ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

November 19 update

Greetings to you all,

I hope that you are all well. 

Lilly with sewing machine on a boda

This week was a successful one yet again as we managed to set up another Mama to function for business as we enter into the festive season. Last week when I visited Lilly A., she had been struggling for weeks trying to fix her 13-year-old tailoring machine. It had broken down several times over the last few years but she was able to fix it previously. This time around the machine refused to get fixed even after 4 technicians tried.

all this, plus Lilly, on one boda…

I spoke to her a couple of times and we realized this machine was going nowhere at this point, so we thought we would try and replace the machine rather than the table as it still looked functional. Unfortunately, this was not possible because the machine she wanted was a different design so it would not be compatible with her old Singer Machine. Otherwise, the shop owner also told us that it would be better to buy the whole combo rather than just one item. 

The receipt for Lilly’s machine

I am glad that through all this we were able to get Lilly a brand new machine made in Taiwan that she will be able to use from now on. We were worried that she wouldn’t be able to do business this festive season because her machine was broken. It is usually during this season that tailors make a lot of money because people tend to like to update their houses and clothing.

Lilly happily working on her new machine

{note: A huge thank you goes out to the International Committee of the MeadowRidge Rotary Club, who generously donated the funds to cover Lilly’s new sewing machine and table. We have presented at this club several times over the past few years and we have always enjoyed their conviviality. It is great when different charities can work together to achieve goals like these and we hope to continue the partnership. -ed.}

I am also glad to inform you that Justine, whom we had to help get medication for her burning legs and feet, is now doing better. She sells vegetables in her stall and fries snack foods. The standing and cooking is what she thinks is the cause of her burning legs. She uses firewood to heat the oil to fry the snacks, and she thinks perhaps the open flame could be the thing affecting her.

Justine with her medication

She had initially gone to a clinic close to her home and she was given pain killers to help reduce the pain. The medical attendant told her that she needed a different medication to help treat this symptom so it goes away permanently. When I called her back to follow up on her she said the medication was a bit expensive.

The next day she called me saying that she had gotten some money but it was not enough. Therefore I sent her money via mobile and she was able to get the drugs. I am glad to say that during my follow-up visit, Justine was doing much better. 

Justine’s new stall

Now that she is feeling better Justine has decided to start making plans of shifting business. She is going to stop frying snacks. She has erected a wooden stall beside the veggie stall and she is going to buy sandals, shoes, slippers, and some second-hand clothing. She says this will help her gain the money from which would have come from the frying. 

Prossy at her home near Mityana

I was also able to see Prossy L. finally after a very long time. She had been away since March 2021, after her mother fell and broke her hip bone. Unfortunately, it is unfortunate that she is elderly and there is nothing the doctors can do at the moment except to give her painkillers. Prossy’s mother is close to 100 years and now she is incapable of doing anything for herself therefore with the help of Prossy and Prossy’s daughter Hellen, they cook and clean the home. 

In regards to her piggery project, Prossy and her husband have recently sold all the older pigs except one which was pregnant. They have an attachment to this particular one and she even has a name: Bombardier. She is about 2 months pregnant at the moment. 

Prossy’s pig

They now have one adult pig and 8 piglets. She said that the older pigs were sold off because they had overgrown and they were not responding to the feeding they were given. She decided to kind of restart the project by bringing in new stock, which I thought is a good idea for her. Prossy was heading out to go back to nurse her mother the next day, so we gave her some money to help her in transportation and buying some medication for her mother. 


I finally got a hold of Irene L. our salonist who I have not been able to get in touch with for weeks now. She was still in Gulu at the time we spoke but she was working out a plan to return. Since the demise of her mother, Irene has had a couple of unfortunate incidents with both her sons, where the oldest boy got involved in a motorcycle accident and the younger one also got malaria. Both these incidents further delayed her return because she was out of cash by that time. She planned to get some money and buy them food so she could leave them in the village. The transport fares from Gulu to Kampala are a bit high at the moment especially with the increase in the prices of fuel recently. 

I felt the need to help Irene with some funds to bring her back to Kampala because she has a lot more opportunities in making money rather than looking for money while there. Secondly, the festive season is so close so we were not going to let her miss out on these opportunities. Thirdly, it is so important that her children do not go hungry so we were glad to be of service. We believe that all children should have an opportunity to have a decent meal.

We are glad to have been able to serve Irene and her family in this way so I am waiting to see what she starts with this week when she gets here. 

Sarah at home

Sarah N. our goat rearing Mama was a bit sad this week’s visits because she just lost one of her female goats. What makes her sadder is the fact that they can get around the reason why it died. It was perfect the previous day but by morning it was dead. She called some people to investigate by butchering it, thinking maybe it ate something bad but after they cut it, they found nothing. All the insides looked great and they took all the meat. Sarah says she doesn’t feel right eating an animal who died unexpectedly, but the guys who cut it gladly took all the meat. 

Sarah’s goats in the field

Otherwise, apart from that incident, Sarah is doing okay and continues to do her agricultural farming. Her children and grandchildren are doing okay and I found them down in the grass watching over the goats as they feed. They usually cut the grass and bring it to the animals but also every day for one hour the goats are taken to the bush to feed more naturally. The goats tend to like the dew that settles on the grass in the evening. The usual order is always keeping the goats in their house which actually still looks good and is still very farm. 

One of Betty’s wedding gowns

Betty N. our tailoring Mama is doing very well. The last time I spoke to her, she was working on some wedding gowns and she was waiting on one more bride-to-be who had promised to give her a job. It’s great when Mamas do well in their fields and we are honoured to be a small part of their successes. 

a different view of the same gown
Annet at her shop

Annet C, one of our salon Mamas, had been struggling since our last visit. Four of her five students left in the preceding weeks because they had been laid off from work. These young ladies work at a factory and when they are not on shift they attend class at Annet’s salon to learn hairdressing and decoration. The women were laid off due to the on-going repercussions of the pandemic. 

Luckily she has received another group of students and hopefully this new group of women can finish their training successfully. 

Otherwise, Annet is okay and her family is healthy. None of the kids are going to school of course because schools have not re-opened. 

I was happy to see Aidah N. smiling when I visited her this week. It looks like business has improved on her side because more of her customers are themselves starting to return to work and therefore have money to buy her food. Aidah’s business is close to a motor vehicle garage. Previously work was slow for the mechanics so they weren’t earning much and so didn’t buy much food, but now as people are gradually returning to work the garage is getting busier and the mechanics are returning to work. She is also getting some business from the customers patronizing the garage.

She now works until about 4:30PM. Transportation becomes very difficult after 5PM as people are in rush hour to try and beat the 7PM curfew. 


Amina A. is doing okay but still requires a lot of monitoring at the moment. She has now traded bananas twice and the first one, she sold them off as they were unloaded from the truck. She did not even take home any bananas as many people had come to buy bananas. Amina is lucky that she knows the guy who drives the trucks that brought the bananas. She calls him while in the field and pays for the bananas while they are still in the garden. This time the bananas were scarce in the gardens but she was lucky that she got her share. When the truck reached Kampala, other traders were offering a fair price so she sold them on the spot. I am glad this is starting well for Amina. 

Harriet at her tailoring shop

I was able to speak to Harriet L. our tailoring Mama who recently received good news about the extension of the eviction time by the Uganda Railway Authority. Many of the people living by and around the railway line in Namuwongo and many other places were issued an eviction notice because the government has the intention to revive this mode of transportation to help improve trade and public transport itself. Harriet after a long search for a shop to rent recently got one along the railway line and sadly it is within the railway reserve so it will have to go. I called her to check on her and see how she is doing and she is doing well, enjoying the extension for the time she is left with. I am glad she has a place to tailor during the festive season as people like to tailor clothes for the season. 


Dorah A. continues to struggle with finding a new place for her restaurant. She had been looking at a couple of places but they have not pulled through yet so she continues to search. She has made progress with her chicken coup and she brought in a few chickens to raise and sell during the festive season. This is good business because chickens are highly prized during the season. On Christmas many families will eat chicken and soda as a treat.

Generally, the week went well for me here though the weather has not been friendly. We have had more sun and less rain this week than the previous week. The COVID situation has not improved much but like last week, more people continue to roll out for vaccination as the country continues to receive vaccine donations. On a sad note during my casual strolls through the city, I have seen several people not wearing masks and I have noticed some level of reluctance at the shopping malls and arcades as security personnel are not doing their job. 

It is good that the numbers of the vaccinated masses continue to grow but it is also important that we adhere to the standard operating procedures.

Report by:

Andrew Echel 

Director of Programs, Uganda. 

ISEE Solutions Society. 

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