Greetings to you all,
It has continued to be fantastic here in Uganda as the climate and weather continue to improve, receiving quite a tremendous amount of rain during the last seven days. The farmer’s produce has started showing up from their gardens. In a few weeks, we will have plenty of food.
The fuel prices have started reducing and now some local stations are selling fuel 6000-6150/- Uganda shillings from 6460/- Uganda shillings last week. This comes as a great surprise to me and I hope it can only be better because transportation had become an issue for most of us. When I took a boda boda, I would notice several people standing by the road waiting for public transportation but this drop in prices means that the taxis will reduce their prices and more people will be able to afford them.
Last week, I had several visits with our Mamas and the following are some of the outcomes of our conversation;
Because of love and dedication to education, last month we delivered water purifaayas to some of the schools that our children go to in the effort to provide safe drinking water to children in school. I visited Kisugu Central Primary school where three of our Mama’s daughters go (Rashida) to check on them and see how they use the purifaaya. It looks like they are using it but they had one thing going wrong, in that they were pulling out the ceramic part that actually purifies the water. They had pulled it out of the main container which meant that the filter itself was getting dusty and contaminated. I asked them to wash it and ensure that it stays in the tank at all times unless they have removed it to clean it. Otherwise, the headteacher was very happy to see me again and she said many thanks because over the last week when they opened, they have saved a lot of money by not boiling water for the school.
Last week, we spoke about Dorah A getting her rabbits and we were fortunate enough to find a pair of female rabbits which she is going to use to rebuild from last month’s events when a dog broke into the house. She has reinforced the wooden structure to help improve the security and strength of the structure. Dorah had accumulated 7 rabbits and it was going to be potentially a blowout in business as rabbits give birth monthly. It was sad to see this dream seem to die but we are now back on track as she has 3 females and one male. They will be ready to give start mating in a few weeks so hopefully by December, Dorah will have a full house. She has been struggling with school fees for the majority of this year since the closure of her restaurant but she has now seeming gotten a new direction.
Betty N is doing well. She has added another dimension to her business, sunglasses and is looking forward to adding shoes as the next. This kind of compliments her tailoring because she testified that several customers have come to pick up their dresses and ended up picking a pair of glasses. She now wants to add shoes too so she can try out the market in her area. She said that there are not many shoe stores in her area so she wants to sample and see the response of the community. Otherwise, she is also going to volunteer with a local organization to train vulnerable children in tailoring skills sometime before the year ends. She was contacted by an organization early last month so she awaits confirmation and approval of this opportunity.
Justine N is continuing to do well. I passed by her stall and found her selling some juice to one of her customers. She has found a market with parents taking kids to school so they pass by and buy juice to put in their children’s bottles to take to school. She is saving more by using purified water rather than boiling water which costs a lot of money, time and firewood. I think that this is a good use of her resource to grow her business.
Semmy S is also doing fine. The school has reopened officially and she has sent her three kids back to school already. The soap-making has not yet resumed because she has not received an order from the school yet. I guess they are still sorting out something at the school before they turn their attention to soap delivery.
We were able to ensure that Amina’s daughter goes to school this week because she needed some scholastic requirements, so that was dealt with and she is back in school as we speak. We must keep the girl child in school at whatever cost. Amina had accumulated enough money to pay half her daughter’s school fees but didn’t have enough to buy these materials and the school required them before the student was admitted into the school.
Francoise L is back in business this week as she was able to get business supplies. Two weeks ago her son fell sick but didn’t take him to the hospital until he was very weak. He required immediate treatment so he was taken to the clinic but the attendant could only issue first aid so she had 40,000 shillings on her which she uses to buy her business supplies daily. These include cooking oil, charcoal, maize, beans, onion and salt. Paying the nurse, meant that she had no more money for business and also 40,000/- Uganda shillings was not enough to cover it all. She also wouldn’t continue business and the boy too wouldn’t go to school yet he is in the candidate class. Gladly, this bill was catered for and she got her business back by getting the supplies and ensuring the boy goes back to school.
Margaret N is doing okay. She is back tailoring but on a small scale. She says she tried to do it twice a week because the pain in her foot gets intense if she presses on it for a long. The other thing is that she broke the electric motor belt that helps the machine run so she has to find a replacement. The weather has been good for her as her flowers and garden are being prepared. The water business on the other side is not doing very well because everyone is harvesting as much as they can when the rains fall. She was concerned about the ceramic in her purifaaya but I looked at it to assess the damage and they are only small break-offs that are normal. The water uses some kind of force to come through the ceramic so pieces of dust are falling into the water which is normal as previously explained by Majid the trainer. I told her not to worry but only avoid knocking it on hard surfaces because that would then break the ceramic pot.
Florence A is doing okay with her salon. A customer every now and then but the challenge has come with the chips and snacks business. Over the past few weeks, she has been struggling a bit with the prices of flour, cooking oil, and sugar which she commonly uses in her snack-making process. We can only hope that the price falls in fuel will help reduce the prices of these items in general. Otherwise, the children are well and they are back in school so she can now concentrate on her plans to expand her salon. There has been a hold-up in her cash flow that will surely delay her a bit but she is on course. I like Florence because she is a dreamer, she wants to add more like a traditional clothes segment used in cultural weddings and introduction called Gomesi, Kanzu and Kitaambala. This is a positive direction in helping Florence grow her business and eventually help her kids go back to school.
Irene L is continuing slowly with her business. Her customers are starting to call her to work from their homes which is a better option than those smelly surroundings of hers. Her salon is dreadfully located near the fish market and a sewage trench which means that her salon is always smelly. She started well in the start but the customers couldn’t keep up so they started to move. She is trying to get a new place but in the meantime, we can only hope that the business picks up with these home visits. She has a lot of debts and loans from people and community savings so my hope is that she can turn this one around this time.
It was good to see some of the Mamas pick up their pieces, others take back their children to school and others simply make an effort. It is usually that effort that is combined to determine the progress of a person. I am always glad to simply offer them a word of encouragement and hope because maybe that is what they need. The world has been brutal on many of them and they have no one to believe in them, I have countless times been told to send their regards to you all for believing in them. Most Mamas have been abandoned by their partners with children to raise. I get to experience their struggle first and I want to appreciate you all on behalf of these chaos fighters.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society