ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

July 25-31

{Note: Thank you so much to all of our readers who have generously donated money to our COVID relief for Mamas. We have received enough donations to fully support 30 Mamas — which means we only have 7 to go! Thank you so much for all you do for these amazing women. Assuming all goes well with the lifting of the lockdown in UG, Andrew will personally visit these women in the next week or two to hear how they are coping and we will of course post those reports here. Thank you! -ed}

Monday, July 26

Greetings to you all,

Last week I wrote about the 50+ billion that was released to buy cars for parliament members as opposed to 41 billion that would help us buy vaccines. This week, it is the failed operation to send a relief fund for what they termed “urban poor” that only reached one Mama. It is reported that 6,000 phone contacts received this fund on an error basis. This means that over 600+ millions was lost in this exercise. It broke my heart when I came across this article.

Covid is still killing hundreds of people weekly but no one seems to care that much. We bury and move on. But because there is a group of people who have access to the vaccine and treatment, they don’t care about the ordinary people like me and our Mamas who are a group of people who are actually the majority of the population in this country. “For God and my country” is our motto as a country but you wonder where we lost out the element of Godliness. 

Today I spoke to Florence A, Semmy S, Rovence N and Betty N. 

Betty is still under the healing process from her C section. She explained that usually the third one takes longer to heal and it is the most painful. She said the baby is well and her entire family is well but just the healing process has taken longer than she thought. 

She said that she has been on leave since the delivery and will hopefully return to work next week when the lockdown is perhaps lifted. 

Betty runs a tailoring and design shop for herself, where she trains girls and women to sew. Through this practice she is able to earn some extra income on top of her sewing practice. We wish her the best and a quick recovery. 

Semmy S. is doing okay. Semmy has done a few businesses during her time with us like popcorn making, snacks, vegetable selling, juice vending and now she is coaching students around her community. There is nothing much for her to do in this situation as a professional teacher. All she has done in the last month was to perform coaching classes for what used to be three students and now she has only one. Semmy coaches this little girl for 5 days a week to help her keep her mind sharp and steady for when actual school returns. 

Florence is still really well with her food and snack business. She is originally a salonist but has been forced to trade in other businesses like popcorn making, chips making and donuts. This was a good idea for her because the government passed restrictions on salons so she was not allowed to open. 

Speaking to her today, she was grateful that she was doing this good business because that’s how they have survived during these 42 day of  lockdown. I am glad that she had no complaints even after she wasn’t able to get the government relief fund. She reported that all the kids and her younger sister are well. No cases of illness for any of them so it was really good to hear that she is happy. We can only hope that this remains the case for the next few days until lockdown is lifted. 

I had to call up Rovence because of the agreement we have with her to feed Francoise during this time. I feel obliged to call and check whether this partnership is going on and I am glad it is. Francoise will continue to receive food for the next 14 days until her medication is done. The one thing I really appreciate about Rovence is that she has offered a few more plates on top of what we pay her to Francoise so she can eat adequately. She offers her any food she wants: meat, peas, beans and fish sometimes. I am glad we made this happen for these two people. 

The other good news is that Rovence received the relief fund from the government. 

I am sorry that this week was supposed to be a start on a good note but I guess we have no power to determine some of these things. I have a big passion for leadership as a whole so I guess when our leaders don’t measure up to the task, it breaks my heart. Nonetheless, I was delighted to know that at least one of our Mamas benefited from the government Covid relief fund. 

July 27

Today has been a hot day for us here. Google says it was 25 degrees celcius but it feels like 35 for sure. It is nice weather even though it was a bit cloudy most of the day. I had the opportunity to put out some of my beddings to get some sun. 

I would like to extend my thoughts to all of you who are in Canada whether you are affected or not affected by the fires. I have read about them for years now and we have spoken about them with Erika and it is sad that something that has affected you for years can’t seem to get a solution. Our Mamas are always asking about you, all they say is “How are our muzungus?” which simply means, how are our people on the other side (You)? Our thoughts are with you during these tough times.

Today I have spoken to Harriet L, Lorna K and Maria A.

Harriet L. is not feeling her best because she had a toothache for a few days now. She told me that she tried to visit the public hospital but she waited for the doctor but all in vain. The dentist didn’t show up the whole morning and she had to leave so she has had this ache for a few days now. I will contact a dentist I know to see if we can have her get an appointment with him so we can help her with this emergency.

Harriet is a tailor and she had wanted to open up a tailoring shop to supply some little materials like fabric and threads around her community. She would also use the same place to tailor clothes for the different people who may require work to be done for them. She has put the house hunt on hold because of the obvious reasons with the many lockdown restrictions, so it has been somewhat impossible for her search to continue. Otherwise her family is well, her husband is also doing his level best to keep the family afloat. 

Lorna started out as a tailor who knitted sweaters for school going children and people who needed them. The business was picking up well, she even bought a sewing machine to help her sew the knitted pieces together instead of by hand. Then the lockdown hit, affecting everything. She tried to purchase second hand bedsheets to make baby sheets but that too didn’t work out. Later on, she decided to opt for a small restaurant and this has helped to sustain her family till to date. She is such a dedicated person so she volunteers her Tuesdays to one of the local clinics in a peer to peer program.

The last time we spoke to Lorna, she was having her restaurant door fixed because they had broken into her restaurant and some of her stuff was taken. She had the door fixed and a new lock placed on the door. She now feels safer because the door was reinforced. She has since bought another flask to replace the stolen ones. This is not adequate but also we can’t access the good ones like we used to so she bought herself that for the moment. I am happy that Lorna and Catherine are keeping their business going even during these hard times. She said the sales have reduced significantly because of the increased levels of poverty due to limited work around her community.

I am also glad she was able to get her medication during this lockdown. One of the members in her group was able to receive a consignment of medication for all of them. This enabled each one of the members to get their medication for the next two months. 

Finally today I received a distress call if I may call it that from Maria A our piggery Mama who needed quick and urgent support. She phoned asking that I help her to buy some food. I sent her the money to ensure neither her nor her animals sleep hungry. 

Maria used to sell deep fried snacks at one of the local secondary schools in her area. She would make fried cassava (call it cassava chips), chapati and other dough snacks. She started feeling the effect of the heat on her body as a senior so she decided to concentrate on her beloved animal farm (Piggery). She loves these animals because she says they are the easiest to feed as they literally eat anything, even clothes if given a chance. She takes pride in these animals and keeps them very close to her heart.

July 28

Today yet again was another hot day for us here. My lips actually cracked because of the heat and dehydration I guess. I am not one who does not drink water so I am really surprised that my lips cracked. I have been drinking a lot of water since I felt the cracks this evening and I am sure I will be okay.

We are nearing the last days to the end of the 42 day lockdown that was initiated mid June. The president was forced to initiate an emergency lockdown for 42 days, with restrictions including no movement of public and private transportation. No cars were to cross from one district through to another without written permission. All this was done obviously to help manage the spread of the Corona virus that had become rampant at the time. Most if not all hospitals had run out of oxygen and private hospitals were simply extorting money from patients. None of us surely knows what is next after the 31st of July but a large section of people suspect that the lockdown will be extended because the truth is that the situation has not changed much.

Today I had the pleasure to talk to Jane N, Annet C and Dorah A.

Jane N. our Mama who sells water has had a good season these past few weeks. Business has been booming for her and I am glad for that. When I called her, she was exercising. She was skipping her rope and I was pleased to hear that she is trying to improve her physical health. In a season such as this it is important we all keep our physical body as sharp as possible. I am glad she has a routine and she follows it.

Annet C. is also doing well. She has still continued with her salon trying even though her student numbers have dropped majorly because some of them worked in the factories around the community. She operates her salon on the low as she tries to observe the standard operating procedures. The shoes have not been selling that much because of the limited economic activities in the factories. 

Dorah A has fully recovered from the virus. Her voice sounded very vibrant and we had a good chat. Unfortunately, she was not able to go check out the business spot she had found before lockdown. Someone she knows that works at that building told her that it had been locked up and no one was allowed in.

Tomorrow I plan to take a walk so I can go buy a few things I need for my house. I have run out of most supplies so I will need to replenish. I will be sure to take a few photos here and there that I will share with you in my report. Otherwise there is nothing really exciting today except that the lockdown is coming to an end.

July 29

Today was a very perfect day, the weather was a bit cooler than it has been, we were blessed with some light showers and it has cooled down the evening for us. I bet we will have a somewhat cool night’s sleep after very many nights of heat and a lot of discomfort.

Today I was able to make it to the grocery store that I like. I usually buy fresh bread from them and it lasts me about a week or so if I manage it well. I have loved bread since I was a kid so my mum usually tells me that she is not surprised that I buy it. Since she knows my undying love for bread, she makes me Peanut butter (called odi) from ground nuts which I spread on my bread every morning for breakfast. 

I also ordered rice, peas, cooking oil, and baking flour from Pulakiseda, one of our Mamas who owns a grocery shop and she had it delivered to my house using a boda boda (Motorcycle guy). I know it costs a bit to transport these items to my house but to me the joy comes from being able to support our Mamas. I also bought bananas from my local stalls here as a way to still support the village people here too, so it was a nice day for me.

Today, obviously I spoke to Pulakiseda, she says business is still small. She said that these last days of the lockdown have not been good for her because of the fact that most of us have run out of money. The limited transportation also affects our ability to reach the market which also limits our expenditure. Even me personally, I was not able to buy as much from the market because like you know, we buyers like to buy what we see.

I checked on Margaret and she is doing okay. Her foot is slowly improving, she said, so that is a good thing. I am glad she is recovering well from that nerve damage. You know she is actually a tailor, so she has been using her feet a lot.

Today was not very eventful because I had a lot of walking to do to go to the supermarket to get my bread and a few things. I was glad I had that walk because I feel like today will be a good night to sleep well. I had the pleasure to sit and eat one of the best innovations in Uganda called “Chapati”. It is a type of flatbread that is shallow fried in cooking out but this one was made with finely cut green peppers, carrots and onions. It was the best I have had in a while. If you ever come to Uganda, please try it.

July 30

Today marks the last day of the 42 day lockdown of the second wave of the Corona pandemic and as I type today’s blog, the president is actually delivering a state of the nation address. I had to stop for a minute to listen to what he said because I had to be sure I understood what he was singing. The most important thing today is that he has reopened both public and private transport. This means that I can now go visit and assess the actual situation of most of the Mamas. 

The president reported that the effects of the 42 day lockdown has improved stats from 22% to only 8% of new infection rates but has attributed the lack of drop in death rates because most people go to the hospital very late to receive treatment. It was so bad today that many people were arrested in town because people attempted to move before the lockdown was lifted. I am honestly glad that it was lifted to a semi lockdown state and most importantly public transport was released. The locals can now access transportation right from taxis that carry 14 people but allowed to carry only 7 to boda boda (motorcycles) allowed to carry only one.

This week on my walk to the bread shop, I was able to get some cassava tubers for myself. I boiled them and later deep fried them to give them a crisp taste. It was surely a wonderful meal. It had been awhile since I made myself a plate of cassava root tubers. It must have been about 2yrs at least.

Today I reached out to Prossy L and Annet N.

Annet N. is one of our Mamas who has been selling tea and porridge on the roadside of her community. She wakes up every morning to go to the roadside, makes charcoal fire, boils tea and porridge and sells to early morning workers around the market. Today she was okay and she said it was going well. She was doing okay, the children too were okay, none of them have fallen sick since the lockdown was first initiated.

Business has been really slow for her these past many weeks. Customers reduced a lot when the lockdown was initiated and she only sold tea to a few gentlemen who would make it all the way to the market and the roadside. The more people available on the streets and roadsides, the better Annet’s business is. 

Prossy has been struggling a lot, especially with her pigs. She said the sun was too hot and it delayed most of the crops in the village. She has not been able to do much of her paper bag business throughout this period because most local roadside businesses have been closed for a while now. This means that she has been surviving on the food her garden produces and also the little support from her children. I think this is a good thing that her children are able to support for the moment. I was privileged to see a bit of how she was able to raise these kids from the revenue of raising chickens and pigs. She put the kids to the highest level of schooling she could. She later found them jobs at a local bakery and 2 of the 3 kids still work there.

This week has ended on a good note that is for sure and regardless of what has happened, I feel that the lifting of the lockdown is one of the best things that could happen to this nation. The results of the second group of finalists (S.4) examination result returned and quite a number of students managed to pass their exams. Considering the many days lost in the lockdown the last two years, it is amazing that they were able to succeed. We congratulate all of them for pushing through to the very end. 

I wish you the very best this weekend. I know a lot is still going on especially in Canada right from the fires to the pandemic situation that has recently changed. I can only wish you the very best so people may start to realize the importance of wearing masks and following standard operating procedures as we call them in Uganda. 

Andrew

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