ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

Feb 06 update

{ed. note: it’s that time of year again, and so all 2022 tax receipts have been sent out via Canada Post. If for some reason you have not received your envelope from us by the end of the month, please email us [erika (at) iseesolutions.org] and we’ll get it to you quickly. If you prefer a digital version please let us know and we’ll send you one that way. Now, on with the show…}

Greetings to you all,

Happy New Month as we like to say here. I hope everything went according to plan for you last month. This year is rushing too fast because we just started the year yesterday and here we are on month two. Where is the time flying to?

Here, we are doing well. January was extremely hot for most of the time but we survived. I am happy to continue this month with the good work we are doing down here and I have managed to accomplish a few tasks already. 

Lorna still smiling

This week I received a call from Lorna K informing me that her stall almost caught fire when one of the stalls on her block caught fire. This fire started when the lady deep frying pork threw the pork in the hot oil and it started a flame. It quickly jumped to the wood as the oil atomized and in no time the fire was all over the place. In the attempt to save her shop, they had to quickly break her door pole to put out everything. Now as this happened, some thieves started picking up whatever was being taken out. She lost a couple of big pans and flasks. They managed to save most of the things and she is back to business as usual. The fire was eventually put out by the firefighters who (amazingly) showed up in time before more property was lost. Otherwise she is well but one of the boys who work for her was so traumatized that he fell sick and has not returned to work since.

view of the damaged stall

I also visited Betty N, and she is doing incredibly well. The shop has been having a lot of business ranging from school uniforms to ordinary clothes. She is happy and her kids are starting school again this week. She has decided to invest in homeschooling as a way of helping her kids learn more effectively and also at a cheaper price.

Florence at her salon

Florence A is doing well. She has been working on clearing her salon space to create more working space for her. The business is doing okay and she is expanding it to create more working space for her. She had earlier split the room into two spaces, the salon and the sleeping space as this also served as her home. She is due in February so she is trying to quickly use this time to upgrade the space before giving birth. Otherwise, she looked happy but tired and lucky enough her son who was becoming a problem was moved to her sister’s place which they deemed safe for him and he will join boarding school too. Kisugu area is not the best of places to raise boys that age as they need close monitoring and constant supervision. Many youth here end up using drugs and other criminal activities.

Angel, Jordan, and Francoise

I also went down to Namuwongo to shop for some scholastic items for Jordan as he prepared to start school the next week. Sadly Jordan lost his mother in December 2022 and will now live with his grandmother Francoise who has been taking of him for about two years or more now. He has been moved to a closer school so he can go by himself as the last school was a bit far from home and it was dangerous for him to go alone so Francoise had to walk him every morning sometimes presenting a challenge since she also has to work during the same time. He got all the books, pencils, and crayons plus a few items the school requires for him to start. His school fees were also taken care of so he will attend school smoothly.

Francoise and Jordan shopping for school supplies
Henry showing Prossy’s new piglet (Andrew)

I also went to Mityana to visit Prossy’s farm and she had sold the old pigs already, which was a good thing. The problem is that she has bought almost the same breed of pigs which will almost result in the same problem as the last ones. I was advised that she needs to take this farm more seriously as a business rather than a hobby. Pigs are bought by size and kilograms and the fatter the more it is priced. The solution to Prossy’s situation is to help her acquire a bigger pig almost ready to start producing as this will help deal with the feeding problem. This will also help her multiply her pigs much faster as she already has space to accommodate a bigger number. Otherwise, we will look at this problem longer than we want to. She needs to succeed in this venture to ease her life and work with these animals.

Margaret

Margaret was scheduled to have cataract surgery this coming week. I visited her and she has been doing her tailoring business as usual. She has been working hard and I like to see her back at it again. I hope she will be able to continue with her tailoring after the surgery. She has come a long way with that hurting nerve in her foot but that did not stop her and now this cataract thing. I hope she can continue.

Pulakiseda

Pulakiseda is doing well with her stall. I stopped by to see her and also picked up my groceries for the month. I got my usual rice, sugar and posho supply. The fridge has done well this month because it was incredibly hot so there were a lot of sales in that department. She says she has saved enough money to send her last two kids to school already.

Amina and son

Amina is happy and has been making more chapati. She is still struggling to get other shops to supply chapati but has not given up. She keeps trying. Amar will be able to start school next week when school reopens for the term. She has been reading hard lately as Amina told me and this is good because it has kept her home and away from some bad company that Amina has wanted her to stay away from. 

Betty sewing a uniform

It was a good week for me yet again as we were able to provide Rovence with some assistance for her dry foods to be able to manage her new market on the weekend. I also spoke to Hadija and she is doing well. She has not returned to her chips stall yet but says she will return soon. The chips stall is being run by her girls and it is doing okay so far. She has also been trying to look for a school to take her daughter to. 

Thank you for all your support yet again this time around with Rovence,  Amar and Jordan who will be able to return to school successfully. We appreciate you and your support. Nothing has been done yet with Jane and her water tank as she is dealing with some things to close the property deal. She has been struggling to ensure that the kids go back to school so we can continue with the tank.

Report by 

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society

February 01 update

Andrew the goat

Greetings to you all,

I hope this edition finds you well. Over the last few weeks, we have been seeing and hearing reports on how bad the weather has been as much of North America is frozen and cars can’t even drive on those beautifully paved roads. Here it has been a different story as the sun has scorched everything, including the streets, so it is dusty everywhere. Most of the plantation fields  are extremely dry and perhaps it is a good time to harvest maize and beans so we can experience a small drop in the prices because the whole of November and December last year everything was highly priced and it affected everything we did.

This week was a bit slow and we had a National Holiday called Liberation Day which was on Wednesday last week. This somewhat affected my work but I was able to accomplish some of the tasks as scheduled from last week;

Justine in the lumber yard

I will start with the Justine assignment where we needed to build her a small shelter around her vegetable stall to help prevent rain and sunshine from bothering her. Last year during the rainy season, she would carry her vegetables back and forth between her house and stall when it rained and stopped. My initial worry was her safety because she lives in the middle of a swampy area, and carrying this box of vegetables back and forth presented a high risk of falling given that she was still undergoing treatment for her neurologically bad foot. We bought 5 poles, 6 roofing poles and 30 planks to help complete the shelter. It turned out that it was not enough planks so I went back and bought her another extra 10 planks to complete the shelter. She is very cooperative so it is always easy working with her. I am happy to say that according to my conversation with her on the phone, the stall is complete. I will visit again this week to get the final picture of what the stall has become. Thank you for supporting Justine. She said “Mwebale nnyo nnyo” which translates to “Thank you very very much”. 

Justine in front of the nearly-complete stall
Hamida arranging for picking up chickens

We also made contact with Hamida, our poultry Mama who has been wanting to get this project up and running before December last year but things didn’t go as planned. This week, we organized and met at one of the biggest chick suppliers in Uganda called Ugachick. It is one of the oldest and most successful poultry farming organizations in Uganda. We booked 100 chicks and they will be delivered on the 26th of February. The date seems so far as you might notice but the truth is that these guys have an incredible demand so we have to always wait and that is also good for Hamida because she can do her final preparations and clean everything she needs. 

Sarah with her pigs Andrew and Andrew II

I also visited Sarah who has goats and pigs now, she is doing well though her goat house has started falling apart starting with the steps climbing up to the goat house. She recently delivered another baby goat on her goat farm. This is very good that we have started seeing some kind of growth. Sarah has lost several goats over the last few years to disease and theft but not at the end of last year. People around her community lost a lot of animals during the Christmas season but she only lost a few bunches of matooke (starchy green bananas like plantains) which are usually prepared by either frying or steaming in banana leaves.

Thieves came at night and cut all banana plants with a bunch on top of them and when they realized it was not mature they would just leave it on the ground which was a total waste of food given the price of these bananas. The other positive thing is that her piggery is doing well, she started with three pigs and has recently acquired two more. She has plenty of vegetation in her garden so this is helping with the feeding of these animals. 

Rovence at her restaurant

Rovence N is doing well with her restaurant. She recently got another contract for a year to supply a local organization called Hands of Hope, to supply their children with food every Saturday until November 2023. This is a good boost to her business and luckily she still has the warmers and utensils that she acquired about 2 years ago e.g warmers, plates, cups, etc. Her only challenge is she needs to buy more dry foods which will help her manage the supply more effectively. She would like to continue the business on Saturdays because she has local customers who depend on her, therefore she employs three more women from the community to cook for her. 

Amina with children Amar and Yahaya

Amina is also fairing well. She has continued to look for more shops she can supply with chapati to improve or increase her supply chain or market. She makes her chapatis and distributes them to these shops who help to sell them throughout the day and she collects the money every afternoon to prepare for the next morning.

Amar with her necessary materials

This week her daughter who is a candidate was able to get her registration fees and scholastic materials for the term. The registration fees will ensure that she is registered for this year’s final exams. Amina was so excited and pleased that this fee was made available because most schools won’t allow a student to continue without paying this fee. It is more important than tuition fees for the term. 

(l to r) Jordan, Francoise, Jolly

Francoise is also doing well. She looks more healthy and determined to push on with life. She has continued to cook her beans and maize mix which she sells at the railway track. She has involved her children who now help her to carry the heavy items back and forth every morning and afternoon when she is ready to go back and start a new batch. The sales have not yet improved much and it is usually that around this time people are focusing on school fees and children going back to school. Therefore she is cooking small portions every day. Jordan her grandson has been admitted to a new school because the last one was a bit far away from her home. He had to cross about three major roads before reaching school. Francoise has worried that this is not safe for him because school-going hours are prime hours for people rushing to go to work. He will be registered fully this week and he will be ready to join the school next week.

The other Mamas I spoke to include Irene l the salonist who last week had a baby. She delivered well and is back home but I was not in the position to go see her but they are both well. The salon remains closed in the meantime as she recovers and reorganizes herself. I wasn’t able to see Florence again this week but we spoke on phone and she is doing well, just a bit heavy at the moment as she expects her baby anytime this month. Immaculate was in the field so I was not able to see her. Her clinic or drug shop is doing okay at the moment. Business is a bit slow she said but everything is going on well.

I would like to thank you all for being a part of what we do and supporting our Mamas who have become our sisters and friends. What concerns them concerns us. Thank you for following us endlessly week in and week out.

Yours sincerely

Andrew Echel 

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society