Greetings to you all,
The month of August has finally ended, and I hope all of you are doing well. Sometimes things are hard or get hard as we live, but I hope we all pull through positively. That is why I never take it for granted that you are okay. I make sure to send you positive feelings each week.
Most of August here has been good, with a lot of rain almost everywhere across the country therefore many farmers have started planting. It will be good to see all farms and gardens along the roads flourishing as we drive by because that is an assurance of food supply. The past seasons have been bad as gardens of maize, beans, and other crops died mid-season due to lack of rain which resulted in crazy prices for all basic foodstuffs like posho, beans, rice and even vegetables which are usually cheaper.
The price of fuel has seemingly stabilized for the last few weeks, even though they remain high, at least they have not increased ever since. We don’t know if the fuel prices will come down again because usually things here especially fuel will increase but won’t go back to what it was before. This makes our economy very tricky sometimes.
Our political climate has not been very bad but also remains unpredictable only that this week, we lost one of the founding leaders of the ruling party. He was a General in the army and he made a few public statements against rioters about 2 years ago which did not go down well with the people. In an interview, he was quoted saying, “…the police have a right to shoot at you, I repeat, the police has a right to shoot you…” On the announcement of his demise, all that was circulating on social media was this particular speech accompanied by laughter and mockery. It is safe to say, do unto others what you want them to do for you, and as a human race, we ought to be kind and mindful in everything we say or do. The world is ours to dwell in, we ought to remain human.
I continued to visit and provide any form of assistance, advice and encouragement to our Mamas as we continue to support them in their endeavours. The following are some Mamas that I visited during the week;
Pulakiseda N. is doing great. Her grocery shop is back looking good with all shelves filled. Her fridge is also well stocked with soda, water and other juices. Therefore, I was able to also get a few groceries for myself from her shop. She also said that her water filter is doing well which means she managed to tighten it very well.
Rehema N. has had quite a fruitful holiday season from her laundry job these last two weeks. It is exciting for me when Mamas take heed to the advice I give to them. She has been struggling to support her kids both in school and at home almost the whole time I have known her but there is one thing I always tell them, to buy one thing at a time. Since the beginning of the holidays, she started buying scholastic materials for her children and by the time of my visit, she had already accumulated enough for all of them. She seemed happy and relieved that at least the kids go back with one less thing to worry about. She will now use the rest of the money she is making to deposit on the school fees so the schools can allow them in.
Rovence N’s restaurant has been slow these recent times, the majority of her customers have dropped off and when they come, they usually have less money. The food prices forced her to increase the price of food by 500 – 1,000/- per plate depending on the food she wanted. These customers are her regulars so often that she can’t refuse to offer them a meal because they are less than 500/- shillings so she intentionally cuts the portion but then they complain. She has also extended her work hours up to 9 pm every evening, especially on weekdays. Otherwise, she is doing okay healthwise and she has continued to hire another younger lady to help at the restaurant.
Jane N.’s process to get a new water supply meter is ongoing and this is a good thing. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the new competition she is having in the village with someone selling water at half the price she charges. The organization that supplies water has been rolling out a new water supply meter that charges much less than what she has and this has been affecting her sales. She made some research and found out that water is now cheaper but she couldn’t upgrade her meter but rather reapply or course under a different name. She has now applied using her child’s name and she will soon have a cheap supply too. She will then run the old meter for a few weeks and then apply for closure before she transfers to the new one. The advantage she has over everyone in the community is that she is the longest supplier of water but also has a 10,000-litre water tank that stores water during periods of no supply.
I further went outside Kampala to meet Sarah N., who rears goats and makes bricks for construction. She is physically incapable to make the bricks so she hires a young man who helps prepare the soil and make the bricks. The bricks rest and dry for a few weeks. When they dry, the bricks are piled into a kiln and baked for about 3-4 days until fully baked. This process hardens the bricks. She has already made about 12,000 bricks which she will bake and sell to raise school fees for the term that starts in a week. The goats are doing well, she has 2 more baby goats in her goat house. The goat house still looks good but might need a few repairs on the ladders that go into the goat house. Her water purifaaya was leaking but I managed to help her tighten it too. It was leaking into the whole house when I got there. They have been putting a bucket beneath and collecting the purified water then putting it in a jerrycan which is not safe.
Things are not looking good for Asia N. as her whole shop is empty and the fridge only has boiled water which costs only 100/- per 500ml, which is a cup full. I imagine how many she has to sell to create a sustainable income to sustain her family. This hardship happens to Asia every time the children return from school for holidays. She has 7 children who spend all their time at school so her business can survive through this time but when the children return for holidays, it strains her business to this level. I am trying to engage her and see what she can do to help sustain her but for now, it is hard to tell.
Rashida S and her business are thriving at the moment. Rashida looks well and happy. All her girls are attending holiday classes at their schools to increase their school performance. The business is looking good and her stall also looks well stocked with all vegetables like tomatoes, onions, bananas, eggplants and other vegetables. She is happy with her purifaaya even though she has carried it to her stall because all of them spend most of the time at the stall even when the kids return from school. She also sells food to a few of her regular customers so she also serves them water from the purifaaya. This is a good way of making good use of her purifaaya to also make her some money.
When I got to Aida’s stall, she had broken off for the day as her chips hadn’t done very well for the day. She had only received a few orders so she decided to call it a day. Otherwise, she is doing well and on such days, she just sits behind the stall and sells some of the vegetables she displays. The water purifaaya just like some of the Mamas was leaking so I was forced to enter her house and help fix the situation. On this note, we had a conversation with Erika and I think I deserve the title, of Senior Tightener Consultant on Purifaayas (STCoP) a job that I have done well for the last couple of weeks. It is usually important for us to ensure that whatever we offer to our Mamas serves the purpose, so we go the extra mile to ensure this happens.
Lastly, I visited Betty but I found her mid way her journey to buy some fabric for her customer so we had a more roadside conversation. She is doing well, her student returned so they have been busy doing a few jobs here and there. She has a few promises from clients and students do so, she is waiting for their communication.
We are delighted to provide these Mamas a chance each time we get an opportunity. Last week, we reported about the loss of rabbits Dorah and we are trying to look for a way of providing Dorah with another pair of rabbits both male and female to help her rebuild her business. We are also looking forward to helping Hamida ger her chicken business going after the construction of her chicken coop. We will continue to look into better ways of supporting Asia in the coming weeks as her situation has continued to look desperate and yet we need her children to be back in school and her business up and running again.
Thank you for always keeping up with us in the work that we do here. We would like to continue to do more, hence the need for your continued support in these tough economic and post covid times. Please support us in anyways that you, spread the word as we continue to build a strong village community of Mamas who in turn create a healthy community of young children through education empowerment. I know some of them are having a hard time but we can’t give up on them, they eventually make it.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solution Society