Greetings to you all,
I hope that you are all doing well. This week, I didn’t do very well as I caught Malaria fever and strep throat. I was eventually put on medication for 2-3 days straight but the strep throat is what took a bit long as I found difficulty in swallowing anything. It affected my work but I managed to pull through it all and visited a few of our Mamas.
Amina A. has been struggling for over six months but about two weeks ago, she was able to restart her banana business and has been doing just okay. This week, I visited her and she was not only selling her yellow bananas but has also been involving herself in chapati making since the Muslims started their fast. Amina’s house is just next to a mosque and usually these mosques provide people fasting with food and she was taking advantage of the opportunity. She was really happy so I am happy for her.
Justine N. is also enjoying her new business acquisition of a fridge selling popsicles and one of my favourite local juices of pineapple, ginger and tea leaves. It is usually boiled together and it is left to cool then put in the fridge and served chilled. She has allowed another local lady who has taken over the deep-frying business and pays Justine a little stipend for using her site but then sells the snacks for her on her vegetable stall.
Irene L. has finally found a home for her children. She had been sleeping at her sister’s home for a while because Irene had been evicted from her house during the lockdown days. She left her sister’s house after her kids had gone to school and started living in her very small salon space with her last born son. The salon is located just outside the marketplace and this area is not very friendly for children of any age. This week she managed to get a house and will prepare to receive her other three children. Otherwise, she is well and has also been busy building her skills and also was able to get certification allowing her to own a salon in Kampala. Her youngest shared with me his report because he remembers me on the day we took him back to school.
Asia B. is also back in full business swing with her fridge properly working. She looks more focused now on her business and this good. Things had become difficult for her over the last several months and she wanted to opt-out and go look for employment in the Middle East. She has now also added a few cartons of Soda, water and juice to her stock as a way of boosting her business.
Jane N. water tank one is doing well. She recently became a volunteer for the village health team and has been helping vaccinate and promote this exercise in her community. This was good to hear as she is the second Mama to participate in this exercise of community service just like Lorna K. Otherwise, she is well and the business is doing well. I was also glad that she supplies water to a nearby school and on the day, I was able to witness pupils come to fetch water and it gave me so many memories as a child. Her chicken business is also doing well. This time she got croilers and these take longer to grow but they give better returns because they are bigger.
I received a quick update on the progress of Peter Kiwanuka’s React Now and Save Young Mother’s construction project as things continue to take shape. About a week ago, they were digging the foundation tunnels and this week he sent me a picture of the foundation finished and covered with rocks. Looking forward to seeing more of this progress as he continues to source funds to build a vocational training school for his community.
Last but not least, I made a quick drop by to see Rovence and her restaurant. She said that she was stable given the fact that the fasting season is still on. She has been cooking less but then cooks tea and porridge in the afternoon because Muslims here like to break their fast with porridge and tea.
This week, I was blessed to attend the introduction and wedding ceremonies for Florence A. I had been talking about these for the last few weeks and it finally happened. I was invited on behalf of ISEE Solutions Society.
The celebration started on Friday with Nelson (fiancé), along with 7 people (friends and families), visiting Florence’s relatives at her Uncle’s home to negotiate and pay the dowry. The groom arrived on time but had waited for over an hour as Florence’s family did the final touches on the decor and tent. During this time, Florence too was applying final touches on her makeup and the dresses she was wearing on the day.
After about an hour, the family was ready to host the groom who walked in under a glorious cheer. They sat them in their designated sitting area and gave them a drink as they waited to be told what next. Moments later, a smaller team of negotiators from the groom’s side were invited into the house to negotiate. This took more than 2 hours as we sat and waited because nothing was going to be done unless these two teams agreed on the dowry. They were negotiating on items like how many cows and goats the groom was paying and how much money he was to pay so that Florence’s father would let the two get married.
This type of ceremony is carried out by most of the tribes and cultures of Uganda just before the white wedding is done. It is a requirement that the couple presents a letter from the guardians of the girl accepting that these two to get married.
The two teams reached an agreement and immediately a feast was served to all the people who attended the function. As opposed to many ceremonies, Florence’s ceremony had less than 50 people attend it. This made lots of things simpler except for the negotiations which were a bit complicated. After the negotiations and feasting, the groom was later presented to the attendees who cheered and applauded. They danced and sent them off because the following day was the wedding so both teams needed to rest but the other attendees were allowed to party through the night.
On Saturday, the wedding was scheduled to take place at exactly 11:30 am but the bride’s dress had not been picked from the dry cleaning on time so this delayed Florence for a while. The dress reached just before 10 am so the makeup had to be rushed but luckily, it was done well and Florence was very excited as everyone else was. They were driven less than 10min to the local church next to where they spent the night. When we arrived, the church was well organized and decorated so Florence walked in straight away because the groom and his team had already arrived at the church. Florence, dressed in a white gown with her mother holding her hand, walked in and sat opposite the groom. The pastor officiating the ceremony prayed and kick-started the ceremony with a few songs and other formalities. The couple was later asked to draw closer to the altar and Florence was accompanied by her brother because he is the one who represents the dad when giving out the bride.
After the exchange of the vows, just like all church weddings, a sermon was delivered and like most pastors in Kampala, they tend to go off-topic a bit and this one didn’t disappoint as he just did exactly that. Anyways the couple was welcomed to sign the certificates and a photo moment was allowed so I took advantage of it too. The couple was later allowed to go out and take pictures as the church was going to be used as a reception hall. The location that was chosen for the pictures was not the best as it is located on a very busy road and secondly that place hosts lots of weddings. They came back from the photoshoot almost 1.5hours late so everything was delayed.
As is when the couple entered the reception, a lot of music was played as the couple along with their entourage entered to take their seats. The church hall was decorated very beautifully.
When they sat down, of course, the speeches started and the first three speeches (which included mine) ended in less than 10 minutes so the MCs were so excited. Now if you have attended a Ugandan wedding, you will know this is unheard of but guess what, when the pastors were asked to give theirs, you can guess what happened. Each at least spoke for about 25-30 minutes. This delayed the occasion more but my highlight of the ceremony was how they fused two separate cultures and celebrated them both successfully. It was a beautiful ceremony, with a beautiful bride and she was kind enough to gift ISEE Solutions Society with a cake which I received on behalf of all of you. In her speech, she thanked all of us for the part that we have played specifically in her life but also the lives of the other Mamas in the project.
Director of Programs, Uganda.
ISEE Solutions Society