Happy Family Day! I just wanted to let you know that the 2021 tax receipts have been mailed and should be arriving before the end of the month. Please let me know if you have not received yours by the beginning of March. Thank you again for your support last year. – Erika
Greetings to you all,
I hope that you are well.
The weather has surely become better and we might surely start to embrace the new season and perhaps start to plant. Movement has become more interesting for me because it is not as hot as it used to be. I am sure our animal farming Mama partners are enjoying the new weather. The previous weeks and months had been hard for them because the alternative feeding option, which was from the gardens, was low due to the very sunny condition.
This past week, I was able to visit and talk to several Mamas and the following is what transpired:
The week started with good news as Maria A., one of our Mama who does piggery, welcomed another grandson. Like many of our Mamas, Maria has the blessing to have grandchildren and this past weekend, she received another boy but this also came with a few small challenges. The daughter was not able to deliver so she ended up in C-section where it came with an extra cost. She took the courage to call me because if she didn’t, they would end up paying more because failure to raise the money quickly meant they would have to stay longer in hospital and each stay attracted another cost. We then sent money to Maria and they were released from the hospital that very day.
In this whole event, one of the decisions she made was to sell two of the largest pigs on her farm but the money was not enough. She wanted to sell the other two smaller ones but I advised against it. This is because they were small and they would not offer her as much so I opted that allowing her some medical emergency funds would help mitigate the problem. Maria will eventually have to repay these funds because this allows us to intervene for another Mama if there is another issue.
Rovence N. is doing just fine with her restaurant because the business is starting to pick up as children are all back into school. She had a significant drop in business in January 2022 because children were going back to school so her customers were not eating as much. I guess school returnees affect many, if not all parents. She is lucky that at the moment, all her kids are out of school and one of the two has made a personal decision not to return to school. This decision perhaps comes from the fact that he finished Secondary level education. This allows him to start school whenever he is ready to return. Rovence said that during his lay off as he was waiting for his Leavers Certificate, he got a job and he was starting to earn some money. This is one of the challenges most youth face right after secondary school. They tend to get some jobs which make them earn some money and when this happens, they often discontinue school. The little money they earn tends to cloud their judgment so most youths stop at this level.
Otherwise, Rovence herself is okay though she still has burning sensations in her palms every night. She said that the pain has refused to go away so most nights she will wake up in the middle of the night and cry herself back to sleep because regular pain killers are not working well. Nonetheless, she continues her business to cook and she has now hired one of her younger sisters to cook while she takes a small break from direct heat.
Florence A. shared with me some good news this past week. She will be introducing her boyfriend to her parents in April. She has been separated from her former partner for more than 5 years now. We met Florence just after the separation as she applied for her salon business in 2015. She has been raising her two children all by herself ever since. She met this gentleman a few years ago and they have been progressing slowly. They have now decided to take matters to the next level. Of course, I was curious so I asked a few questions and he has been very involved in her life too so I was happy to hear that.
The business has been doing well and she has been able to expand her business and create different businesses as the years went by. She added snacks like popcorn, rice balls, ice, and later chips. The chips business has been a huge support to her family as it has managed to be very sustainable more than the rest. Through the chips business, she has been able to save up, send her kids to school and also buy a few things to support her business. On top of this, she has also managed to pay her previous loans.
Betty N. is doing just fine at the moment. The business is really slow for her at the moment as she has no tailoring students so she is surviving on the few tailoring orders she has been getting from her clients.
Otherwise, she is okay and her family is doing fine. She was not part of the school beneficiary group because she has decided to do homeschooling for all her kids. She uses some of her time off and breaks to teach the children different topics.
Jennifer S. has had a good January and February because schools are back in business so she had many parents coming to buy shoes. She is also happy that her boy also was able to get into a relatively good school because his grades were not the very best but she was happy with the school she got. Otherwise, she is doing very well and her family is doing well too.
Rehema N. has been having a good season as she has had a lot of laundry jobs to do these past few weeks. She has saved some money during this season so I am happy for her. She has also managed to visit her daughter in boarding school and has taken her a few things that they did not give her when we took her to school.
I have been following up on Asia B. for the past few weeks because she has been having trouble with her shop and wanted to close. Asia has been thinking about leaving the country to go to the Arab world to find a job and be able to care for her children. My major problem is that she will not have anyone to take care of the children. Whereas she has older children, they can’t care for the rest of the younger ones and as a matter of fact, the younger ones are 5 of the 7 children she has. Therefore, our level of concern has been to ensure that she stays in the country so I have been trying to assess the different options of business we can pursue at the moment.
Pulakiseeda N. continues to do well with her grocery store. I went to her this week to buy my usual foodstuff for the month because I had run out of my sugar, rice, peas, and vegetables.
Sarah N. is stabilizing with her goats after losing one of them this past month. The rains have returned so the grass has responded very fast and this is going to be good for the goats. She has also been able to make bricks this season because she uses these bricks to supplement school fees payment for her children. She has been aiming at 12,000 bricks and she has reached just over 10,000 bricks so she will soon be hitting her mark. Most of them dried during the sunny season so she is excited that the rains returned just in time. She will then pile them into a kiln and burn them in a few weeks. The burning and baking take a few days so we hope that the rains will not be a lot to affect the burning and baking process because they tend to break if they don’t bake well.
Justine’s season has continued to improve over the last few weeks as people are continuing to gather for different reasons and celebrations. Justine owns a vegetable stall but also owns a large saucepan hire business that hires saucepans to people who cook food at gatherings like weddings, funerals, and other celebrations. The government reopened the economy and allowed more people to attend parties and gatherings but of course, observing standard operating procedures. The removal of the restrictions meant that people in the businesses that involved gatherings were free to operate and Justine has been in business since then. Each week the saucepans are out two to three times so business has been good.
The week has not been very eventful except with Maria’s and Florence’s situations. It is always an honor to celebrate life and love at the same time. I am glad that I was able to meet and speak to some of our Mamas. I look forward to yet another wonderful week with other Mamas including Amina who I am following up on another business venture. Over the last couple of months, we have been working together and speaking about different options but nothing has stood out for her so she will continue to think about other options.
On behalf of the many thanks and conversations I keep having with the Mamas, I would like to convey their greatest form of gratitude to all of you who have supported them and continue to care about them. They are always sending you the best of wishes.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society