Greetings to you all,
The month of “love”, like most people call it has come to an end. February is the shortest month in the year as it always has 28/9 days. I have a friend who was born on 29th February and his life in terms of birthday celebrations has been very interesting. I met Mike in 2007-2008 during my last two years of what we call High school here and I think during those two years, he never celebrated his birthday because February ended on the 28th day so he had to postpone celebrations. It was a bit interesting because during all my 17 years of life then, I had never met someone like him so I often laugh and made jokes about his non-existence on the calendar. Looking back almost 10 years, I am grateful that he never took these jokes personally because this was some form of bully-ism.
The month of February has ended on a good note with some good amounts of rain highlighted with some hailstones in the last two rainfalls. The weather and temperatures have continued to improve as the winds have also become cooler than they were in the previous months.
Work has been good this month but only affected a few times by the rains as it caused some cancellation of movements and delays on the road because on two occasions the roads were blocked. The drainage systems are bad on most roads to the water ran over the road making it impassable.
Otherwise, the following Mamas are the ones I was able to interact with during my week of visits and phone calls;
Lilly A. is continuing to do well with her business this week. I was able to visit her and talk to her about her way forward and progress. She is currently working on an order of table cloths for one of her usual customers.
She was also able to make payments and pay for school fees for two of her other children in secondary school. This was a result of the assistance we offered to her and many other Mamas thereby making it more possible to settle the remaining outstanding fees for their children.
She has also resolved to dispose of and sell off her old machine which we replaced with a new one at the end of last year. The disposal will be good because it will also help her create space in the shop but also the fact that she is giving it to another woman who will use it to improve her life.
Lorna K. was also working on a new batch of orders given to her by one of the schools she takes her children to. She is knitting 100 grey and white school sweaters for the school as the first batch. She has not knitted sweaters in a long time as she had been focusing on her restaurant business after a complete struggle of the knitting business during the pandemic.
Lorna like many of the people in the world not only in the Mama Nguvu struggled during the pandemic. She decided to start a restaurant business and has been surviving on the business instead of knitting and tailoring in which she trained. The knitting business has been on-hold since then but has resurrected it this past week and it cost her some money to repair and service the knitting machine we bought her more than 5 years ago. I am only glad she could still put it to use when she needed it.
Lorna’s only challenge at the moment was her sick grandchild Jeremiah who had not been able to go to school for 2 days because he had symptoms consistent with measles. Therefore, they took him to a nearby clinic and he was put on some medication. At the time of my visit with Lorna, he was sleeping in the chair across the room.
Francoise L. has been “surviving” over the past few months as her food business has been struggling a bit. Francoise has been selling boiled maize and beans mix along the railway line down in her home area Namuwongo for more than 6 months now. Though the sales had dropped over the last few weeks, this past week she was able to get a new set of customers who have been clearing all that was left from the day on the rail line. They pass every evening and eat whatever is left. They have also asked her to make contact with them daily as a reminder for them to come to pick it all up.
Francoise has been making up to 10 kilograms of this mix every day and would return 3 – 4 kgs home but for the first time been able to finish a day’s cooking this past week.
Her child Jolly is also completing her training this coming month. When I spoke to her for evaluation, she mentioned that there was this particular technique that was popular but had not been able to do it because the hairpiece was expensive. I decided to help her buy the hairpieces because to be fair enough she needs to learn the best way possible. I am glad to have done it because by so doing we completely empowered her.
Francoise’s grandson Jordan seems to be enjoying school very much, I was able to catch him on his return from school wearing his school uniform. He was so excited and seems to continue to enjoy his school and learning.
Aidah K. is continuing to enjoy her work or job. All the days I have gone to see her, Aidah looks more content with what she is doing with her chips business. This is the place I want to see most of our Mamas. Aidah has been selling daily goals cooking just the amount she can sell every day then closing business for the day. She has decided to use cook oil as her measure platform and when the cooking oil is done, she will stop peeling the Irish potatoes and then finish selling what she has made. This is a good technique and it has worked for her over the last few months. She does not waste her resources and this is a good way to work in business, resource utilization, or maximization for that matter.
Irene L. is continuing to pick herself up every week in terms of business. She has had a hard time the last couple of months beginning from December 2021 with a lot of things going against her including two boda boda accidents. The last one happened on her way back home from dropping off her son at school. Two motorcycles collided and this time she got a few burns from the exhaust pipe but has healed well since then.
The salon is starting to pick up as I mentioned earlier and hopefully, she will be able to sustain herself once again. She is receiving more customers each week and this is good for her. She plans to regain and get herself a place to rent and live because, at the moment, she has to travel a bit to get to her workplace.
Rashida S. is doing well with both her businesses. Her vegetable stall and the charcoal business seem to all be flourishing at the moment. She is very happy with how things are going for her and that is the same place I like to see our Mamas both psychologically and economically happy. The only challenge is that her stall is leaking and she is planning on working on the repair of this but otherwise all is well for her at the moment.
Immaculate M. has not been at her best these last few weeks majorly because her clinic is running out of drugs now and then. This is a bit sad because after we had given her a boost at the end of last year, the business improved and also the fact that she changed her employee because of poor records and financial management. The new lady she brought in has seemed to be better but some of the things are not being accounted for. She is now investigating slowly as she goes to the clinic every afternoon and works for a few hours before heading home. It was unfortunate that the performance has dropped a bit due to lack of resources because she has had to pay more taxes and this is affecting the number of drugs she is bringing into the clinic. Otherwise, everything else is okay, all her children were able to return to school through some employee loan schemes at her formal job and some money she took out of the business. Returning children to school in time in some levels of school is very important so she took out some money from her business and I can’t blame her for this.
I met Semmy S. at her daytime job as a teacher. It was during the children’s resting interval so I had a quick chat with her. The school programs are going on well so far and the good news in this has been that the new Headteacher has allowed teachers to teach and also do business out of class therefore several have started selling snacks to their pupils during break time. Semmy started selling donuts and pancakes out of her class during break time. When the bell goes, she pulls out her bucket of snacks and sells them from just outside the class. This has been seen as a good thing because the school decided to discontinue some of the privileges of the teachers so allowing them to do business seemed like a good way to compensate them.
In other news, Catherine N. Lorna’s eldest child seems to be back in business at the moment. Over the last few years, I have been trying to engage Cathy in active business, and on several occasions, she would stop working without my notice. This time around I decided not to pursue this anymore but recently, Lorna decided to give her some little money to restart her samosa business. Lorna has reported to me that Cathy has decided to quit looking for employment elsewhere and has restarted her business again. The challenge is I can’t raise my hopes in this because we have been down this road and after a few weeks, she will suddenly stop. I will continue to monitor this situation from the sidelines until further notice. Cathy’s son Jeremiah is in school but the burden has been put on her mother Lorna, something we do not want.
When I contacted Cissy N. on phone, she had already moved to the new location as scheduled by the new property owners. The family of her husband decided to sell the property she was on as it was co-owned so they gave her a share from which she built another home for her children and grandchildren. They had to leave before the end of February and when I wanted to go see them, she told me they had moved to another place so we have scheduled another day to meet so I can see where she is.
Another short drop by at Florence A. to see how everything is going as she prepares for her marital ceremonies. We spoke lightly and according to her everything is going as planned. The ceremony is scheduled for April so she has a few weeks of planning to do but I told her that whereas April might sound far, that time tends to fly much quicker than we expect.
Finally, as I walked around the Namuwongo community, I made a quick stop at Rovence’s restaurant and she is generally okay though she continues to suffer from those burning sensations at night.
Thank you once again for following our work this week. It is an honor to keep you all posted on what is going on with the Mamas we support. I look forward to seeing the next group of Mamas and continuing to support them in all forms of ways.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society