ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

One final report

Hello friends of ISEE. This is our final report to you, to share the delivery of the annual hampers to our amazing mamas. I am sad that this amazing work is coming to an end for us but I am encouraged by the fact that this work is continuing through other organizations, many of which are Ugandan. The Ugandan people are amazing, resilient, and kind-hearted and they want to lift each other up. We have seen many examples of this through our Mama program when women have started to do well and then have employed other women in their community.

I am also so happy to have connected and worked with Margaret in Njeru, with HEYFU in Bwaise, and with Yimba Uganda in Kampala as their vision to empower the girl child and allow her to go to school even during her period is identical to ISEE’s.

Thank you to Sam and everyone at Kabojja for all their help while we have been in Uganda and away. We always knew we were in safe hands while we were there with the Kabojja family behind us.

And finally, a big thank you to Andrew who has been our man on the ground for the past 10 years. The “little boy” I met in 2012 has come a long way and has been instrumental in all the ISEE successes over the years. Webale Nnyo Langi, we could not have done it without you.

To everyone who has supported our work, thank you, thank you, thank you. You helped make my vision a reality. If you want to continue to support such work in Uganda, I highly recommend connecting with Yimba Uganda. They need your support as much as we did.

Now on to Andrew’s final report.

– Erika

Greetings to you all,

Aah! This is it, the Wrap-Up 2023 as I have called the report. 

It has been an incredible ten year journey from 2013 – 2023. From when I was  only a young man and now I’m a real man. When most of the children of the Mamas were only infants but now most are teens and young adults. When Mamas were on the verge of giving up but now majority have fully functional business and others still on the growing trajectory. What a journey it has been for all of us, even ISEE Solutions Society. We had no idea we would walk this far, year after year we grew. From 8 Mama’s to 14 to 21 to eventually 49+ Mamas and partners.

This would have not been possible without every single one of you dear friends,families, partners and institutions. From the young and old we mobilized support to keep children in school, providing not only empowerment but also reproductive health awareness and most importantly reusable sanitary kits. Not only helping them stay in school but also providing sex education promoting abstinence for children and use of condoms for adults to try to promote safe sex and family planning. 

It was hamper time again this December. I started my shopping as always buying dry foods like posho, beans, rice, baking flour, salt, soap, buckets, margarine, sodas, and then bread on delivery days respectively. I love bread so I make sure I do a good service when getting the bread. We have a culture of giving the best so each product we bought was at a standard I would personally prefer.

I packed all 36 hampers and delivered one by one at the door of each and every Mama. Those who were not at home, it was fortunate that their kids were home so they represented their mothers. The smiles on their faces said a million words and my words can’t express them enough. One thing I know is that they felt love. 

Delivering the final message for closure was not easy even for me as the messenger, all Mamas were sad to hear this but yet happy that for 10 years they have had a family that supported them endlessly through the years;

Florence… Looking at me with tears in her eyes and disbelief, she thought maybe I was kidding so she stared dead into my eyes, “Andrew, you are serious!” I nodded yes. “Will at least Erika come back?” At least. I said to her, maybe! Mamas like Florence and many others created relationships that mattered to all of us. It wasn’t just a project for them, it was a Society.

Jane… Andrew, Olimba! ( You are lying). Nedda (No). Banange, (OMG). Naye, webale nnyo. Nonetheless, thank you very much for your support all these years. Thank you for taking care of Francis, my grandson. I am sorry that he will not see you but he is well. We appreciate you for the tank. I had a small broken tank that had leakages everywhere. Some people take back the things they gave you but you people have been different. Thank you for always visiting and encouraging us through the tough times. And please send our greetings and gratitude to the people that send us everything even when they don’t know us and we don’t know what they look like.

Rehema… I know, I have been hard to deal with but thank you for not giving up on us! This one, I was about to give up but each time I was on the verge, then I remembered all the kids and grandkids she takes care of. I was glad, we gave her the salon business and I hope it can sustain them for a while. Bba, nne’balize nnyo! Please, thank them for me.

Francoise… Uncle Andrew, thank my sister for her please. Thanks to Corey’s sister when I was sick, they cared. You helped me get medicine and paid my bills. I will never forget. Christmas has been good the last few years, with the soda, rice and everything else. I hope we can meet again soon.

Hadija… Mr. Andrew, lwaaki! (Why?) How are we proceeding without you? Mama Nguvu has been there for me in many ways, not only business. When I broke my leg, when I lost my baby you were there for me. Tell Aunty Erika, thank you for everything. (Byonna) 

Amina… Andrew, mutabani (my son). Why do you deliver good news and bad news at the same time? I thought you were joking. Naye (But), thank them for me, please. School fees, business, treatment when I had surgery and moral support. I am so grateful for everything you have done including when you sit here and listen and also guide my kids. Webale nnyo nnyo. (Thank you very much)

Semmy… Eh! You are leaving us but you have not left me the same, even just this year. The soap business has helped me complete payment for school fees for the kids. As a teacher in such a school, my salary is simply not enough even to feed us but after the soap business, my sons have transport to school and fees for the term. I also have another big batch to deliver in the next few weeks after Christmas. 

Justine… Banange, nkugambe kki? (Omg, what can I say to you?). My house was down, my stall was down and you built them. You gave me saucepans at the start and helped me fix them when they broke. Mwebale nnyo! (Thank you)

Maria… We are going to miss your friendship. My pigs have helped a lot with the kids’ school fees and as for the Christmas hampers, it’s always a pleasure to see you carry them into the compound. Always a wonderful surprise for us all.

Rashida… Banange Uncle Andrew, Muzungu mutwebalize nnyo nnyo! Thank Erika and the team, especially her mother. Someone who loves and cares for you even when they don’t see you is not easy. Rashida is one of the few people whose business was visited when Judith was last in Uganda. 

Lorna… Please thank everyone for me, for believing in me and my family. For supporting us in every possible way. You stood by me during the time my partner hit me with a hammer on the head. You give us hampers every Christmas.

Lilly… Waki ggi ni afwoyo matek! Lilly comes from Northern Uganda, a place called Gulu district. A familiar district related to the Kony insurgency. That phrase means… “Tell them, thank you very much!” she is grateful for all the support and the hamper, saying… “Philip can now rest as the soda has arrived” Philip is her youngest son.

Immaculate… Thank you Andrew for being a good person, always checking on us, delivering everything when we need it. I was sitting here thinking about what I should get for the kids and then you called and showed up with another bucket. Thank you Andrew and thank Erika for me please.

Each Mama had a unique expression when I told them the news. They were gutted and you could see it in their eyes but above all, they were grateful for the wonderful years of love and support. In their small ways, they said a prayer for all of you. You could see what ISEE mean to them.

On a personal note, thank you for helping me serve my country. I remember during my first year of service during an interview when I was asked what I loved to do. I quoted Benjamin Franklin and I am glad I have had the opportunity to serve my country and my community. I have learned and grown on the job. Yes, I made mistakes but I was under an amazing leadership, the captain of the ship and the mentorship of a good man. They have toughened me, have made me sensitive and mindful and above all reminded me that kindness matters. I owe you both everything I am. Well done!

Report by;

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda.

ISEE Solutions Society.

October 23rd

Greetings to you friends,

I hope that you are well. 

On this other side of the world, the rains are going crazy. They are outdoing themselves. It has been raining every day or every other day, when it rains, it actually rains. All dirt roads have become almost impassable and one of the taxis I was in last time almost made a U-turn because the tyres could not get grip. The only thing I have loved through this season is that everything has seemingly blossomed and is green.

This week I went to see Jane (Water Tank One) who is a seller of clean water in the areas of Kawempe division. The rainy season is one of the hardest seasons for her because people usually tend to harvest water during these times. She leaped onto the tank base and showed me the level of the water in the tank and it was so high that she could hardly touch it. So, she is busy with her paper bag-making business because she can’t survive on the 8-10 jerrycans she sells daily (1,000/-). Otherwise, she is doing okay and all the kids are in school except Francis and another who broke his leg about 2 months ago.

I also visited Jane (Water Tank Two) on the journey to relocate it to a more permanent home. After Jane’s home was removed by the developers, it has somewhat been hard to find a good home for this tank because Jane has not moved yet completely as part of her property has not yet been compensated. She fears that if she moves this remaining property will be destroyed and everything will be stolen so this move has been delayed. I had not seen the tank in a few months but this week, we were able to visit the site where she had it kept and it was safe. We have now embarked on the building of the tank base and it will be moved as soon as the base dries.

Rehema is doing okay at the moment. She has held up the business not so badly but only faced a challenge that her bigger display rack was stolen just outside the door. She had removed the hair pieces and entered the house to have a little nap as she had just returned from a laundry service. She was lucky that she had removed the hair so the wooden rack was the only one taken. She decided to make a smaller one because she had no money but also it was easier for her to carry, unlike the other big one where she needed the big boys to carry it into the house.

Florence the salonist is doing okay at the moment. She has continued to pick up as now most kids are in school and parents can afford to do their hair. Both her kids are in school and are doing okay, Angel who usually gets sick has been okay through this season so Florence is happy with the proceedings. She was working on two to three customers so the season is looking good for her.

Aidah too has been having a good time but yet challenging because the rain somewhat increases consumption but makes mobility and cooking a bit hard. She usually cooks from outside her wooden shack but when it rains she has to cook from inside. She also has to walk slowly and much carefully because the ground is quite slippery at this time. Otherwise, business has not been bad in general and she is loving the benefits of the rain much more than the challenges.

We were able to get some hair supplies for Jolly to restart her salon after Angel her partner disappeared from the scene in Uganda. Angel decided to go pursue a life on another continent as of the information I got. She made her way to one of the Arab countries to go housekeep. She left after selling most of the products they had in the salon but she dropped off a few of the chemicals at Francoise’s.

Francoise has continued to cook more recently. She found someone who sells maize a bit cheaper than what is on the market so she was lucky that she even bought more than she usually buys. 

Rovence has also been cooking a lot recently even though the food is a bit expensive. She is also facing a lot of competition from new food stalls popping up around her but I encouraged her that it’s just for the season.  These newbies are charging much less than she charges and this can be a huge challenge for restaurant businesses. They are charging less because they don’t pay rent and power so I told her that it’s okay because when it rains, the customers will need shelter while they eat and that’s a good competitive advantage. Plus the fact that she offers safe and clean drinking water for her customers, she will surely have them back in no time.

I made a trip to see Henry as we were promised that his chickens would be on site in the first week of October. We gave them two more weeks for the benefit of the doubt but when we got there, the chicks were not in the poultry farm and they were to come the next day. So, we booked for 5 chickens to try and increase his egg production. So, that is why it wasn’t very productive at all as Henry lives way out of town so it takes me hours to get there.

Margaret is doing okay. She is still struggling with her right eye since the cataract was removed. The sight has improved but the doctors said there is a build-up of fluids in her eye which has caused her pupil to move. It is not located in the centre of the eye but rather is moved just above. I had never seen this but she asked me to look at it and I was shocked to see it. Otherwise, she is okay, the foot is doing much better and she is sewing, surprisingly. She had a few shirts to finish before she had left for the village. The only challenge is that her eye gets teary when she is sewing because I guess she has to strain a little more.

Sadly, Hadija has been struggling with some health-related issues. She said that she felt like her chest was under a lot of pressure and she couldn’t breathe well. They went to the doctor and they discovered that she had a fluid buildup in her abdomen and chest. They gave her some medicines that have since helped reduce the pain but she will have to go back for a scan and review. She has not been working so one of the girls has been attending to the roadside stall.

Annet is loving life at the moment as the rains have meant that the porridge and tea are moving. She is even staying longer on the road especially those mornings when it rains. She often tries to get to the roadside on time and start before the rain intensifies. She is selling more tea than usual so I advised her to save more money in preparation for the bad seasons but also pay up the children’s school fees.

On another positive note, we were able to nail down a soap-making session for her this week. This is the gentleman who taught Semmy and I was glad to get the phone call later that day from Annet saying that the soap was looking good. She is now going to sell the 8 bars they made and will now continue on her own. She got a weighing scale for herself as it is very important because this soap-making game is a game of measurements. I am really happy this boost has finally kicked off and we can only wish her the very best.

Because I went down to see Annet, I had to visit Maria as well. She had had a few sick piglets and needed some help to get a veterinary doctor to get that situation under control. I found the piglets doing much better and they had started feeding again. 

Lilly has been doing good with her tailoring right from the start of last month, she has been having orders of tablecloths one after the other. She has now completed the payment of her son Phillip’s school fees and I am really happy about that. She has also just ordered for another bag of silverfish and it will be delivered sometime this week.

Amina is also doing well for herself. I have been monitoring her progress very closely recently because she has been having a candidate who needed to finish her final year. She has been able to pay all the fees for the girl (Amar) but has a smaller balance for Yahaya the boy. This is good progress and she can’t wait for Amar to finish so her burden can be cut down by half. 

Pulakiseda is also doing okay. The market has been a bit slow especially because when it rains, mobility becomes very hard as the floor is wet and muddy therefore hindering customers. Otherwise, she is doing okay and the stall is looking somewhat good. Still requires some more stock but all is well at the moment.

Finally, I was able to deliver the PUL at Yimba Uganda for Anna Marie and Emma who have continued with the reusable sanitary pads though in their absence. It was received by William who will store it in a good place until they resume work. I would like to thank you all who donate and support the activities of ISEE Solutions because surely you have made our work successful over the years. We appreciate you all in all capacities and we wouldn’t have been able to do this without you.

Report by;

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society