ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

COVID-19 Update from Uganda – April 5th 2020

Greetings to you all,

I know it has been quite a time since this Coronavirus pandemic started to affect our world early this year. We can all agree that we are all scared regardless of which part of the world you come from, whether black or white we are being hit with the same level of fear and we are all panicking but for a real reason this time. We can only pray and hope that our scientists can come through for us with a breakthrough sooner than later, because if we have ever needed a breakthrough this is the time. 

Our leaders are continuously giving us national addresses like never before, for us here it’s been 4 days in a row he has appeared on national television and radio to give us state of the nation addresses with guidelines to help us limit and combat the spread of this virus. Panic everywhere as lockdown has been initiated limiting people movement both public or private cars can’t operate and if they have to, they must get permission from local leaders called Residential District Commissioners who will issue you a pass. All roads have some kind of road blocks with both traffic and policemen stopping cars to ensure vehicles don’t move without clearance. So people have to walk for hours to go look for food as most shops are closed except the ones that sell food. All employees have been stopped including civil servants except Police, Army, and doctors who will continue to serve the nation given their profession. Curfew has been activated from 7pm when it gets dark until 6:30am when we have daylight. The president has designated these hours for security purposes to limit criminal activities. All people have been encouraged to stay home and only move if they have to and keep social distances whenever they are out of their homes. The streets have lesser people, the public food markets are being highly guarded and sensitization is going on so we are hoping that we can fight this virus together by keeping safe or staying home.

On the other hand people are allowed to walk wherever they want or else use bicycles since they only carry one individual at a time. All motorcycles will only carry luggage or food stuff nothing more, cargo trucks and trucks that carry food or what we call produce will be allowed to transport and will carry only 3 people with standard operating procedures laid down for them, that includes all food stores and supermarkets as they are issued Standard Operation Procedures to help limit infections and spread. The other good thing is that we haven’t been hit yet by scarcity of food but surely some of the prices have started to shoot up from the regular prices we used to buy these things. So the majority of people are stocking up food for the next couple of weeks as this lock down will be on for 14 days then the president will issue a new directive.

Now here is our main fear that most or majority of Ugandans don’t have formal employment, just like our Mama Nguvu women who either sell foodstuff or vegetables to survive, then another category that has restaurants who also operate relatively the same. Most Ugandans earn income on a daily basis and that’s how they survive most don’t have savings or even bank accounts so they don’t have money to stock up on food supplies. Thankfully Erika had sent me some money to put aside for such kinds of emergencies and that’s what I have used to bail out a few of them, sending them small portions to help them purchase food for their families. Some if not most of them have kids and some just had newborns about a month ago so you wonder how long they will survive. I keep on the lookout for the most vulnerable ones and keep an eye on them just in case there needs to be an intervention and there surely will require this.

The positive thing is that we have managed to limit the new cases of spread within the public to only 5, 4 Chinese who escaped quarantine when they entered the country and were arrested in the Northern District of Adjumani as they tried to sneak out of the country. The other one infection was a child who died in Iganga one of the Eastern districts of Uganda, whereas the rest of the 39 infected people are people who tested positive when they flew into the country and all are still under quarantine. 

We hope that it stays this way because if it enters the public with the unhealthy lifestyles we have, the majority of the population living in slums so close to each other we can only imagine what will happen. Our poor standards of living and level of poverty here will surely cause if not a wipeout of the population then it will be something else. The poor health facilities all will not be able to even remotely handle the situation at all. 

The government has deployed police units, army men and local defence unit groups in rural areas who are stopping and enforcing adherence. Some of them have even flogged people who have been found sharing boda bodas “motorcycles” and arrested them. The president has instructed that they arrest them and charge them with attempted murder, all people wanting to help especially offer food have been asked to stop if they are calling people to collect because he says that it’s another way of causing spread because people will crowd the places hence increasing risk. This is why as ISEE Solutions we are resulting in sending them money instead of me taking them food or medication as this also puts me at a risk of catching the disease.

The president has also asked people to engage on the online platform to shop and order for supplies. If you have been here you will know that the internet is not a reliable place to do business not even because it’s not available or scam but the network is not good, the internet is taxed highly and for a majority of the people especially the one we work with don’t even own smartphones to be able to access the service. Our masses are still illiterate and can’t read or even write their names so how will they handle this business. 

We can only pray and hope that the situation doesn’t get out of hand because it’s going to be hard for our world. Thank you all for the support and thoughts, we appreciate you and also wish you the very best as you stay safe and keep social distancing. #StayHomeSaveLives

Andrew Echel

A Very Important Message from Corey

Hello ISEE Community!

On behalf of the ISEE Board of Directors, please accept my warm wishes for you and your loved ones during this unprecedented time in our global society. The consolation that we are, in fact, living through a pivotal historical event must surely be tempered by the sobering reality of loss for so many people. Please help do your part by practicing good physical distancing techniques and washing your hands frequently.

ISEE was founded on the principle that every person deserves an education. We have been focused on keeping girls in school since the very beginning, and we have tailored our programs to this end. One of our major initiatives has been the making, in Canada and in Uganda, of reusable sanitary kits so that menstruating girls would be empowered to stay in school. We have distributed over 7,500 of these kits since 2012. These kits have made tangible differences in the lives of girls and women in Uganda, and we are so very honoured that you have helped us in this work.

The kits that we have made in the past were based upon an original pattern which was received after personally communicating with the founder of Days For Girls. At the time we started making the kits, the pattern was freely available on the DfG website and DfG was actively encouraging people to make the kits (as long as they weren’t selling them).

Since the first time we sewed a kit, we have consistently stressed that we based our kits on the DfG model. This was to remain transparent and to respect Days for Girls. When we first started ISEE, we knew we wanted to differentiate ourselves from DfG and we did this by the creation of our reproductive health workshops, which we deliver to the girls along with the kits. We also made modifications to the kits to suit the needs of the girls we served. We have always clearly stated that our kits are based on the Days for Girls pattern. Never have we claimed ownership of, or creation of, the patterns.

In 2014 DfG applied for a patent for their kit, and in 2018 they received this patent. At approximately the same time DfG shifted from charitable work to a for-profit model in Uganda.

Despite ISEE’s attempt to always give credit for the pattern to Days for Girls as a way of remaining transparent in our work and despite the fact that ISEE has been using this pattern since 2012, the president of Days for Girls Canada contacted Erika on March 31st and offered ISEE two options:

1. Become a team/chapter of Days for Girls which means ISEE would need to make the kits exactly as DfG mandates and we would no longer be able to use Betty and her team of sewers in Uganda as they would need to be “gold certified” by Days for Girls

or

2. Remove any mention of Days for Girls from our website and cease to use the Days for Girls patterns.

The board of ISEE Solutions has unanimously decided to completely distance ourselves from DfG and anything associated with them.

To this end, as of April 1, 2020, we request that you do not start any new work on raw materials. The pieces that are already in the pipeline, as it were, can and should be completed as per usual, but please hold off on starting anything new.

This means you can:
– complete the pieces you took home from the last sewing bee
– continue making backpacks using the Simplicity pattern
– continue making the water resistant hygiene bags

Please do not:
– trace and cut PUL
– cut new fabric for making more components of the kits
– make bags using the old pattern

We are actively prototyping new designs and will have a different pattern for you very soon (and if you are a menstruating female who would be willing to try wearing our new pattern and then reporting back on comfort and build, please reach out to Erika via email).

We are a teeny-tiny charity that only seeks to do good in the world, and without our reputation we are nothing. We hope this move will highlight our commitment to ethical, honourable, and transparent behaviour.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact myself or Erika directly. We will be happy to tell you more (from a distance, of course).

Keep safe, and thank you once again,
Sincerely,

Corey Mazurat
Vice President,
ISEE Solutions Society

Preventing period poverty

corey(at)iseesolutions(dot)org