Greetings to you all,
I hope you are all well. For any of you who is not, I send you best wishes and positive thoughts that you will get well soon.
Statistics released today in Uganda show an average of 27 new people are infected with the virus each day. We have reached a total of just over 40,000 infected people since the first case was discovered in March 2020. The stats say that we have had 331 deaths and 14,569 recovered patients. The virus is still out there at large especially for us here, where people continue to ignore the plea to stay safe, keep social distance and wear masks. They keep going on their days with no concern for safety and that is what makes me sick to the core.
This week was filled with so many exciting things from Mamas’ making payment to their Mama fund to seeing a pig giving birth.
I had the opportunity for the first time to see a pig give birth. It was so exciting for both Maria and I at her pig sty. Earlier that day, at about 4AM, her other pig gave birth to 8 piglets, so Maria actually saw two sets of births that day. When I was with her, her face was beaming with such joy, although she had been worried because the second mother pig was experiencing much distress and unrest because of its labor pains. It was restless since morning and it had started biting the piglets from the other pig so Maria had to put them in a secure stall.
She is now planning to expand the sty by two to three small rooms to be able to raise the piglets before selling them off. She told me that had received a few requests from neighbors’ booking some of the piglets and her system is to always keep the piglets for at least a month before she sells them. This is why she has to expand her pigsty to house them comfortably before selling them off.
In the same area as Maria lives Christine so I dropped by to check out her project. Apart from her second batch not being good at all because most of the chickens fell sick, the rest of the chickens and pigs are doing well. The egg-layers, about 50, have resumed their laying routine but not as productively as they used to so she will sell them off this Easter season. Christine currently has about 230 birds and still has adequate space in the chicken pen so she will take possession of another batch of eggs at the hatchery next week, so she has a replacement when the older ones are sold off.
The pigs are growing really fast and well in the lower section of her animal house. They look really great and clean, meaning that she has been practicing good animal husbandry. No wonder her pigs are doing well and not falling sick.
This week, we managed to secure a new shop for Irene who had been house hunting since the end of December 2020. Irene was issued with an ultimatum to vacate the previous salon house she was occupying, though neither she nor I fully understand the reasons she was ordered out as she has never had any issues with rent or anything. She was doing very well in terms of maintaining the shop. It was well kept and she had even occasionally painted it. The owner of the shop gave her two rent-free months and she was due to leave at the end of December.
She started looking for a house to move into from early December 2020 but all she found was either poor quality or too expensive. This week on Monday she found a house which she liked (partially because it was close to her former salon) but it was yet to be fully built. She called me and we had to secure it for her by paying at least four months’ worth of rent. The shop was to be completed by this weekend and she would move in and start her business as soon as possible. During my visit to make payment, we visited the place where she had stored her equipment and they were getting spoiled so we had to somehow get this shop quick to save the items in storage from the rain and dust.
She was really happy and excited to be starting next week. Over the last few visits with her, she has been a bit worried about her kids and what they would eat. She was telling me that she had already spent the majority of her working capital during this little forced layoff before she got this salon.
Later that day, I visited Cissy across the block on the other side from Maria and Christine. Cissy is doing okay, not to the level I expected but I guess she is starting to realize that she can do much better and she is willing to take on another challenge and start up another section of frying snacks.
Her restaurant is being run very well by her daughter and wants to leave that section for her daughter to run and take care of her kids. She has found another opportunity to work by her friends’ tailor shop selling snacks. Her friend has offered her a place that can facilitate her preparation, frying and selling snacks. Whereas it’s a good opportunity, this place is a bit distant from her home but the location is good and it is a busy place so it would attract a ready market for the snacks.
Meanwhile she was able to make her Mama Nguvu fund contribution which is required by every Mama in the program. Her payment obviously has delayed but of course it is understandable because of what has been happening since last year. These funds we collect from the Mamas is what we reinvest in fellow Mamas. This is how we keep the spirit going between the Mamas. We tell them sometimes where it goes so they know what they have done and who they have helped.
I was happy to see Immaculate’s new business this week. Immaculate closed her salon because it was not working out well and the people she kept employing to run the business in her absence were not faithful enough. So she decided to close the business. Immaculate is a social worker at one of the local hospitals in a place called Namuwongo for more than 10 years now. She has probably worked with many nurses over the years so in conjunction with a younger nurse, they have decided to open up a small clinic to help provide medical services to their village. It looks like it will make them happy about their enterprise. I wished them both well and thanked them for the service they are providing that community.
Lorna’s restaurant is looking promising according to her report. They are selling more than last week already, so it seems they are doing well. We also took the opportunity to work out a budget to improve on what they are doing now.
This week we are looking to improve and boost businesses of three Mamas’ including Irene L. who we helped secure a location for her business, Lorna who we will establish soon plus Annet who has requested for a boost to buy shoes and add to her business.
We want to thank you all who continue to support and follow us week in, week out. We appreciate you all. We hope that you continue to stay safe and keep social distance.
Yours in service
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society.