Greetings to you all,
I hope that we are all well and for those who aren’t, I send you positive thoughts of healing and comfort.
Things in Uganda have improved as more and more police and security personnel flock the streets and curfew is kept tight. There seems to be more vigilance in and around the city. I hope that this vigilance shall continue and the security situation improves. The month of December is a busy month everywhere, full of all sorts of things that which can easily be a target for bombers, when instead it should be a month of happiness, of togetherness, of merrymaking, and of travel.
Work continued smoothly this week and I was able to help set up some Mama businesses for the festive season.
I started with Florence A., whose request was to get hair braids and hair chemicals to prepare her salon for the festive season when business typically increases. Her challenge had been the lack of funds to boost herself in product for the season, and for her performance in the past months, we decided to offer her the loan to boost the business. Florence and I finally had to go into town to shop for the items she needed. This was after a disappointing afternoon spent waiting in vain for a supplier who failed to show up — and who actually lied to us several times about his whereabouts so we had to keep waiting for him, only to finally realize he was not going to come. He has been delivering items for her the last couple of times at her shop so we thought why not have them delivered to us at the salon but all in vain.
We then decided to go to the city and buy these items. The other reason why we did not want to go to town was the recent bombings and the threats around the city, so we thought Florence’s supplier would be a better option at that moment. Unfortunately, that did not happen but nonetheless, we were able to go and shop successfully and Florence was happy with what we got.
Our second Mama who benefited is Immaculate M., who started her business as a salon but has since transitioned into a pharmacy owner. Immaculate is a social worker and works for the HIV project at one of the hospitals in Namuwongo. With this kind of experience and exposure, she has partnered with some nurses who have come to the hospital but have not found jobs. She contacted a few and managed to strike a deal to open up a small pharmacy in her community. It is a common phenomenon for most patients not to be able to afford prescriptions at private hospitals like where she works, so she desired to bring this service closer to the community and sell at a relatively cheaper price directly to the people there.
Unfortunately the previous lady Immaculate was working with became unfaithful with the business by taking out money from the till, selling drugs at a much higher price, and not recording debts. I asked her about the new person coming in and whether she will not do the same. Immaculate said that she comes with more credible references.
We went to William Street where we got all the drugs we needed for the clinic. This process was quite easy because Immaculate made a list of what they needed beforehand. The day ended well for all of us. I am glad that we did this process because not only were we able to buy Immaculate drugs for the store, we were able to provide the community with an alternative plan to get drugs.
I was also able to meet Irene face to face for the first time since she lost her mother about a month or so ago. She was so delighted to be back at the shop but business had relatively slowed down and she even found another salon opened just next to her. She told me that it had been days since she last saw a customer and things were not going well for her. Irene was kicked out of the house and moved into the salon temporarily. Luckily she has left the kids in the village where she had been for a long time. I wrote about her misfortunes in the previous blog, so I will not go there.
What broke my heart is that she had lost her house because the rent had accumulated and this can’t be blamed on her directly because she had been away for a while dealing with issues at home. Irene is one of two children and as the firstborn a lot of responsibility fell on her head when her mother passed on. The Acholi culture, one of the tribes in Northern Uganda, is interesting in that the firstborn child always takes on the responsibility of the deceased parent.
Anyways, Irene is back at her station and the one thing I have liked about her over the past few years is her level of positivity in most circumstances. She is certain that her customers will be back because she has told most of them about her return to the market where her salon is located.
Being in the market area, I was also able to see Lilly A. for whom we were able to help get an industrial machine last week. We did not have the opportunity to see her in action after the machine was assembled at her shop. She is very happy with her machine as it is much quieter than the old Singer she had. She loves it and she had a very big smile on her face when I saw her. We also formally signed the contract process with her as we had not had the opportunity to do so.
We want to humbly and sincerely thank Rotary International for providing funding for this machine and for helping make life better for Lilly.
Harriet L. is not doing very well at the moment. She needs some funds to buy a few things like threads, fabric, needles, buttons, zippers, and some other small items to help her make a few dresses to sell. She told me that she has not had business yet so she wants to make a few dresses, display them at the front of her shop and maybe attract a few people.
Our idea is to help people like her perform business-wise so I am currently working with her to ensure that we prepare a working budget and a plan to succeed before I officially submit her request for funding.
Betty N. is also doing well. As you may know, Betty is a wonderful mother to 3 children but this time I was only able to meet her last-born girl but she said all of them are well. Alongside being a mother and tailor, she is also a trainer and has been training a few girls and women over the years. She currently has 2 girls at her shop undergoing training. It was nice to see her and her students happy.
Aidah K. is also doing great. I met her serving the last dish of the day for her customer. She seemed happy and said just like previously, business is improving even though little by little. The beauty of positivity is that it attracts good positive results and I am working closely with her while watching how we can help.
Rovence N. is still strugging with her fingers as she still feels a lot of pain at night. Otherwise, her restaurant is doing well. When I was there with her, there was a customer eating and he was asking for more water so it looks like the water purifier was a wonderful addition to the business. It is good to offer people clean and safe water at a very minimal price.
Lastly, just like last year, the plan to distribute a Christmas hamper was approved and the process has begun for me. I have started shopping for items like Posho, beans, baking flour, cooking oil, salt, soap, and rice. These are some of the items along with a bucket and soda to complete the hamper. These I will be able to purchase in the coming week.
It would have been a wonderful end to the week but sadly, I received a phone call from one of my long-time friends informing me of the loss of his father. I am glad that I was able to take a day off and travel for the burial in his home district, Bukedea. We traveled for more than 9hrs too and fro.
I want to thank everyone who follows and also for making this year’s hamper another possibility for our Mamas.
Director of Programs, Uganda.
ISEE Solutions Society.