ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

Interview Series: Christine Nambogga, farmer

Christine Nambogga

I was born in the mid 80’s in a village called Masuulita outside Kampala. I grew up in a not so well to do family and we grew up doing subsistence farming. I am married and I am blessed with 5 beautiful children, 4 girls and 1 boy. My husband does casual jobs and I am a trained teacher.

I was fortunate to get an education, unlike some of my siblings. I went to various schools attending the basic levels of  Primary, Secondary and later I joined Makerere University where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts with Education. Graduating in the Teaching Profession and I got my first Job in 2011, teaching at a secondary school.

My working life was not easy as I was not paid well because it was a village and private school. I would barely meet my needs but I survived. These private schools in villages usually don’t pay as much as town schools but I had to find something to do, so I stuck there for a while. I was paid 130,000UGX (~$45CAD) a month as salary. Luckily I was not married so this money was utilized adequately and I managed to save up a bit. Fortunately or unfortunately I got pregnant a year after graduating and this increased the pressure and strain on the salary. 

When did you meet ISEE Solutions Society?

I met ISEE Solutions in 2019 when they visited one of our community schools, where two of my children attend pre-school and Primary school. One of their teachers came to our homes telling us about visitors who were coming the week after. She told us just a little — that they support women in starting business — so immediately I got interested.

Surprisingly when we arrived they took us through a sanitary kit presentation and later handed us reusable (sanitary kits). Then (they) gave us forms or applications that we filled in and handed in later. It was like a double blessing when I got the sanitary kit and also got selected for interviews and later funded the project I had applied for. 

A few days later, I received a call from Andrew who started on the purchase of all items I had asked for from chickens, feeds and even some medicine if I remember. He individually walked with me to purchase and book the chicks that I needed to start.

I really thank ISEE Solutions for the opportunity because they helped me get my first batch of chicks in 2019, because at that time I had no chickens at all. They also helped me buy some building materials to help me finish the poultry house I had at the time. At the end 0f 2019, they helped me build a double storied animal house with the chickens up and the pigs on the ground floor. This was one of my happiest moments because I have always loved rearing  pigs before but they were poisoned because they would escape and destroy people’s gardens.

My whole life was changed from the very first batch of chickens that I got which produced so many eggs every week that I had up to 9-11 trays of eggs to sell. I was able to save money on the side and even joined a local womens’ community saving program that enabled me to get a small piece of land.

I was one of the few local people who didn’t struggle much during the lockdown because I was able to afford food and the support I got from ISEE Covid funds was to basically help me feed the animals. This was because the chicken feed became a bit expensive because of the lockdown but I am happy to say my family was able to (eat) all the days and (eat) adequately.”

Challenges

The first and main challenge has been animal or chicken disease. These birds easily fall sick and sometimes it is hard to actually treat them. I have lost many birds this year even after I hired vets to come home to see them. 

The ever-fluctuating maize or corn prices make it difficult in planning for feeds. I have planned and gone to buy chicken feed more than 4 times, planning to get 100kgs of feed only to come back with 85-90kgs of feeds. 

The other thing is the customers book for chicks and they delay picking them up. Now my birds are supposed to be sold after a month, this ensures that the customers and chicks are ready for transportation. The price I sell them is just enough to cover the basic cost so picking them on time is important, but some wait for a week later and they still pay the same price. Now raising chickens is not easy because they eat a lot as they get older.

Then finally my greatest challenge was at home. The plot of land we live on is currently owned by my husband and he has not been as supportive as I had hoped. Towards the end of last year, he wanted to put some of my projects on hold because he thought I was making a lot more money than him. He started stopping me from making adjustments or expansions that I needed to give the animals a good environment to be able to give me the best yields.

Future goals

One of my future goals involves me buying my own piece of land to enlarge my farming practice. I love animal farming and it has helped me achieve a lot of things in my life lately. It has helped me increase my earnings and helped me move from my small-paying teaching job. 

I want my business to be able to produce eggs weekly, chicks weekly and then at least every month have a pig to sell to ensure sustainability. By having these sales I will be able to buy feeds for both the chickens and pigs but also be able to ensure that my kids have good clothes on their backs, school fees for my kids. I want to be able to buy a car and drive in the future too.

I want to ensure that all my kids get the education they need and be able to attain the highest level of education they can.

I also want to build my own house in the near future. I am trying to save as much as I can from my womens’ saving community group. This will help me buy a plot of land and also build my own house so that I don’t have to deal with the troubles of my husband.

I want to be recognized as one of, if not the, best farmers in my district. I want to be an example to many of the women out there that we can be good farmers and we can succeed in this practice. It doesn’t matter what profession it is, we can always change our fortunes.

Finally I really like to thank ISEE Solutions for helping me get my business, for supporting me through the hard times when I had problems with my husband. Andrew used to check on me every week to see how and what is going on. This moral support helped me know that ISEE Solutions cares for us all. 

I believe that my success is going to come and I would like to encourage fellow Mamas and all women out there, that we can make it if we stay courageous, work hard and stay focused on what we want to accomplish. I have a business of my own and my dream is to continue as long as life lets me.

Interview  by Andrew Echel

Easter Update 2021

Greetings to you dear readers,

I hope that you are all doing well. I personally was okay until last weekend as I caught another cold and cough that slowed me down a bit. The first days as you might know are hard and also the weather didn’t help at all as it rained for almost 7 hours on Tuesday. I failed to get out of the house so I turned to my in-house chores and worked from home too. Lucky for me tomorrow is a public holiday as Easter break starts on Good Friday. I don’t have plans yet but we’ll see, maybe I will go on an expedition. Anyways I am well now and back to work. I visited 5 of your Mamas; Christine N., Rashida S., Semmy (Salume) S., Gertrude N. and Margaret N.

Christine feeding one of her pigs

{note: Andrew recently did an interview with Christine and once it is edited and formatted it will be published here sometime over the weekend. -ed}

The vaccine is here already like I told you previously but for Ugandans, it’s as though it has never arrived. Many people have refused to go take the vaccine claiming that Ugandans have strong immunities and the virus will not affect us. The government has now stopped or reduced the restriction on who can get them to anyone who wants to get the vaccine. In our first 3 weeks only 35,000 people had received the vaccine. This is where some of us will take the opportunity and take the vaccine before they start selling it.. The challenge is that most Ugandans will not take these free things seriously because they think it may not be good so the government may at one point start selling it to the public to encourage them. I shall not wait for this; immediately after I heal from my cold and cough,  I will make my way to the designated hospitals and ensure I get my dose.

Gertrude in front of her new stationery shop

This week I was lucky to finally get the chance to see Gertrude’s shop. She was able to find a good place located near the university and she will be sharing the shop with her brother who operates a salon. They have decided to share the place to be able to meet the rent requirement and these two businesses might also be able to compliment each other. The space does not look as big but she also does not need the biggest place to operate her stationery. The only challenge she shared with me was that since the shop is on the road, she is not yet sure about the security part of it because no one will be sleeping at the salon. This put the business items at a risk but let us hope for the best.

Margaret in front of her home

Margaret N. is still not very well healthwise as her foot still hurts a bit and also her business has officially closed at the moment because her sewing machine table broke.  During the previous times she had been teaching one of her daughters how to sew and it was a good thing, I thought. She is still struggling a bit with the losses in her family and has been trying to get herself together but the journey is still long. She told me that the nights have been harder for her because that is when the thoughts come in, majorly because there is nothing much to do. We will have to give her more time and maybe when she is back we will see what to do with her business.

Rashida

I met Rashida S. and she is doing incredibly well especially with her charcoal business but faces some challenges with the vegetable stall. This is why we like supporting Mamas with side businesses because they help compliment the other segment of the business. The season is not good for vegetables as it had been hot this past month so the produce was not coming in especially tomatoes. They have been incredibly expensive, so much so that I have had to cook with one tomato instead of the two that we use ordinarily. 

Semmy (Salume)

Finally I was glad to meet Salume S. who had been hard to find previously because of the different things she has been trying to involve herself in. Salume is a trained nursery school teacher and since their section has not been opened, she has been out of business. She tried tailoring for some factories producing face masks and that has since died because the orders had reduced. She moved on to selling juice around her village or community and that too has been halted by these new rains. She is not back to her profession of teaching but is now coaching pupils at her house. She has four students who come to her house daily. She in return charges them for the coaching and this is how she has been going by recently.

I want to thank you for always following and for your encouraging feedback. We appreciate you all. Stay safe, Stay Sociable and maintain Social distancing. Happy Easter Holidays.

Report by;

Andrew Echel

Director Prog, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society