ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

November Update

Hello supporters of ISEE,

This post represents three sets of updates from Andrew. We have posted it as one, and so there may be some overlap, but hopefully you’ll still enjoy hearing about the Mamas we have supported over the years.

Greetings to you all,

I hope you are all well or at least you are well. November has continued to bless us here with a lot of rain that we can’t even handle or even manage at such a time as this but all in all, we are better off with the rains than the scorching hot sunshine we always have around this time of the year. 

This week was so because the rains make my movements incredibly slow so I can only do much some weeks. 

One of my fun visits is the long-distance ones with Mamas like Sarah because it is a nice long journey through beautiful green sceneries as we head out to the Wakiso district. She is doing okay but lost a lot of bricks due to the rain. The rains also washed away part of her toilet so she is looking to build another one as the ditch was exposed.

The goats look great and her pigs are looking good too due to the excess green that they can feed on endlessly.

Rehema has also been doing okay as she has been having some business this week both hairdressing and laundry too. I am glad that she is keeping up at the moment. The challenge like most of the others is that there is no sun to dry most of the things she washes but she is getting some good money and has been able to pay all school fees for her boy who is sitting his final exams this year. She is incredibly relieved as this means that she has a lesser burden next year.

Semmy is doing well with her bar soap as when I went to visit her, she had already gone through the stock she had made for the week. She then sent for more ingredients and chemicals to make another batch for the next week. She has was only remaining with about 20 litres of liquid soap whose market has dropped a bit otherwise she is well and is also happy to have her eldest son complete school this year. He can now also take on light jobs to help the family earn some little income alongside making soap.

Rovence has been slowed down a lot by the rain as mentioned in most of this week’s blog. The rains have been sometimes starting at weird hours in the morning and during the daytime when people are supposed to be having lunch. This has made her sales incredibly a bit hard but she is managing it one day at a time she said.

Lilly is tailoring through a good time as she has continued to have multiple orders for tablecloths. I spoke to her a few weeks ago and she had been having order after order which is good. Business is good for her as the Christmas or festive season approaches. She has been able to complete school fees payment for both her sons and this is good.

Francoise has been steady with her business recently. Her son who finished school has surely been very helpful in being involved in carrying the heavy and hot pans to the railway side where they sell food. The rains have interrupted but have been using a lot of that umbrella that good fixed a few months ago. She has also completed payment for school fees for Jordan and he has been schooling well. 

On the other hand, I was only able to keep up by phone with Hadija who is not doing well and has not been able to return to the roadside. She is still unwell but relatively better but not good enough. I was also unable to go to Henry as the chickens needed more time (about 2 weeks). I asked him to make sure he books the 5 chickens we want to add to his farm. His own chickens have surely been doing well and he said they have continued to lay more eggs. Lastly, Justine is also doing well. The rains have not disturbed her much because most of the weak points have been built and the trench near her raised a bit so no more rain goes into her house. She is very happy about the fact that she has no worries anymore when it comes to flooding in her house.

Thank you for making a lot of what happens with the Mamas possible. It is your generosity and kindness that surely improve the lives of these Mamas and their families too. Children have started school and finished. Children have come home from school and have had meals and a place to sleep. Thank you. Today as we celebrate International Children’s Day, it is very important that we have contributed or played our part in ensuring that the Future of this country and many young people has been allowed to thrive as we secure the planet for them. 

Greetings to you all,

I hope you are well. 13th November 2023, is the International Day for Kindness as celebrated around the world. Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I want to start this report by thanking you for all the kindness you have expressed here both random and unrandom. You have been a blessing to us as an organization and also as Mama’s. I have been taught about kindness for a long time and I believe that the gospel was finally heard. It is one of the greatest philosophies that I have adopted and lived by since then. So, I would like to say thank you all for being kind to this world, you have been a blessing if I can use this word.

November has continued in the same spirit as October, starting with the immense amount of rains that have continued to flood the city and cause such an incredible amount of traffic jams on the roads down here. These last several weeks have blessed the farmers with so much rain and we are excited for the next year as we will have so much food and hopefully, we shall have a reduction in prices for common foods like maize flour and beans.

This week, I visited the following Mamas Betty, Angel, Harriet, Florence, Annet, Pulakiseda, Rashida, Amina, and Aidah. 

Betty is doing okay. The season has been good to the point that she was also getting some embroidery jobs. She got a few uniforms to label with the names and classes of the pupils. Tailoring has been good too and she is working on a few designer outfits for some clients. 

We had a lit moment with Harriet as she was cutting eggplants during her free time as she was waiting for a client. People here usually buy foods like eggplants, and mushrooms and cut them into small pieces then dry them in the sun as a way of preserving them for longer. Harriet was doing the same for her eggplants and would then add peanut butter to them during the cooking process. She is happy that she managed to clear her children’s school fees.

Florence is not doing very well in terms of her health as she thinks she caught a fever most recently. I found her sleeping on the floor of the salon so when I asked her, she said that she wasn’t feeling well. I advised her to go get tested so they could treat her in time given that she is also still a nursing mother, she needs to be as healthy as possible. Business has not been slow for her so thats a good thing for her as she has been getting clients every day although her salon is not looking as good as it used to.

Angel is also not in the best of conditions business-wise. She had to close one of her shops and remain with only one because it was becoming very hard to balance between the grocery shop and the veggie stall. She had to sell out because she needed money for the boys to sit for exams this coming week and the schools were sending them back home.

Annet is doing okay. She has sold out on the soap she made and she is excited to continue with the soap-making project. The tea and porridge are doing wonders for her because of the rain and the cold weather so everyone is ordering. I was happy to hear that all was going well.

Aidah is also doing okay but contrary to Annet, she is not making as much because the chips customers seem to act differently this rainy season. Her orders have greatly reduced and she is even closing much earlier than she usually does but the veggie stall is compensating so at least she has a little contingency plan.

Rashida was missing in action but I found her daughter attending so we had a little chat. She just finished her Primary Leavers Examination and she is in high hopes for her results in January next year. Otherwise, the business is okay and her mother had gone to do a little shopping to restock her veggie stall so her daughter takes care of the stall during these times especially that now she is on her holidays.

Amina as of last week is continuing to do okay. Her type of business requires that I keep up with her and check on her progress but luckily she is okay this week too. Her daughter has started her final exams so this gives her a huge relief. She became emotional during our talk looking back at how far they have come.

Finally, Pulakiseda is doing very well for herself. She also has a son doing his final year in school and it’s incredible listening to the Mamas giving testimonies of doing things they never dreamt of, like their children finishing what we call high school here. We still have high illiteracy levels in our communities but I am glad that we have supported these Mamas and played such a role in walking alongside them in educating their children.

It has been an amazing journey and track to run along these amazing women who have fought against all odds to ensure that they educate their children and feed them in an economy and struggle that they have become victors through your acts of kindness. Thank you so much to every single one of you. You have given us a hope and a future. We will be forever grateful.

Greetings to you all,

Happy November. 11 gone and one more to go until it’s 2024. This year has flown so fast that most of us could even fathom. A lot of ups and downs. A lot of good and not-so-good memories. A lot of memories were created and still more to create and experience. 

October went well for most of you a lot went well for me and the program too. Boosting Semmy, boosting Henry, and boosting Jane have been good highlights for me including finding Jennifer whom I had not seen for months on from January or February even of this year. The rains have been an extra blessing to the country at large let alone the lots of flooding that it has caused across mostly Kampala because of our poor drainage but guess what all is well.

The month was good in general and in the last week, I was able to see Jeniffer who sells second-hand shoes. She was very happy to see me too and sent you her most sincere regards with such an incredible smile. Her business is doing well and it has been successful. All her kids are in school and she has one more beautiful baby girl whom she described as the source of her happiness. We reminisced on a lot of conversations and things she had been going through over the last few months.

Secondly, one of the projects that had given us a lot of headaches “moving the tank” finally took a huge step and now as we speak the tank has been moved to its new location and I will go to see it this week. Jane has been struggling to have the tank moved to a proper location because the owners of the space she was keeping the tank needed it to be gone. We then found a builder who was willing to go and build a tank base but also secure a wall around it so it could be protected from damage and theft.

I dropped by Justine’s house as she called me to show me what they had done with her house and it was incredible to see. For years, I would cover my bed with a tap even when she was just outside the compound just in case it rained, said Justine. She had built the floor and added some iron bars to secure the front because that place had so many thieves. Otherwise, she is very happy and I was glad to see that she has become happier and improved her business and livelihood over the last few months. Thank you

I also came across the second Jane and she is also doing okay. She is mostly concentrated on her paper bag-making business because surely the rain has ensured that she stays out of business over the last few weeks. I found her with her grandson who she cares for and pays for school fees as he had just returned from school. They were going to pick up some money from clients who had taken paper bags plus also arrange chairs for a church mass she had that afternoon.

Incidentally, Hamida has restarted her poultry endeavour but only with about 50 birds this time round. She says that the school fees for this term were a bit much plus she has a boy who is also in the candidate class. She is okay with the feeding and this time she added a few local birds. She is also introducing free-ranging to ease the feeding burden. My concern was the rain but she says, she is always home and makes sure they get in the house before it starts. I am glad she is off her feet now and let us see how that goes. She has a good hand as we describe it, she hardly loses one when she rares.

Hadija has not been feeling well and unable to come to the chips at the roadside for two weeks now. Her sister is the one who is running the show down there at the moment. I was unable to go home and see her but I will see her in person next week to see what is going on. Otherwise, her girl is doing an okay job as Hadija likes to say because is the one who is a better cook.

Maria of the piggery is also not doing well. She is completely down with malaria. Last week she had gone to attend the last funeral rights for her mother so they had to do a lot of cooking and organizing. It rained a lot those three days and eventually, she came back and fell sick. She is receiving treatment so her husband showed me around and the pigs are doing well. The rain has ensured they have enough feeding options in the sweet potato leaves in the garden.

Took the long drive to see Sarah of the goats and she is doing well. The goats have plenty of grass as the rains have blessed most of the region. She was also busy doing her garden work, trying to weed and plant some beans for the season.

Rehema was out again on her laundry rounds so I was unable to see her in person but we spoke and she is okay. The school fees that she was worried about were dealt with so she had gotten a customer who needed some laundry work to be done and I am glad she can juggle laundry and the hairdressing gig.

I want to thank you as always that we got more work done especially with moving the tank. I will continue this week to visit the rest of the Mamas and see how they are doing. We are so grateful for everything that you do for our Mamas. It has been an incredible journey. On a sad note, this week I lost someone close and I had to be away for a few days. Reminds me of how short life can be but in all things we celebrated the good he has done for a lot of us and other people. He was a kind and humble man. That is what we will remember as he was a man full of love and encouragement.

Mwebale nnyo,

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