I just want to thank you all again for your support! We have managed to ensure that 63 children are back in school after 2 years of being home. This one-time boost has relieved our mamas of the burden of needing to find funds to register and equip their children for a sudden return to school. Now that businesses are open again, the Mamas will be responsible for further fees as is expected through the Mama Nguvu program. – Erika
Greetings to you all,
I hope that you have been keeping well and staying safe. It was unfortunate last week that I caught a cold and cough that was making rounds among the majority of the people here but I am glad that in three days, I was okay.
The weekend was good for most parts of the country as we were able to receive some good amounts of rain for two days. It has been quite hot for most parts of the beginning of this year. I was glad to see some rains because some or most of our mamas, especially the farming ones, will depend on this season to perform better but all this was not to be because the rains have seemed to disappear yet again. The effects of the ever-increasing impact of mankind on the global issue of climate change. We all have a responsibility towards protecting this planet and most of us have not played our role yet we all ought to play our part so we can save our planet.
This week was focused back again on Mama Nguvu, as we continue in our quest to fully empower the group of women we serve. I made a few visits and calls to assess the progress of some of the Mamas and below are the Mamas I worked with.
Dorah A is doing great in her cooking and restaurant business. She has not found a shop or space to relocate from the space she is cooking at home. She moved her business back home about a year ago when businesses got closed due to the pandemic. She was worried that she would not make the rent during the lockdown so she moved all her items including the ISEE loan fridge back to her home. Indeed, this was a good idea and it helped her work or cook at home and deliver the food to the construction sites around her community. This sustained her home and family throughout that period and since the reopening of our economy as of 1st January 2022, Dorah started house hunting because she needed to restart her business. She would have continued cooking from home but the space at home is a bit small and also she has kids at home too hence the need to protect them too.
At the moment the business is not doing bad at all and actually by the time of my visit with her, she was heading out to her child’s school to clear up some dues she was left with.
Dorah also has rabbits that she has been raising for the last few months and they seemed to have been doing well. One of the rabbits got pregnant and gave birth but they couldn’t make it because the mother rabbit did not have enough milk. She spoke to her vet doctor and she was advised to give it a supplement that would help it next time. Good enough us that she found the supplement and now we hope that they will do well.
Irene L the salonist is also doing okay at the moment. She testified to me that the boy Johnson, her last-born has been very excited for the last two weeks because of school. She said Johnson wakes up as early as 6 am every day to prepare and go to school. He looks like one who will love school and this is what we hope for as school is one of the gateways to success.
Otherwise, her business is not doing bad at the moment as customers continue to come back from the hangover of school fees payment. Business is usually on the low for most of our Mamas during this time of the year. It is something that they have learned to live through because there is nothing much they can do at the moment. At the close of the year 2021, Irene’s business was one of the businesses I was looking at to boost because of the challenges she had towards the end of the year, especially with the death of her mother and the temporary closure of the business. I am now looking at the point when she is completely settled in the business and the level of activity rising, this is when I will make the move to boost her business. Otherwise, at this point, we will just observe her progress.
Florence A, another salonist and fast-food entrepreneur, is doing well. The most favorable business at the moment is her fast-food business, it has been sustaining the family through the tough times of the salon. She has also been able to visit her children and take them more requirements for school. Florence decided to take both her kids to boarding school to pay attention to the business but also protect her children too.
Florence’s salon and fast-food business occupy the same space as her home which puts her children at risk but also the environment is not good for school-going children. Both businesses sometimes or even most of the time run until midnight. This means that it would be incredibly hard for the schoolgoers to revise and even rest when they get home.
Florence’s next project is to shift her home to another location because the businesses can’t shift as they are located strategically.
Margaret N is also recovering slowly but making progress. She was diagnosed with some nerve or neural damage in her left foot which has greatly affected her tailoring business. This damage made it extremely hard for Margaret to treddle her machine even though we had earlier in 2015 bought her a motor peddle. She is on a good route to recovery but she will not be able to continue on this path because of the scare of future damage.
Margaret now wants to start a small grocery shop in which she can remain a little active and able to earn a living from there. The challenge is that she has not started and there is nothing much I can do for her at this point. It will be much easier for us if she sets her foot on the path and then we can join the struggle.
Harriet L is on the quest to look for a new shop because her time has now run out. Her shop is located in the railway reserve and the authorities have given all residents and occupants of any structures in and around the railway to vacate. They have been given two grace periods and looks like this will be the final notice and everything will be torn down at the end of February or the start of March 2022.
Harriet has to look for another home for her tailoring business before this time. She was lucky to get her request for a boost was approved early last year but all the places she was getting seemed to be at risk as of my observation. We believe in empowering Mama’s but we also want them to be empowered in safe places where their businesses can thrive. All the business spots and shops Harriet presented to me were not viable so I requested her to continue looking.
Otherwise, Harriet is well and a bit relaxed because all her 3 children are in school at the moment. The pressure to look for fees and a business location would be great on her so lifting one off her shoulder surely has given her the energy to continue the search. I will as always keep you all updated if and when she gets a suitable place.
Lilly A’s shop this past week got a power problem. She told me something blew from inside the ceiling and her power supply was cut, probably it was a rat that was eating the wire, we don’t know. I told her to call an electrician most likely a qualified one because we have a tendency here of finding a random repairman to fix some of these problems. Otherwise, Lilly is doing okay, she is loving her new machine as it is faster and better than the old one.
Jane N is doing okay. She has been previously attending poultry classes because she recently got another idea to raise chickens as a backup plan for Francis’s health support program. Jane has a water tank business and the last month has not been bad because the sun was a bit hot so there was limited water at the well. This meant that more people had to come to buy water at her tank unlike when it rained.
Jane and her daughter decided to add poultry to the water business because they have some space, unlike piggery which requires them more space. They got the chicken from a local program at their village headquarters. They were given 50 chicks and by the time I visited they only had 46 chicks left. She hopes to raise and sell these chicks in about 3 months. Jane wants to use this as a pilot program to make a final decision on what project to undertake. Chicks are a bit tricky because they require a lot of time and feeding. The few Mamas in our program who have had chicks always pointed out the difficulty in feeding them. We can only hope the best for Jane and her grandchild Francis. A bit about Francis is that he has hydrocephalus and he is under his grandmother’s care from the time he was just a baby. Jane has been raising him since and we have been trying to work out an independent program to support him ever since.
Asia B is settling back in her market trade slowly. Business is extremely slow and this has discouraged her a bit. She spoke to me for a bit longer than usual expressing the need to leave the country. She may want to go to Arab countries to work. She thinks that it might be her quick fix to her problems at the moment. She currently lives in a one-roomed house with all her 7 children and the market shop is not performing very well to sustain them. Of course, I asked a few questions of concern like where she would leave the kids and she said some of them are old enough to take care of the rest. The problem is that even these old ones are still going to school too so it might be hard to manage this responsibility.
Situations like these are very hard for me because sometimes I don’t have the exact answer and guidance to give. Usually, my interest lies with the kids but also the parents need money to take care of the kids too. She has one too many at the moment so it is also another factor causing her trouble. All I am doing now is to encourage her and other Mamas to look into other business options and see if we can then meet them at this point.
It is always a great pleasure to visit, serve and talk to the Mamas every week. It is always a moment of great learning for me as a person and sometimes it is hard emotionally to listen to some of the stories but the results of the talk always are smiles on their faces. Every one of them always gives us a vote of thanks and best wishes all the time.
Thank you for your continued support and encouragement. We hope that you keep safe in every engagement you have and for those who celebrate Valentine’s Day, Happy Valentine’s Day. We wish you the very best on the week of Love.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society