ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

August 1-8

Now that the lockdown restrictions have been removed in Uganda, Andrew is back to visiting the mamas and our other partners in person and is sharing an update with us once a week as he was doing before. -ed

Greetings to you all world,

I hope that you are all doing well. If not, I hope it gets better sooner than later. I still send our families and friends positive thoughts especially those being affected by the evacuations caused by the fires. I feel that the fire has gone on too long but we can only hope that maybe the rains come back soon to help in putting the fires off.

The lockdown was finally lifted here and people are starting to figure out work and their lives all over again. My first assignment after the lockdown was to ensure that I met with one of our old friends Peter Kiwanuka who runs the organization React Now Save Young Mothers. Earlier this year, I met with Peter to learn about his proposal to purchase a small piece of land on which he intends to build the organization a home for their vocational activities. He started lobbying for funds and was able to get ⅓ of the money he needed to purchase the land. The promise to make this contribution was met by one of his friends and he thereafter approached us with this dream. 

Peter and his wife, Flavia

I met him a few weeks later and we started to go over the plans and options. There was to be second phase, third, forth phases from which he would build slowly through the different resources he would encounter. Anyways, Peter was lucky that ISEE Solutions was able to show up for him and we contributed the remaining balance for the piece of land.

I was really happy that I was able to make the drive that took me more than 2.5hrs. It is actually about 70kms from where I live but it took me that long to reach my destination (Jinja District). I usually borrow my friend’s car to go this far because using public transport would take me up to 4hrs to get there. Public transport for me would mean at least boarding vehicles 3 times, with one being a motorcycle. The two would be public mini buses that normally would carry 14 people but now they are permitted to carry only 7. 

The one thing we Ugandans love when taking these long journeys is that we have stopovers where we buy roasted goodies like meat and chicken from. This is often the highlight, so I stopped like the tradition is and I got myself a few pieces of chicken and roasted plantain for the rest of the journey.

The other interesting thing about this journey is that you get to drive through Uganda’s largest natural forest called Mabira forest. The wind in that section of the road blows differently that’s for sure, so I was happy to drive through it another time. (It’s the freshest and most beautiful air in Uganda! It’s such a welcome change to the dry and smelly air that is normally around us. Curses when we are travelling to Jinja and end up behind a stinky old transport truck as we travel through the forest! – Erika)

The not fun part of this journey is the traffic jam that usually makes the journey longer, especially on the return home.

Purchasing land in Uganda is a different process than in Canada. It usually starts with searching and surveying the availability of the plot and when this is done, the buyer meets the seller to discuss. The buyer {Peter} picked out the plot he wanted that he thought would be easy for his location of the project. The owner called a few representatives including the local council chairperson, the head of village security and the secretary. These people are charged by the government with the responsibility to preside over such proceedings. They help draft the sales agreement for the plot and this helps to legalize the sale. As the buyer, Peter brought his own witnesses, his Board of Director Members who helped to sign the agreement.

The official land purchase agreement

I traveled with him and the team to deliver the funds but also to witness the signing of the contract or agreement. This exercise went on successfully and all parties were happy. Peter was even happier because apart from getting the property handed over to him officially, the neighbour to his plot had also brought in water and electricity. This meant that now the organization shall have access to water and power without spending a lot of money to bring those services to the land.

Peter, Flavia and the previous owner of the land

Peter shall now proceed with plans of buying construction materials to help in the construction process. He talked about using a small piece of the land to start making bricks because by doing so, he will save money on buying bricks hence reducing the construction costs. The bricks are made in a pretty similar way as Geoffrey makes his but this time it will be made using red dirt as opposed to Geoffreys’ clay.  Peter will, along with a few people, dig, heap red dirt and mix it with water. They will then make wooden cast boxes and a table on which the bricks will be made. This exercise is very tasking and it is very labor intensive. The hardest part is fetching water especially if the well is a bit far. After bricks are made, they are put out of the cast box and left to dry for a few weeks. The dried bricks are later piled into a kiln and baked for days using firewood. After the baking, the bricks are left to cool and then they are ready for use in construction.

He will have to venture into all possible ways to reduce his building costs. His pitch in the proposal was the fact that they would save a lot of money if they managed their own facility. They would be able to do more with the money the girls and boys contribute towards their study.

At the end of my assignment in Jinja, completing the purchase of React Now’s property, I was able to take Peter and his expectant wife for a little lunch as a courtesy from ISEE Solutions Society. They were really happy for the meal and Peter actually called me to see if I had reached Kampala safely. He was very thankful and appreciative for both the gestures and the celebratory lunch if I might call it that.

My second task was to ensure that all our Mamas get the Covid relief fund that was designated by ISEE to help Mamas pick themselves up after the lockdown. (This was to replace the money that the government did not supply to our mamas despite the promise made at the start of this lockdown. Thank you to everyone who generously donated to provide this emergency relief. -ed) I was able to send 95 percent of the Mamas whose phones were available and the rest I had to look for them physically. The Mamas were so happy and relieved when I called them up to deliver the message to them. They were so delighted at the end of the call. I will  look out for the remaining few who I was not able to catch by phone.

Otherwise the exercise went well and I am glad that we were able to come through for them in these tough times. The government has surely failed us in so many ways. They have failed to provide the people with the vaccines and relief finances. Statistics still show that less than one million people are vaccinated and with not much progress being done to secure vaccines many people are still dying. The government has allowed people to access their social security fund savings in order to help treat themselves or access treatment. This only means that if they survive, they will not have enough or even any money to survive during retirement.

Thank you for keeping up with us through these times especially with the ongoing fires and the pandemic at large. We appreciate all the time invested in this project, the constant support and comments. It is such an honor to do what I do and also get the opportunity to share it with you using this platform. I await to share with you again next week, please remain vigilant, stay safe and remain sociable because we need some kindness and love.

Report by;

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda.

ISEE Solutions Society

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