Before getting to this week’s update, ISEE wants to say a HUGE thank you to Danielle and Dylan, two students at Okanagan School of Education who spent the past 3 weeks working on ISEE’s reproductive health training manual. They have revamped the entire document to make it cohesive and clear and we are so thrilled with what they accomplished. They donated 70 hours of time in front of the computer and we are so grateful. Webale Nnyo! – Erika
Greetings to you all,
I hope that you have had a wonderful week.
Last week, we saw our President H. E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni sworn in for the 6th term in a row. The event was colourful of course with over 10 presidents from the neighbouring countries attending in person and a few dignitaries from other nations whose presidents were not able to make it. We are only glad that it was peaceful because a lot of military police were deployed that week due to rumours spreading about an opposition candidate swearing in himself. Apparently former Presidential candidate Hon. Robert K. was planning to swear in himself as president on the grounds that he was cheated during the elections. I am glad that nothing happened and people maintained peace. It was declared a public holiday so most of us stayed home and did whatever we want.
Thursday 13th May 2021 was another public holiday for the Moslem fraternity so we lost another day or perhaps gained another holiday, so we didn’t work too. I had only two days to do work but I managed to maximize the time I had to meet up with Semmy S, Geoffrey Omongin, Lilly A, Florence A, Irene L, Cissy N, Christine N, Maria Assumpta and Annet N. My phone call efforts were not fruitful as I tried to reach Sarah N and Lorna N because it has been awhile since I last saw them. I will ensure to look for them this coming week.
This week’s work has a bit of ups and downs on two of my visits starting with Maria’s visit which was a bit of disaster when she told me the story. It turns out that her district was infested with Swine fever which has attacked and killed almost all the pigs in the area. She was forced to sell her remaining mature pigs at almost a give away price. When the buyers knew what was going on they took the advantage of this little pandemic to buy pigs at lower prices. She remained with only 6 piglets that apparently can not be affected by the fever. Her vet doctor advised her to take the piglets out, wash the house and disinfect it, leaving it open for about a week before she transferred them back to the sty. She bought detergent and other disinfectants and did that quickly and moved the piglets in one of the chicken houses.
They have since lived there and the sty has been left to dry and aerate before she can move them. After selling the remaining mature pigs she called me and decided that she would repay half of her loan. I didn’t want to accept the repayment but she insisted that she will just raise the remaining piglets and also use some of the money she is left with to help in the feeding. One of the things I have noticed with Maria is that she loves these animals and raising them gives her a sense of joy and satisfaction. Among the Mamas we have in the project, Maria is exceptional with her animals and has a big connection with them. Losing her pigs hit her hard because she just loves them. She is always telling how she loves to farm pigs and she has never regretted this decision. I only hope this does not deflate her spirits.
The same story happened with Christine N. who lives pretty much in the same neighborhood with Maria. Christine quickly also sold off all the mature pigs and bought younger ones as soon as she heard this. She was lucky not to lose any of her pigs. Otherwise she is now well and her chickens are now improving. Her chickens had previously suffered from some rare disease and she lost quite a number of her birds. She is now left with just over 150 chickens. She has decided to separate all the cocks from the hens and chicks. By doing so, she is trying to limit the spread of disease but also ensuring proper growth of each segment of birds.
Her eggs and one month chicks selling business is currently on hold as she tries to continue to build the numbers because she had to sell all the mature ones that had been laying eggs. She wants to be able to build a strong number of egg laying birds before she reopens this section of her business.
Lastly, she has also decided to engage herself in the brick making business. Just like Goeffrey, she rents a piece of land but the difference is, she pays for the number of bricks she makes. For every 10,000 bricks she makes Christine is required to pay 200,000/- Uganda shillings and for her that’s about 2000 bricks. She now decides to make 12,000 bricks which helps her to cover the extra cost which I think is a smart thing to do. By the time of my visit she had erected a 20,000 plus kiln already burned and ready for sale.
My meeting with Geoffrey went well. It had been a long time trying to work out a schedule to meet. School reopened so it has been hard to get a suitable time to meet. We met in the middle of town and discussed a lot about his brick making experience with a few challenges in making and selling them. They made sizes that were a bit off the normal size so they didn’t attract a good price as they had anticipated. Some of the bricks did not bake well so they also affected the sell outcome. The youth also gave him a few troubles here and there but they managed to make it through the first phase.
We worked out a repayment plan for the loan he received to help him complete the first phase. It was important that he completed the project so we provided him a loan to buy logs to help for the burning process.
On a sad note, in the previous weeks he has started making bricks which he had started to prepare for burning. He sent emails updating us about the progress from this second burning phase. Sadly, it had turned out that almost the entire batch did not burn. It is sad that he had hired two gentlemen who claimed to be professionals but the batch turned out bad. He asked them what happened and they told him that the heavy downpour on one of the nights really affected the fire and firewood which affected the outcome from the burning. The good thing is that he can reburn the bricks but it will cost him twice now. Let us hope that the next time it actually turns out well.
I met with Annet N after a really long time. We had tried to connect a few times but her phone was broken so I was never able to find her. This time round I caught her home and she was really happy to see me. She had good news for me. She had been looking for a new place for her business because the last one was under threat of eviction. She got a new place and we will be working on a business location visit. She says it is pretty good and strategic so we will see.
She deposited 20,000/- Uganda Shillings so it seems she is doing well. She had a balance on her loan boost which she decided to complete her payment.
At the time of my visit, she was preparing a local meal that involves wrapping peeled bananas in banana leaves. Green bananas are harvested when they mature, they are peeled and washed clean to remove the sap. Then it is wrapped in banana leaves and put in a saucepan and later placed on a charcoal stove and cooked for about an hour then whoever is preparing the meal will use their hands to mash it. Sometimes a woman will use a towel to press but most times in our local homes mothers will pour water in a bowl and dip their hands while they press it until it’s mushed.
Cissy N has made progress for herself this month by buying a truck full of sand and a bag of cement to finish the stall she was building. She decided to complete it because her previous attempts to try and find another location failed. Her friend had also offered her a work location but that didn’t work out. This is good progress on her behalf. I like it when Mamas make their own moves to start or restart their business. The personal motivation or drive to make strides like this ensures that Mamas stay focused on what they are doing.
I will be looking forward to posting you on what the next step is. As ISEE Solutions Society we try to create sustainability and self belief in all these Mamas as a way to empower them.
Irene L. is doing okay. The business is a bit slow for now but she managed to get all her kids in school this term. This was something she did not expect to do months ago before she got her business going again. She also was able to get a loan to top up the school fees payment. She was really happy to narrate the story to me when I got to her shop.
Her salon is well stocked so she is ready for business and seems continuity is more of a guarantee. She is seemingly happy with her business and joyful too.
Florence A. is doing well. The chips business is picking up well. The salon is doing great. The only challenge is that her kids can’t attend school because school has not been open for the infants like her own.
Business is not good at all for Lilly A. She has a bunch of orders that she made but no one has picked their tablecloths. The bags that she made from the fabric we helped her get also have not been paid for. During my visit she was not feeling very well and she was under the weather a bit. She was all covered up in a piece of fabric trying to keep herself warm.
Lastly , I met with Semmy S. There is no progress for her yet. School for her section is still closed so she is working with a few pupils who need English coaching classes. This month she had one who needed a two weeks coaching class.
Business on her side is not moving anywhere. She has tried almost everything but I asked her to think about another opportunity that she can pursue. Initially we started with her doing popcorns and then she transitioned to veggies and later making juice. I hope she can find something to do sooner than later.
It was unfortunate that I was not able to hear from Lorna and Sarah but I will try and look for them this coming week.
Thank you for following our weekly update. Please continue to stay safe, maintain social distancing and wear your masks.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society