will lose a lot more than he might think. The bricks will be stronger after baking so he rather bakes them twice than waiting and baking them in bad shape. Which then will make them lose economic value because of poor quality.
One of the many reasons Ugandans (like me) love our country, are really small. We are like children or comedians. We never take things too seriously even though they are serious. When things start going south, we say “Kki Uganda kki tandise okunyumila” which directly translates as “Uganda is starting to get interesting for me”. We kind of exist as a social media page or application in one way or another. We have things that trend and make our country interesting. We find one positive in a million negatives just to smile and be happy.
Now if you noticed, I have used the word “Struggle” a lot in this edition. There is a phrase “Tuli mmu struggle”, which simply translates as “We are in a struggle”. All of us in real life have one or two struggles going on that we are dealing with so the last thing we need is another’s struggle becoming part of yours. This phrase has been used for both good and tough times in respective places. But the question is “What is the moral?”.
One of the things is that we need to appreciate whatever we are going through because everyone is going through something but amidst all these things, we should always remember to be kind. Erika brought me a bracelet or a rubble bangle or wristband that says, “Take a second, make a difference”. She has taught me through lots of memories to always be kind, including buying me a be kind shirt.
Let’s move on in this week remembering these words, that we are all in a struggle but let’s not get lost in our struggle because we might damage someone’s life permanently. We only live once.
Thank you for following our blogs.
Stay blessed, stay safe and remain sociable.
Let’s end period poverty together.
Yours in friendship,
Director of Prog, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society.