Greetings to you all,
I hope that you are doing well. Those who are not feeling well, we wish you better health and send you our positive thoughts.
The weather down here has changed very much as the rains seem to have come back. We have been experiencing rain for about four days straight this week. These rainy days usually cause incredible delays in transportation with long traffic queues. Also, several parts of Kampala and roads themselves are flooded thereby delaying everything. The New Vision, one of our leading daily newspapers, reported a big mudslide in the southwestern part of the country blocking some major roads.
The upside of this situation for some of us is the fact that the temperatures have been so hot in the last couple of months, thereby the change of the season ensures some level of coolness.
The Covid 19 situation has not changed much as many of the locals impatiently demand that the country fully reopens as there is a continued increase in poverty. The president has reopened schools and other tertiary institutions with the condition that only fully vaccinated students will attend class physically and the rest will attend remotely. The President, HE Museveni, has set the target for vaccination at 12 million people by the end of 2021. This is a growing possibility as the country continues to receive vaccine donations and also the fact that people are increasingly responding to the call to vaccination.
This week I visited several Mamas including the following: Lorna K, Gertrude N, Jane N, Maria A, Pulakiseda N, Asia B, and Cissy N. Otherwise some of my attempts to reach a few of the Mamas did not yield; for example Irene L., whom I have been trying to reach all week, and Geoffrey Omongin, who continues to miss my phone calls.
I would like to start with the one visit which was more exciting for me. For over 2 years, I have been trying to get Cissy N. to establish her snack shop and finally complete its construction. Cissy had promised to build a small shelter to house her popcorn machine because this arose from her original application to help boost her restaurant business but over the last 2 years, she had not completed this establishment.
This last week I was very proud to visit her and find that not only had she completed the house, she has also started frying chapati and cassava pancakes. This type of pancake is made out of cassava flour and bananas. The type of yellow bananas used is the small ones which are kept until they are very ripe. They are then mashed and mixed with the cassava flour then deep fried in very hot cooking oil until they turn dark brown. It was such a great feeling to see Cissy accomplish this because it has been a continuous struggle and it has required more than 24 visits to see her reach this point. I am now looking forward to seeing her sustain the business and in the next few weeks or months, we could avail the popcorn machine if there is still the interest to do this business.
Pulakiseda N. is also having a wonderful time with her fridge since we helped her acquire it a few weeks ago. She has followed through on her promise and bought the sodas, water, and juice that she intended to sell to the public. This business has started well, making money already and she has started her loan repayment plan as scheduled.
This week she made her first deposit and I have already put it in our bank account. Otherwise business is still going on well in the shop, I was also able to buy some food requirements this month from her and she was always happy to serve my needs. I bought some rice, sugar, peas and cooking oil.
Asia B. has just returned to business as usual last week as she had gone to attend to her sickly mother. She received a call from her younger sister telling her that their mother was not doing well so she had to travel to her village and pick her up. She brought her to the city to at least get relatively good medical attention. This resulted in closing her shop for a few days because unlike before, she is concerned about the safety of her girls who have been attending to the shop in her absence. There is continued concern about the increased level of young girls getting pregnant in our communities in the last couple of years due to the effect of the pandemic and the market is no exception. She has since withdrawn their participation in the shop without her presence in the market. Otherwise, she is now back after her mother receiving treatment and being out of danger. Asia has now returned to her shop because the mother is doing better than before but will be required to back for review.
The animal feeding situation for Maria A. is still a concern and I have had to intervene one more time by buying some feed for the animals. Sometimes these things just get out of hand a bit for these farmers and we have to intervene. She is not lazy and when I visited, she showed me some parts of her garden where she had planted sweet potato leaves to help boost her animal feed. She buys a small bag of feed for 30,000 Ugandan shillings so I availed her of 3 bags of feed to help her in the next few weeks.
She is lucky that the rains are back so this will boost the growth of the sweet potato leaves and supplement the feeding. She told me that she had just sold a few pigs to help take back her three children to school after the reopening of tertiary schools. As a family, they decided to redirect their children to tertiary schools because it is the best course of action for their progress. The academic industry has been greatly affected by the pandemic to a level where students are not even sure which grades they are in anymore because some of them have only attended a week or two in their academic semesters. I felt that it was a good call for them both progress-wise and economic-wise.
Lorna K. is doing okay. It was unfortunate that when I wanted to see her, she was at the community hospital where she volunteers every week as a peer educator with pregnant women. According to her, she said her business was doing okay. She has made some new improvements on top of serving tea and porridge by adding bread and donuts. This was previously done by Catherine, her daughter who has since lost interest in providing samosas at the restaurant. Otherwise, she is well generally but the only challenge that she has had like many other mothers during this season has been raising her children. One of her sons, actually the youngest son, has been breaking all sorts of rules at home and the worst being theft. He has been picking money from her bag over the last few months to an extent that Lorna wanted him to go back to school.
Semmy S. is doing such a wonderful job for herself at the moment with both her tutoring and soap-making business. The number of pupils has since grown from 3 to now 10 pupils that she has to meet with weekly. This means that there has been consistency in her earnings and hence a noticeable difference in lifestyle. She looks happier and sounds more lively and hopeful for the future.
Semmy is a nursery and lower primary school teacher. Their level of school has been affected by the Covid 19 restrictions which means that schools will not be opened until next year. This means that being a teacher in a private school, she will continue not to receive a salary from the school. Having a busy schedule with tutoring of pupils and the continued making of soap means that she can sustain her children. I also actually bought a little of that liquid soap for myself to help in cleaning my home.
Gertrude N. is coming off a short season of illness for the past few weeks. She has been experiencing difficulty in breathing and mild headaches thereby she has been attending some hospital visits. She has visited the scan or x-ray to see what is wrong with her lungs and they did not find any problems. She was then advised to go see a cardiologist assess her heart’s performance as it may also cause the shortness of breath that she has been experiencing. This means that her stationery shop has been closed and will remain closed until she gets some kind of diagnosis and treatment.
Jane N. is fine, along with her grandchild Francis, however, the business has not been good this past week due to the heavy downpour that we have been experiencing. Most people have learned to fetch and harvest water during these downpours hence reducing her sales on water. This is a good thing for most people but surely not a good thing for Jane’s business but lucky for her she continues to make her paper bags and delivers them daily to her roadside customers. Francis is doing well recently as he also continues to attend his physiotherapy meetings with the special needs hospital. These meetings ensure that Francis is checked every month and his welfare is assessed to determine his wellness. I am glad they have been able to continue with this practice even when we are not involved anymore.
In conclusion, this week has been great, and like I mentioned earlier one of my highlights for this week, was having to finally see Cissy N start her business. I look forward to a better week ahead. I hope that the weather gets better so I can get a balance in my movements and tasks.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society