Greetings to you all,
Happy New Month. 2022 seemingly started only three weeks ago but somehow it is already May. Happy Eid is the message from our Muslim Mamas Asia, Amina, Rehema and Rashida. All are practicing Muslims and all of them fasted the past month for Ramadan with the exception of Rehema who was undergoing medical treatment and thus was exempt.
The general atmosphere here in Uganda is not getting any better as the economy continues to crash with prices continuing to soar as we enter May. Food has become more expensive and the government has continued to only justify and not try to mitigate the problems. The most dissatisfying thing was the President threw a birthday celebration for his first son who is not only 48 years old but also an army general. It is believed that state funds were used to throw a massive party which was hosted in the National stadium. Anyways, this is not the platform to discuss this but I was saddened by this and so many other poor decisions that our government has made in trying to lead this Nation.
I will start with Amina A. I am not sure why I was excited to see her this past week. Maybe it was the fact that she has managed to keep her business afloat for the 3rd week running. It had been quite a while before she restarted the banana business due to several unavoidable situations. I was so excited to see her yellow bananas put on a pile of bricks from a distance and I felt like she was getting on track completely. We can only hope this goes through to the end of the year because her children will be back in school in about a week.
Christine N. is also back in business. Her chickens look very good. She managed to get 320 chicks two weeks ago and all of them are growing really well. Her plan is to raise these chickens fully this time. The last three batches she got, she would raise them for a month and then sell them off for quick cash. People are more likely to purchase the slightly older ones as they fear to raise the day-old chicks. The problem is that the chicken coop that we helped her build is starting to lose shape because it doesn’t receive enough sun and she has not been using it for the most part. She has promised to rehabilitate it.
Maria A’s piglets are looking really good. The first bunch of piglets turned out so well. They look very healthy. Last week another set of four piglets were born but sadly one was stepped on by its mother and didn’t make it. The remaining three are doing well and they are responding well. Now that she has eight piglets her plan is not to sell but rather to fill the empty rooms that were left behind from the ones that succumbed to swine fever. I was glad to see her back and happy with how her animals are growing. The rains have helped also boost the feeding of both her family and animals, providing sweet potatoes and cassava.
Florence A. is fully back to work but things have changed much quicker than expected as she has temporarily closed her snack business. She explained that the Irish potatoes have increased from 90,000 to 190,000/- per sack of potatoes. Cooking oil has also increased from 6,500 to 9,500/- making it extremely hard to balance her costs of operations and be able to make a living out of it. This has also halted the making of popcorn as it also requires the use of cooking oil. She is now back in the full-time salon business because food is not making any sense. She is going to wait until it normalizes.
Justine N. has been very sick for the last few days. Justine recently had an attack in the middle of the night with pain and paralysis in her right side so she was rushed to the hospital in the morning. She managed to get treatment, receiving several injections a day and two tablets a day. She managed to recover some motion in five days and she will continue with the treatment for about two more weeks. Her children helped out with the market shopping and the day-to-day running of the vegetable stall. I am glad that they have been able to manage the situation and also handle the bills too. This is the kind of empowerment we always hope for, where a Mama is able to remain sustainable during tough times.
Annet N. is struggling at the moment because the business owner of the property on which her tea and porridge business stands wants to kick her off. The business owner’s landlord is asking Annet to make sure she leaves by 10AM. This is when her business actually kicks off – the time when boda drivers stop for a break after the busy shift between 6AM to 10AM delivering food and traders. 10AM to noon is the busiest time and asking her to leave at 10AM is a difficult thing. She is hoping to speak to her landlord more because, on the day, the owner was heated thereby making it hard to have a discussion. In the meantime, she is looking for another option just in case the negotiations fail.
Hadijjah N. is recovering well. Her broken ankle is looking good according to the last doctor’s review. It is not fully healed but the doctor removed the old cast and put a new one on for her. She is looking happier and stronger and reported to me that she has already started making small trips to her roadside business every evening. This chips business revolves around the service provider and not the food. Therefore, even when her sister has been running the business well in her absence, some customers have not been eating as much hence affecting the profit. It has been harder because of the increase in the prices of oil and potatoes. I advised her to make the best decision but also take care of her foot because ankles take a long time to heal.
Rovence N. is doing okay. Her health is improving as her hands are not in so much pain at least not daily or every night. The paralysis comes every now and then but she is able to sleep through the pain most times. She is personally excited because the fasting period has come to an end so she can get back to her old groove in the business. The food has only moved slowly because of the religious fasting periods that went on this April.
Rehema N. is not great but holding up. She has been sick the majority of the time these last two months and actually during my visit, she had gone to receive treatment and her medication. We spoke briefly on the phone and she is optimistic about her recovery and situation. Her son Reagan has taken a dead year from school because the university tuition became hard for them to come by so he is trying to find some small work to do in the meantime so he can go back next year. Rehema continues to do light laundry in her community to raise money and take care of her kids. I have been trying to work with her to find a more sustainable solution for her medical and living situation, as she might not be strong enough to do laundry.
Lastly, I spoke to Dorah, Angel and Margaret. I made a few phone calls to the mentioned Mamas and I will be able to meet them this week in person. Dorah has already returned from the village, Angel is hanging in there because her vegetable stall is not doing very well because of the soaring prices. Margaret had travelled to the village as she had lost a brother a few days ago. She is doing okay herself and will be back to work sooner.
Thank you for always supporting us and following the work we do. It’s always a pleasure to see the Mamas and their families happy through what we do. Happy Eid from all Mamas.
Director of Programs, Uganda.
ISEE Solutions Society.