Greetings to you all,
I hope you are all doing well. I know it has been a bit hot all around the world but we have had a few scattered showers across Uganda over the last few weeks.
The economic atmosphere has continued to stabilize mainly because we have not had any price changes, especially in the petroleum industry as the prices of gas have remained stable these last two weeks, yes it is high but no increases in the prices of gas. This is no better than the past months but stable enough for us to remain operational. There are still widespread economic hardships amongst the majority of the population as food prices are surely a bit high for common foodstuffs like posho and beans costing 3600/- and 4,000/- respectively. This means that for most families here it will require up to 10,000/- a day for one meal depending on how big the family is.
In other news, there has been an increased overwhelming response of joy and gratitude over the water purifaaya project as most Mamas are so happy about how they are working. This past week, I was able to visit several Mamas to generally see how they are doing and encourage them in any way possible but their first statement has been, “banange, mwebale nnyo ensuwa zzaffe..” which translates to “my dear, thank you for our pots (purifaaya)”.
It has been nice to see that all the Mamas have had a positive response and given positive feedback towards the use of these purifaayas. They have only had a few challenges in tightening them at the bottom of the tap but with the help of their older children, they have tightened them and no leaks have been reported since. The organization that sold them to us has also been good to the Mamas making phone calls to them and providing remote assistance to them.
My first goals last week were to ensure that all the Mamas who didn’t attend the group training got their purifaayas and also received one on one training from me;
Anna M has just returned from her doctor’s appointment about her leg which is doing so well now as she has started walking without a stick, applying more weight on it and strengthening it. She looks more happier and lively during the visit. She had also gone with her two boys to see the doctor for some minor checkups. We had a little chat and took a few pictures, then we assembled the purifaaya as I delivered the tutorial on how to maintain and keep it clean. She was really excited about it and thanked us for helping her save time and resources on boiling water. Her boys are very active and they drink a lot of water as they tend to spend a lot of time playing.
Annet C is another Mama who hadn’t received her purifaaya so I went to Mukono where she works and delivered her purifaaya. She was very happy and excited to see it. She asked me what it was and I explained it to her as we assembled it in front of her salon. I told her how it works and she was so happy to receive it. This has been one of the best things we have availed to the Mamas since the business and Christmas packages we offered the last two years. It is good to see these wonderful women happy while they continue to struggle to sustain their families. Most of them have nursed children suffering from malaria and typhoid over the last several years from the time we met them. They spend a lot of money treating their children and sadly most of them can’t even afford a full dose of medication so the children keep falling sick.
I also visited Amina A. She is doing well. Her chapati business is still sustaining her, looks like it has been a better improvement from the banana business that was going down because of the prices of transport. This is the 5th week that she has been doing the business, making about 4 kilograms of baking flour on a daily basis. This has provided her with some bit of money which she has used to majorly clear fees for the children and also buy food at home. The only challenge here is the next step of growing the business. She absolutely loves her water purifaaya and says it has helped them save a lot of money on charcoal to boil water. Her son usually returns from school late in the afternoon very hungry and tired so he drinks a lot of water because he walks for about 4-5 km.
Hamida N is rather still on a standstill because the gentleman supposed to build for her the chicken coop has taken his sweet time. The only positive thing he did last week was to buy bricks for the project. This has delayed her chicken business for longer than she anticipated. On the other hand, she insisted that I entered her house to show me her beloved water purifaaya. Just like Asia, Jane and many other Mamas, Hamida has quite a number of children which makes feeding and maintaining them hard so being able to greatly cut costs on boiling and ensuring water is safe for drinking is a big deal. She refills the water purifaaya every other day, meaning they drink up to 30 litres of water in two days. Most families here have a saucepan that is used to boil water and most of these pans are just about 5 litres big. This means that boiling water is another project in itself.
Dorah A on a sad note lost 5 rabbits a few weeks ago when the neighbour’s dogs broke into her rabbit house and ate them. The neighbour usually releases his dogs at night but this one night they crawled out of the fence and went into Dorah’s compound eating 5 of the 7 rabbits she has accumulated. Dorah had had challenges with the first batch of bunnies that died a few days after birth due to poor nursing habits. She decided to intervene and feed the bunnies milk on the second occasion which helped them survive but due to the reckless behaviour of the neighbour, she lost another batch of rabbits in an unfair manner. Luckily two of them ran and hid so the dogs were not able to get them, the following morning she went to the neighbour to report the incident, he said he would go and see her that evening but he has never appeared. It is sad that some people are not sympathetic to this level that even with the amount of wealth they have, they can’t compensate people like Dorah who are breeding rabbits to help their families. Otherwise, she is also happy for the purifaaya she got, she too has 5 children and these kids were going through the pot of water in no time. Having an abundant supply of water has been very helpful since the kids are back for the holidays.
Florence A is doing well most recently. The business has miraculously picked up over the last few weeks. Previously, she had been struggling with her chips and snacks business but things have since turned around and this is good for her. She seems and looks very happy at the moment, it looks like life is getting better for her and also her kids are back from school.
Lorna K is doing very well. The restaurant business has surely provided her with a lot of financial liberation as she is cooking more and everything is looking okay. The samosa business is also doing well. They can afford food and fees for Jeremiah her grandson but also for the two secondary school-going boys.
Margaret N is doing okay too. Her leg has continued to heal much better as there is less pain and movement has greatly increased. She was happy to receive a letter from her friend last week. Business is still on hold for her but we keep tabs on her to see how she is doing and when she is ready we will see the way forward with her tailoring trade. She is still selling water at her home in the meantime and she is hosting some of her grandchildren for the holiday season.
Semmy S has broken off from the school term, so she is back in her holiday tutorial or coaching work for her students on holiday. The soap business went well during the term as she supplied the school with liquid soap during the term. Her children are back home too, so she is busy with her own children too. She was one of the Mamas who were grateful because her children were drinking so much water that even when it was still hot after boiling it, they would attempt to drink it. This option of the purifaaya has given her such a sense of relief in this respect.
I had the opportunity to talk to Jolly Brenda, Francoise’s daughter who we are trying to see if we can support her with a salon venture many months after receiving training at a local salon. She has been doing well with her trade, doing more of a mobile shop around the community braiding customers’ hair from their homes. She has also been good at helping her mother at home with her maize and beans business, helping to cook and sort the dirt out of the beans and maize before cooking. We also thought about helping her work with another Mama Irene to own a joint salon business but this is also going slowly because of some administrative differences in the business. We would like that they use the same business space but manage their own clients their way. I spoke to Irene about the same initiative because she has been struggling with her businesses over the last few months majorly because of locational issues. Irene’s location is poor as it is near a gutter and a fish market so they stench so bad that most customers have opted for other salons. Our idea is to help provide these two with a good location so they can independently run their business while contributing equally to the rent. This will solve a problem for two people looking for the same thing, a good location.
It has been a wonderful week with such a great response to the purifaaya project. All the Mamas are so grateful for this support and equipment. Your thoughtfulness and care for the Mamas are greatly impacting the lives and families of the Mamas here. This might look like a small project but more than 30 families and schools are providing themselves with clean water for drinking therefore saving a lot of money on treatment and boiling water.
Director of Programs, Uganda.
ISEE Solutions Society