Incredibly, time flies faster than we are always ready. This is because we seem to put a timeline on everything that we want to do so there is always some kind of pressure to achieve.
I hope that we are all doing well and if you are having challenges, we send you our most positive thoughts to help comfort you in these times and we hope for the best for you.
The situation here has continued to improve in some economic aspects like fuel has significantly reduced over the last few days, especially the local station but the popular ones are reacting slowly. This has not affected the issue of food prices like sugar is now 5000/- a kilo, posho(maize flour) has almost doubled to 3600/- from the usual 1400-1600/-. The items most used at home have become incredibly expensive and the ordinary Ugandan is finding it hard to balance life here.
Another issue that has befallen us here is the issue of the Ebola virus. There has already been at least 35 infections reported and seven deaths, two of whom were medical workers. The president has given a state of the nation address and has emphasized that there will be no lockdown yet but people were urged to be more vigilant during these times. Last week, we had seven people suspected to have the virus decide to escape from one of the medical facilities. Ebola is not like Covid because it is not airborne but rather more of a contact disease so the problem is that these escapees spread the virus amongst the communities they run to. Ebola killed many people in Africa in the early years of 2000 so it has the potential to become yet another crisis if not managed properly. I took a day off when the first case was reported in my area. The positive side of the matter is that the same Covid prevention measure can somewhat help protect us from Ebola so I continue to sanitize, social distance, avoid unnecessary physical contact, and wear my mask.
Our work continued as usual as we can’t seem to put our feet off the peddle because our Mamas need constant support. The following are some of the visits I was able to make:
We were able to get Asia back in her stall but now making tea and porridge for the market vendors. She was able to get the items needed to start and kick-started her business because, at this time, it was important to have her back in the game. I kept on checking on her every single day of the week to see to it that she takes this opportunity more seriously. It is a new start for her so a lot of follow-ups are required at this time. If it all goes well, she might add another component of selling sweets to increase her income.
Lorna K is doing well for herself at the moment and the restaurant is continuing to support them. The only challenge is that the wind last week blew over their chapati display case and it fell, breaking the glass. They have not yet repaired the box but at least the chapati making has continued and she says that the case will surely be fixed soon. The continuity of the business usually is the biggest issue when it comes to small businesses like these because the effects of closing for a day can be far-reaching. Her grandson Jeremiah continued to go to school so that is a good thing.
Betty N is doing well with her tailoring and I have seen her a lot lately doing social media marketing for what she is doing on her WhatsApp status. These statuses are usually viewed by friends who sometimes are good marketing prospects for businesses such as these. I am glad that she is using the technology platform to market her service. She continues to train her student who has been with her for more than a year now and she has become more like a partner so Betty can train her and pay her.
Florence A is doing well this season. The salon is slow but the chips business is doing okay. She has plans to expand her good business. More than a year ago, we helped her start a salon business in a room that she divided for business and living. She has since gotten married and the business has grown significantly and added chips selling, snacks, and popsicles thereby a need to expand. The children are back in school although different schools as it had become a bit expensive so she put them back into a day school. Her daughter had become ill at school plus the boy was struggling so it was easier for her to bring them back close to home.
Francoise L is continuing to do well with her food business and has managed to pay the medical bill she owed to the local clinic. She also managed to keep her son Robert who is in a candidate class in school so he can finish this level, he is remaining with this as his final term. This has presented one challenge her grandson Jordan misses school and was not attending school. Jordan is a very smart kid and on many occasions both Francoise and Jolly, her daughter has mentioned this. I made sure that he attends the next day and he is now back at school. Children like him and many others can’t be ignored because they have such a bright future ahead of them.
Irene L is still pushing on with the salon. Customers are still few but nothing to do. She has not yet gotten another shop to relocate the salon. She has taken quite a few loans at the moment to keep the kids in school so they are in school as she figures out the next course of action.
Lilly A is doing okay. The business is surely slow at the moment as people are not yet ordering tablecloths but she is hopeful that we are drawing closer to the festive season and this is usually the prime time for her business too. Phillip her last-born son is attending school so that is a good thing. The older son is also in school and she has managed to make a few payments for him so this is good.
Angel N is also doing okay with her vegetable stall. The rains have aided the return of most vegetables but not tomatoes. These have become very expensive. They are one of the most common ingredients used in cooking in Uganda and their scarcity usually affects the prices and let alone the cooking process. Otherwise, other vegetables like eggplants, cabbage, carrots and others are still in plenty so their price is relatively lower.
Salume S the teacher has started making liquid soap as the school has now started ordering liquid soap to facilitate hand washing again, especially with this newer virus at hand. Schools and other facilities are reinforcing handwashing again. This helped her to pay some of the school fees for her two big boys who are in secondary school.
Finally, I made a remote follow-up via phone trying to reach out to Prossy but her phone was not available so my mission this week is to seek her physically. It has been a while since I last caught wind of her so I would like to know how the pigs are doing and how she is doing too after her loss.
I reached out to Anna M and she is doing very well with her foot healing. Margaret last time had an issue with one of her properties her husband left but has since managed the situation. Someone vandalized the house and cut down the trees so she went to the police and reported it.
Hamida N has not made any progress on her chicken coop so I encouraged her to continue and find whatever she needs to find so we can submit her proposals.
Thank you for the continued support and encouragement, keeping up with us as we continue to serve this community of Mamas along with their children and families at large. There is still work to be done here and there to stabilize Asia, Dorah, Irene, and many others. Therefore, we still need your support and encouragement as we transform the lives of one Mama at a time.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society