ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

Update from Geoffrey Omongin’s brick making project

{ This is the email Geoffrey sent us regarding his brick making project. Geoffrey has been an excellent communicator with us regarding all aspects of the project — both successes and challenges. Read on to get a birds-eye view of the project so far as well as some idea about the direction for the future. –ed}

DATE: SUNDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER, 2020

THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND MANAGEMENT

ISEE SOLUTIONS SOCIETY

Dear Sir/Madam,

Re: SUMMARY REPORT ON THE PROGRESS OF BRICK MAKING PROJECT

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the entire Board of Directors, partners, donors and all the friends of ISEE Solutions Society for reading through my project proposal, believing in the project ideas and therefore availing financial contributions of UGX 2,500,000. I am greatly humbled by your love and sacrifice. 

This report covers:

  1. General updates on the progress
  2. Achievements
  3. Challenges
  4. Conclusion
  1. General updates on the progress of the project

Upon getting a piece of land (where to make bricks from), we started clearing the site which was followed by digging out and mixing of clay. This has been done in three phases so far. We have produced 37,756 bricks. The area we have dug is smaller than the remaining area. We are estimating the number of bricks to be produced from the remaining piece of land between 40,000- 45,000.

Meanwhile we still have a heap of ready clay which we have not yet used for making bricks. This heap is likely to produce 7,280 bricks. We would have finished this heap by last week. We were seriously affected by heavy rains.

The first bricks are now dry and ready for baking. Altogether we have ten piles of bricks. Other bricks have not yet been heaped in piles. When they are fairly dry we shall pile them.

As soon as we are done with the remaining heap of clay, we shall resume digging and mixing more clay.

  1. Achievements:

The following among others are some of the achievements registered so far:

  1. We were able to get a piece of land on lease for one year. The land measures 30*30ft. We shall use the land until we have exhausted all clay that can be dug out.
  2. Lives being transformed. Some of these youths were once exposed to drugs and reckless living. We have always had sessions of interactions. I have continued to share with them my personal experience and testimonies of how I became what I am today as well as my future ambitions. This is the beginning of many more lives being touched.
  3. Very committed and hardworking youths who have been involved in making the bricks
  4. Acquisition of skills and temporary employment of the youths. We have worked consistently with 7 youths from the very beginning. These youths have been trained and equipped in brick making, care for bricks, marketing, etc. On top of the skills, these young men and women are also being taught acceptable life skills and values such as teamwork, decision making, cooperation, ability to accept constructive criticism, time management, etc. They have appreciated the need to work and be responsible citizens as they grow and become adults. 
  5. We have been able to make 37,756 bricks in a span of one month and two weeks of serious work.
  6. The size of the piece of land. We are expecting to make between 60,000 to 80,000 bricks from the land. The owner of the land allowed us to dig as much as we can. 
  7. We have continued to provide breakfast and lunch to these young men.
  8. Teamwork has been exhibited. We have continued to work together.
  9. Regular checking of the bricks even in my absence. These young men and women have continued to check on and take care of the bricks to ensure that they are well covered.
  1. Challenges:

Below are some of the challenges we have encountered:

  1. Delays in getting the site for making bricks. It took us almost two weeks to get land. This delayed the start.
  2. Limited space for making bricks. The space given by the owner of the land is not enough for drying out bricks compared to the man power we have. This made us not to work some days. Some parts are water logged. Drying of bricks becomes hard. The piles of bricks have also occupied some space.
  3. Change in weather conditions. Some bricks were damaged by heavy rains. However, the polythene papers which we bought greatly helped us. We have used them for covering the bricks. The rains have also caused delays. Whenever it rains in the night, we do not make bricks the following day. The ground becomes wet and slippery. 
  4. Logs and firewood for baking/burning the bricks. We have not yet procured logs for baking the bricks. According to two experts in baking bricks made from pure clay whom I engaged two weeks ago, we shall need 2.5 trucks (canter) of logs to bake 60,000. Each truck costs UGX 650,000-700,000 (transport inclusive). And UGX 250,000 as labour for baking bricks.  {approximately $250 CAD per truck load for fuel and transport, plus an additional $90 for labour for the baking. –ed}
  5. Negative influence. Some people who are also in brick making business have tried to negatively influence my students. They have continued to tell them to demand immediate payments for the work they have been doing. Two weeks ago one of the young men (John Kyagulanyi) tore the clothes he was using for making bricks before me. He demanded immediate payments, walked away and threatened never to come back. I allowed him to pour out his heart. I gave him a phone call and requested to have a meeting with him to which he accepted. He apologised when I met him and promised to come back to continue. He will be reporting back on Monday 14th September, 2020. 

Conclusion:

I would like to once again convey my heartily gratitude to the Board of Directors and all the friends of ISEE Solutions Society for choosing to invest in our lives through this project.  

We continue expressing our commitment to changing lives through this project.

Thanks

Geoffrey Omongin

{If you are interested in contributing to this project, you can always donate through the PayPal link on the side of this page, or you can e-transfer directly to Erika by sending an email to erika (@) iseesolutions (dot) org. Just include a note explaining where you’d like your donation to go and we’ll make sure it gets directly to Geoffrey. As always any donation over $20 CAD is eligible for a tax receipt. Thank you so much for your support! You are making a difference in the world!}

September 11, 2020 update


Kko deeyo! “Co-dde-Yo”

This is another greeting that originates from one of the tribes in the East of Uganda called the Basoga, pronounced as “Bar-so-ga”. These people come from the districts of Jinja, Kamuli, Iganga, Idudi and Namutumba. They use this phrase when they are greeting each other regardless of age and gender. This language is called Lusoga from the Basoga tribe. There you go with your newest Ugandan/African language if you may like. 

A very typical small food vendor. this is Aida’s chip shop

I hope all of you have been keeping well. It has been a while since we last communicated under this segment. We have been communicating with you obviously on our Facebook page and I hope it was a good read and that you enjoyed it. 

Uganda has now hit 3,776 Covid 19 cases, 1,741 recoveries and 44 deaths as of 10th September 2020. It is sad to say that the numbers will be ever increasing, mainly because of the abuse of the pandemic guidelines. More and more people are flocking into the central district of Kampala which has become a hot spot for the virus. The only consolation for us has been the fact that authorities here are arresting and fining people caught not wearing masks in public. This week I actually witnessed one such incident on one of the roads in a place called Wandegeya, where police were arresting cyclists and passengers not wearing masks. At least someone is trying to push people into doing the right thing by wearing their masks to protect other people.

a majestic ugandan kitty cat

For me here work has been as usual, with the expected challenges of transportation but the difficult one has been the unpredictable rains that have been falling this week. The rains famously make things incredibly slow in Uganda, so much so that we will use this classic excuse of “Sorry, I was late because it was raining.”

 Kampala is stalled when it rains as traffic becomes incredibly slow so whenever the rain caught me in town, I would just board the next taxi home. 

It usually will take at least 2hrs to 3hrs for me to get home when it rains but normally anywhere between 1-1.5hrs to get home. It gets quicker though when I use private means or drive by myself because I don’t have to sit in a taxi for 30-45min waiting for the taxi to fill up. Our public taxi service will carry between 14-27 people but due to the pandemic they smallest taxi will carry 8 people for social distancing. 

Due to the above factors I have been able to visit the following mamas: Lilly A, Betty N, Jennifer N, Florence A, Rovence N, Christine N, Cissy N and Prossy L.

Lilly

I missed seeing Lilly A on about two occasions this last week when I was in her area. I finally managed to get a hold of her and we spoke a bit about her and the business. She is still struggling with the fact that she has not had any business yet and the last business she got was in February when someone ordered over 35 pairs of school uniform shorts. The sad thing is that just as she finished sewing, the lockdown was initiated and schools were closed. This resulted in not picking up the shorts and non-payment so Lilly has been holding onto the shorts since then. Speaking with her she said one of the things she needs is to get more fabric and start making things for sale. This has not been easy for her because she has not been making money so she can’t afford to buy the fabric to pick herself up yet. 

Betty N is in the process of moving into her new location. With her husband Betty has managed to build a home for themselves so they are going to move any time soon. This moving means that they are able to reduce the pressure of paying housing rent, which will most likely help them to focus on the tailoring school development. They will have more money hopefully to take on the challenge of developing this business and I am excited to see where they go with this.

I was speaking with her and she was really excited to tell me about this achievement. They have been working hard to make this dream come true. Betty said that they will now look for a good location for the tailoring school as they prepare for the lifting of the lockdown on schools and other tertiary institutions. 

Business is picking up for Jennifer N. The shoes they are now receiving are much better than the ones they have had in the last few months. The shoes that she is getting are better and attracting a good return for her. The buyers have also increased in number and the business is flourishing at the moment. 

She is also happy partly because they might open up schools very soon according to reports coming through from the government. The Ministry of Education is putting up Standard Operating Procedures for schools, that whichever school is prepared then they can open. This though has attracted a lot of debates over what about those schools that might not meet the requirements. What will happen to the students? This is the big question.

Florence

After suffering from malaria for about a week, Florence A has recovered really well. I visited her at the salon and she was back on her feet and plaiting hair again. The business is picking up well after the acquisition of the hair dryer and her customers are liking it. The dryer is efficient and effective as it dries hair quickly and better. Previously Florence was only doing braids and plaiting because she had no dryer so the daily hair retouch and washing business is now booming. This daily business is what brings in the money because plaiting is a long job and it’s done once in a while, someone won’t retouch it weekly. This is why Florence is really happy about getting back to work after this sickness. 

Rovence

Rovence N is on the road to complete recovery from that swollen thumb. She is happy the thumb has responded well to the treatment, reducing the swelling and improving the motion in all directions. She can bend it and move it to hold the knife to be able to do cutting jobs. This is particularly good because before this she wasn’t able to hold the knife well, leaving the job to one of her girls.

Otherwise the restaurant has picked up well and the number of the customers is growing daily and the food looked great. She wanted to serve me but I had no time to sit because it had just stopped raining and I had other Mamas to visit. Rovence’s challenge these past few weeks as the number grows has been the limited resources she has to buy more food. The food gets finished quickly and yet people come asking for food. She used to cook until almost 4pm but now food is done by 2:30-3pm.

Christine N our poultry and piggery farmer has fully completed her storied  building and is now waiting for the delivery of her piglets. I spoke to her and she said that the piglets would be available in a few weeks as the piglets are yet to be weaned. The farmer we are buying from advised us to wait until they are a month old, then he will make them available for us. Christine said that the breed he has is really good and I hope they can actually benefit her. 

Her poultry segment is doing well. She has taken about 10 trays of eggs to be fertilized and hatched in the next two weeks. She will have about 250 chicks when the hatch is done. She is very organized because she has already ordered 3 bags of maize which she will mill and get chicken feed for her new chicks. 

Cissy

Cissy N is not doing anything at the moment. I met her at her house cleaning so we sat outside her house and had a small chat. Cissy is expecting some money from somewhere that she wants to use to re-establish herself. I will be waiting on her to give me a call as she prepares herself to re-launch the business.

Gertrude

The difficulty in getting a place and the lockdown on schools has caused Gertrude N to request for a time-out. She has been looking for a place to relocate her business but all efforts have not been fruitful. Gertrude deals in computer and stationery services which include typing, printing and photocopy services. Her primary clients are university students who require these services, so having closed schools it was going to be difficult for her to manage the business. When we met in town this past week, she asked me to give her some time to rethink until schools are opened. She will then decide on the course of action to take. 

Henry at the animal feed store

Uganda was very hot and dry until the rains came, and the heat affected Prossy’s pigs very severely. Their normal diet is at least partially composed of green vegetables (mainly yam leaves) harvested around the property but the heat and lack of water means that it is difficult to get them sufficient food. At the time of my visit the pigs had almost nothing to eat, so I was compelled to go and buy them some food. I bought them 50kgs of maize brand which Prossy and Henry will mix with salt and silver fish. This will at least help them to balance the feeding with the greens from the garden. Now that the rains have returned, Prossy’s vegetables will grow so they will have that to feed the pigs. She was really grateful for the gesture of the food and I asked her to ensure she fed them well and also gave them enough water. 

I also met our prospective partner called Joseph. Joseph is a Sudanese living in one of the Refugee Camp settlements created by the Government of Uganda, in a place called Kiryandongo. Along with his fellow refugees, he has created an organization to help empower youth and women in the camp. Joseph and his team want to use metal fabrication as a skill to teach them to make charcoal stoves as a main product, but also do other fabrication works like doors, chairs, windows and many other items. The hope is that creating jobs and opportunities for young people in the camp will serve as a way to protect the youth from succumbing to negative peer pressure and falling into a cycle of drug abuse and theft. The meeting I believe went well and we like working with new groups and perhaps this will be one.

I want to thank you all for your continued support and following the work that we do. We are so grateful and we want to continue to encourage you to support us  but also to protect yourselves and families too. We still need you all and your lives are precious to our world.

Thank you!

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda.

ISEE Solutions Society.