ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

October 24 update

Good weather everyone!

This is a greeting that one of my classmates liked to use. His name was Andrew, just like me. The first time I heard it, I laughed hard. I felt like he was showing off yet again it was interesting so most classmates used it for fun. 

I don’t know if most of you follow international news and in this regard to African news because something tragic is happening on our continent. Many people are dying in Nigeria. The causes are said to be politically motivated and many people are crying on all sorts of social media platforms asking people to check on their relatives. 

The political situation is very alarming so we ask you to please send positive thoughts to our Nigerian brothers and sisters because no one deserves to take another’s life because we give it not. 

This week in Uganda, the most famous opposition party right called National Unity Platform had a case in court and won the case. This party, which is led by a former musician and now political personality named Bobie Wine has caused a lot of turmoil in this country. Many people have been shot and jailed due to demonstrations. In effect to the court session this week of which they won the case, as  they jubilated in a place called Wandegeya where police fired tear gas to disperse people. {note: in Uganda all large gatherings, but especially ones that may have a whiff of criticism about the ruling party, must have ‘proper’ clearance and permits from the government. This celebration that Andrew writes about was likely unauthorized and thus the target of government crackdown. -ed}

Jonathan Ssekitondo on Twitter: "Protests spreading from the city to as far  as 'Ku bbiri', Wandegeya as people show their dissatisfaction to @GovUganda  holding @HEBobiwine. #FreeBobieWine… https://t.co/QBR8nDdolT"
protests in Wandegeya (photo by Jonathan Ssekitondo via Twitter)

When I observe the pattern of what is happening now, this might actually set a precedent for electoral violence in the coming year 2021. Uganda is set to have its presidential elections in March 2021 and we can only hope that at least it is a peaceful election, but it is in my greatest of doubts. 

An article published by The New Vision {newspaper} on October 20th 2020 titled “How Covid-19 has affected women in Uganda”, by Lillian Magezi shared some real life challenges that Ugandan women have faced during these times.

Some of the noted effects included husbands drinking thrice as much as they normally would and also stated increased physical abuse towards both children and mothers. These vices have been as a result of the loss of employment for most men who have resorted into drinking as a way of killing time and frustration. This is one of the reasons why we have embarked greatly on the course of boosting Mama Nguvu partner businesses to ensure that we bring about balance and sustainability in these homes.

The Covid 19 situation still extends everywhere and we continue to feel its effects. Uganda has registered just under 11,000 infections, 7,194 recoveries and just under 100 deaths. This week seems as though the figures have reduced and we hope this stays this way. 

Schools have reopened officially as we have started seeing more and more students in school uniforms walking to school. Most of these students like I mentioned last week are candidates from finalist classes. We can only wish them the best of luck and that they can succeed in their academic endeavors.

My week has been a bit light work as my main aim was to ensure that Mamas who needed a boost got the boost as required, so I met with Asia B, Dorah A, Rovence N, Justine N, Amina A and Hadijja N.

Asia B at her stall

Asia B., needed a boost to help her acquire a second hand fridge at a relatively cheaper price as the original owner was selling it at a give away price or goodwill if you like. It came along with some soda glass bottles, saucepans and other little things, so we provided her with a financial no-interest loan of which she is required to pay back only 60%. She was very excited when we presented her the offer because this equipment now fully owned helps her to improve her business by providing cold beverages like soda and other local juices.

Dorah at her (almost) restaurant

After the long wait for Dorah’s new restaurant room, this week we went and deposited towards her rent. The house is still under construction but at least she has edged closer to owning the shop. She had been scouting and house hunting for almost a year now, reaching this milestone is such a great improvement on her success. She will be able to start business hopefully as soon as the house is completed and by the time of our meeting, the floor tiles were the only thing left to finish.

Rovence, patiently waiting for her new furniture to arrive

I visited Rovence N., to follow up on the furniture progress because it is a carpenter thing to deliver work late so it requires us to constantly follow up work until it’s done. When I spoke to Rovence she had said that the carpenter had promised to complete the work by the weekend, so we will wait to see what the work looks like.

Justine selling vegetables

Justine N., has been struggling to get back her broken saucepan for a year now and we want to ensure that she gets it back soon. We help Mamas like Justine acquire business items like these to ensure that they can impact their lives with these things. When they do not have them at their disposal, we can not ensure this transformation. Justine said that one of her challenges, like many, is the fact is the fact that social gatherings where these pans would normally be used, like weddings or funerals, are currently not allowed and so her market has shrunk. She has not been able to save up enough from daily sales of her vegetable stall to redeem her saucepan. We have decided to provide a no-interest loan from which she will redeem her saucepan and be ready for business when the country re-opens. 

The slightly less-toothed but happier Amina

Amina A, went for her second last dental appointment where she got her 3 teeth filled but she remains with 3 more to be worked on. She had been suffering for many months now with a lot of toothache and through our medical emergency support we have helped her remove 4 badly damaged teeth and now filled 3 of the 6 that are not as badly damaged. She now only has 3 more to go and maybe can get replacements because she has no molars left, so she can not chew her food well enough. She said. “I am glad, I can sleep now”. She had not had any proper sleep in months, so for two days after her surgery, she only slept.

On the other hand, I am also happy to say that she has managed to sustain her yellow banana business and the business is going on. Regardless of the dental challenges and appointments, Amina is keeping her business act together. I constantly like to encourage her that this is an opportunity that she has to take advantage of and change her story. 

Hadijja

Lastly, I met with Hadijja N.,  and she is doing well. The business is not yet up to its best because her bar is not up and running but she improvised with a cassava chips stall in the morning hours. She paid part of her Covid loan which is usually a sign that the business has improved.

I also collected another 50,000/- Uganda shillings from Aidah K. who was also paying part of her boost contribution.

These are the type of finances or collections that we use to help our Mama get boosts and other forms of financial support.

I want to continue thanking you all for the support and contributions you make towards the work we do. I must say we appreciated you so much and please continue supporting us. 

As for me on a daily basis I continue to witness the transformational power of what your support keeps bringing.

It is sad that this week we received an email from Geoffrey, our brick making partner due to the heavy rains that caused the breaking of about 1,500 bricks. As you might know by now, this work is very labor demanding therefore any breaking is such a great loss. Let us hope that the rains stabilize and stop being brutal to destroy the bricks.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Echel 

Director of Prog, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society

October 19 Update

Mmu lembe..! (Moo – le – mba)

There is a tribe that originates in the East of Uganda, near the mountain Elgon and they are called the Bagisu. The interesting part of these people is that they have an ancient story of the beginning of man or the first man to walk this country Uganda. It is believed that he came down from the mountain Elgon with his cow. This man was called Kintu and he later met his wife called Nambi.

These are the kinds of stories we are taught in our primary school in a subject called social studies. The study of our environment, things that are around us. It is amazing how we have grown up to realize that a lot of the things that were taught to us were actually myths. It breaks my heart that both us and our kids have to undergo such an education system based on social lies. I think all humankind whether young or old, black or white deserves to be told the truth in order to create enlightenment.

October 2020 in Kampala has shaken things a bit in regards to the Covid 19 regulations. People in and around Kampala have been abusing curfew especially but since week one of October, things have changed to the good in my opinion. Police have stepped up their efforts in ensuring that people respect curfew. The roadblocks are up  by 8pm in the evening, exactly one hour before curfew which is 9pm. This has ensured that all of us start running home by 7pm to avoid traffic and being caught late.

The Covid-19 situation has not improved as we have reached 10,117 cases, 6,725 recoveries and 96 deaths so far. The response to the guidelines for safety and the standard operating procedure  I must say, are being followed even though not to the T. Almost all of the malls and arcades have temperature guns, hand washing facilities have been installed almost at every building and most importantly everyone is required to have a face mask whenever in public.

The good news for the education industry is that schools have been opened to only finalist candidates and this week we have been seeing a number of students starting to report to their respective schools. The schools have been asked to purchase all the required gadgets to ensure that whoever comes back to school is tested. They will also remain as boarding students and will not be visited by any other persons from outside school. This has all been done to help limit the spread of the virus, all students from outside Kampala central district were required to report to school earlier than the ones within.

This week, I was able to reach the following Mamas; Angel N, Jennifer N, Florence A, Jane N and I have spoken to Rovence N, Dorah A and Asia N.

Angel

Things have not improved much with Angel N from the last few months. The shop does not look as stocked like we had helped stock it late last year. I went to her store to check on how she was doing and I found her of course not happy. She was waiting for her usual customers but her stall was almost half empty. It is always hard for me to find our Mamas in such a situation regardless of what the circumstances have been. It is always our joy to help our Mamas to the best of our ability and if we can not at the time, we can only hope for the best for them. We want to give each Mama the best opportunity to thrive in these situations.

Jennifer with some bales of shoes

Jennifer is doing exceptionally this season as she closes in on the festive season. Usually it is good for the traders to start organizing themselves for the festive season and the signs are usually high sales. She is now opening 10 bales of shoes in a week and she actually told me.. 

“It gets better, I can double the number in the festive season.”

Jennifer

Their only challenge for her has been that usually they have some shoes that are not selected as quick by the usual buyers. They often take these shoes to local market places in villages and they are sold off. Now, like you might guess, the challenge is that all non-food markets have been closed so the shoes are not moving as they are supposed to.

Florence at her salon

I received a call earlier during the week to go visit Florence A., she is doing amazing work at her salon and it looks like everything is paying off. Around June this year we bought her a hair dryer to help her re-establish herself and the investment has turned out worth the while. She requested for a rent loan as she had accumulated a lot of rent arrears during the lockdown days, when all salons had been closed. The request was granted and we provided her 3 months rent, and the condition was that she paid it back when everything went well. As promised previously, she called me this week to pay back the first batch of payment. This money is what we usually move around from one Mama to another in the intent of one Mama helping another.

Thank you to all our partners for the funding that makes dreams of mamas like Florence come true.

Jane’s water tank

Previously, I had mentioned in one of the last reports that Jane N., the other Mama water tank had issues relating to property loss or acquisition. There is currently a property developer breathing down her neck, trying to persuade her to sell. The challenge from my last conversation was that she was being offered little money and yet this property or land helps Jane to feed some of her children and grandchildren too. She can not offer this plot if they don’t give her the money she thinks is worth what she has on the property, including the water tank that we purchased for her 3yrs ago.

During my visit I noticed more neighbors having given in their property and their buildings knocked down. Jane is still in the struggle to get the best offer from these developers but as all of you might know, these developers usually have people they know above and can make lives hard for people like Jane. My hope is that things can go well for her so she can move her children to a better place.

On the other hand I was able to talk to Rovence N., who needed furniture for her restaurant to create more seating space to maximize her small restaurant. This week, her assignment was to look for a cost effective carpenter who would do the job she wanted. She has found one, who is going to charge her 250,000/- and I have spoken to her in the interest of repayment which she is willing to do. Sometimes these mamas need a little bit of help to figure out some of these things.

There is no positive news so far with Dorah A., the shop houses are still under construction so the owner has asked her to continue waiting until they are complete.

Asia N., is still recovering from a malaria fever she got early this week. She is interested in some kind of financial help that she needs to help her acquire some business items including a fridge. We have been in touch with each other and she is doing better. Our interest to offer the loan is there but we agreed to further our discussion when she recovers fully. 

We want to thank you for all your support and donations. Please continue to follow us as most of you have received the notification that we will not be using social media platforms again. We request you to please send Erika your emails so we can send you our reports and updates.

Yours sincerely,

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs,Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society.