Greetings to you all,
I hope that you are doing well. The temperatures are coming down a bit because as for us here, things have improved a bit here and there as the rains have begun to scatter throughout the country. So, the temperatures are reducing and the dust is decreasing too. We have only been hit by a market crisis for onions because most of them or all supplies have run to export all the onions to foreign markets leaving the local markets with almost nothing. This has affected the price of onions where one little red onion goes for 500/- and most homes will need at least two onions to cook a meal.
This week, we were able to complete Lilly’s Silver-fish boost project aimed at increasing and diversifying her income to create sustainability for her business and home eventually.
We went to the fish landing site which is cheaper to buy silverfish. It is usually sold in basins and little buckets. Silverfish are a type of fish that are really small and they have such a strong scent yet are very nutritious for both adults and children. It is one of the most common fish meals prepared by ordinary families around Uganda. It is surprising but when I asked about this type of fish because I had questions about its legality but I was told that in water bodies that carry fish, there are different worlds of fish and therefore silverfish are caught usually at night. We bought 8 basins of silver fish which almost filled a sack. This would be adequate for the start of Lilly’s business.
Last week, I tried to get in touch with Francoise and I failed as she had been very ill to the point of being admitted. She has developed another allergy that also affected her face. Nonetheless, she has brilliantly bounced back and restarted her business. I found her washing her maize in the well. She boils the mazie and mixes it with ash which helps quicken the softening process but also the cooking process too. She boils and lets it cool for a few minutes and then washed it with flowing spring water. Fortunately, the spring is right in front of her house so she doesn’t have to carry it for longer distances. After washing it, she then cooks it together with the beans adding some salt and other ingredients.
I delivered all the reusable sanitary kits I had to Anna Marie and Emma of Yimba Uganda. A local organization that also distributes reusable sanitary kits but also does a lot of skilling (tailoring) for Young Women around the areas of Kampala. They were so excited to receive the kits as they had lost a number of kits through theft at one of the last outreaches they had. It was such a joy to restock their stores and they are excited to plan another outreach in the next few weeks.
I also delivered a good amount to another partner called Margaret who has been very instrumental in teaching and training women in making reusable sanitary kits in and around the areas of Jinja town. She is a Rotarian so she has been doing these outreaches for a number of communities using a lot of the PUL that ISEE has sent her over the years. Last year, we delivered to her an entire roll of PUL which she has almost used up.
During these journeys to deliver stuff, I was able to visit a few Mamas on the way to and from, one being Annet who has set up a very successful business in a village called Mbalala on the Jinja road Highway. She has set up a salon and decor business offering bridal services and all sorts of services including Prom party decor services. Like all other Mamas, she is another we are proud of for stepping out of her comfort and working with us to improve and boost her economic life. All her children have joined schools and one has even joined a boarding school.
Rashida is back after a very long two weeks of illness. She has been admitted and discharged because the doctors couldn’t find what was wrong with her and yet she continued to get worse. She has finally recovered and most importantly back to her struggle/work. She is looking and sounding much better as opposed to the last conversation where she could barely speak even. Her mother who was also ill was able to care for her throughout the entire time. She administered some local herbs which have partially helped her return. It was good to see her. The last time, her daughter was selling off everything in the stall so that it doesn’t go bad.
Jane is also doing okay. The season has not been bad for either Francis or her business as the weather has been friendly for her water-selling business. Francis has been okay though he has not attended his physio for a long time now, she confessed. She then narrated her son’s story who got hit by a boda (motorcycle taxi) last month and has been undergoing treatment, which has greatly affected her income. I don’t know why but most of our Mamas will tend to incline towards local traditional medicine. They took the boy to a local physio who charged them a lot of money and yet the boy was not improving so they withdrew him from the treatment. Otherwise, Jane is well and they are managing the situation on a daily basis.
Salume has had a good start to her business and looks like the soap-making is going to go on well. After her first tutorial with the teacher, she tried one batch all by herself but messed it up. She called the teacher and explained to him what had happened and he corrected her. She had mixed the caustic soda while still warm so she went back and re-did it and now she is flying. She is going to teach her sons how to make it and also ensure that they participate in this whole activity. I was glad when she called me the next day and it had been figured out so I guess we will employ the same technic for Annet who had trouble the last couple of times.
Florence is also doing well. Customers are coming back slowly in the salon but she is also trying to make ends meet with the chips and now peanut butter business. I don’t know if it is a stereotype but I found it hard that as a person from Northern Uganda, with all the businesses she had done, she had not tried a peanut business. It is commonly known as “Odi”. They roast ground nuts and sesame seeds and grind them into a flavorful paste. My personal favorite as I spread it on my bread every morning. She has added this aspect to her business so, I am happy that she keeps trying. We had a small chat when she sent her regards saying that she can’t imagine we had been with her this long, right from when Angel her daughter in the picture above was less than one year old. She recalls the day when the ISEE team walked through the slums where she lived at the time to deliver salon equipment to her home. It attracted a lot of attention for her but it has changed her life greatly. Florence was left alone to raise her two children with nothing in the house but has managed to build a business and is educating both her children all by herself. Now, she is married and has a new baby boy.
Pulakiseda is also doing incredibly well for herself. There is a lot of work to do with her business as she wishes but she has been able to manage her boost and business really well. She is very hard-working and innovative. We have worked with her from having a grinding machine, to grocery shop, to cold beverages (fridge) and now to another boost. It is a pleasure to work with all these Mamas as all have been unique in their abilities.
Thank you for supporting us, Salume with her soap and Lilly with her silverfish. I look forward to my next visits as I also prepare to set up Amina with a different type of soap business. This time around, she will be buying and reselling to her local community at more affordable prices and quantities.
Director of Programs, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society