It has been a good start to October down here as we had quite an amount of rain that has graced our lands in Uganda even though it has cost us a bit as they have been surely heavier than usual. It is a reminder for us as a country to continue to protect and preserve our environment and I can’t count how many advertisements have hit our airwaves about conservation. It is a global concern that I sometimes pride myself on being a part of it, constantly being aware of my contribution towards preservation.
Our work surely too has continued and we have made some way in trying to support several of our Mamas even though this week one of the partnerships we helped to forge broke off. One partner Angel decided to call it quits and moved on to another country. I was told that she went to Turkey to work as a house helper. She sold most of the items we had given them (With Jolly) to start up a salon and all was going well until last week when she brought whatever was remaining to Francoise’s home (Jolly’s mum). She did not say a thing about her going but only found out a few days later after her real mother called Francoise. She left a debt for rent at the landlord’s shop which means she had been saving the money from the salon to aid her travel. Lucky for Jolly, the items were not confiscated so she is looking towards a fresh start.
Harriet the tailor looks to be doing better at the moment. When we met she looked happy and it was a good sight to see. She had been having some difficulties with getting school fees for her daughter but looks like Lady Luck kissed her forehead and the tides have changed a bit. She has been able to send her daughter to school with a portion of the fees made.
Lilly is also doing okay with her sewing and silverfish business. She recently got an order to sew tablecloths again and this was good. It came quite timely as she needed to send Philip her son to school. She has also called to order another batch of silverfish from the landing site in Entebbe, which was good to hear and also see that both her businesses are doing okay.
Pulakiseda is also doing well in the market. She was able to pay for her daughter’s school fees last week and it was good to hear. The market had been very tricky these last few weeks but I am glad that she was able to sort out her daughter who is also attending her final year of school this term. The grocery stall still looks good even after these payments so it fulfills some of our plans to ensure that Mamas can remain in business even after taking out a large portion to pay school fees.
The momentum is increasing for Hadija and she is doing incredibly well at the moment. It has been months since they were last disturbed by the local authorities who distort small businesses like these. I have been observing her over the last few weeks and it is good to see her growing slowly but steadily.
Semmy is also doing well. The ingredients for making soap are now done so she will be heading to town to buy some new ingredients. When I went to visit, she was teaching or tutoring one of her pupils by the field. She does this every two or three times a week as it is another form of income-generating activity as the parents of these pupils pay her extra for extra classes.
Justine has healed progressively very well and she walks much better than she has in the past few weeks after that burn on her left foot. The rains have interrupted most of her movements but the business is not looking bad. The supply of vegetables is still not at the best as even normal buyers like me can’t get a lot of stuff. Onions have become more and more scarce due to the opening of other regional markets in East and Northern Africa in Sudan and UAE respectively.
Angel finally was able to get some matooke and a few other vegetables to add to her stall. She was happy that I finally visited her with the stall looking stocked. I bought some little matooke for myself as I am not a huge fan of plantain (Green bananas). She was able to take back the kids to school too, so it was a good atmosphere when I visited.
Finally, we were able to get some funds to ensure that the tank that belongs to Jane who is moving to her new home, goes along with her tank. She had failed to come up with the fees to move it so we are going to be able to do it. We will also get Henry a few more chickens to ramp up their egg-laying abilities. He has 6 birds so we will try and get him 5 more so he can have enough female birds to get a good number of eggs.
Thank you for your sincere support. It goes a whole lot of mile in ensuring that these wonderful kids gain an education and a livelihood for the Mamas. We are so grateful as ISEE family and Society that these Mamas have a new hope.
I hope that you are well. September has been kind to us down here as we have continued to be kind. A lot more rain and we have been told that this might be the same for this season. A friend in Kenya was also telling me about her organization and trying to lobby for work that involves preparing people living in the slums of Nairobi. Preparing them for the forthcoming rains that might destroy and affect their houses.
The highlights of the week involve having cleared the PUL that is used to make sanitary kits reached and cleared for the taxes and other fees. The problem is that it has taken longer yet inland to reach me. It has taken about 25 emails back and forth trying to get it delivered to my home from where it will reach its intended destination. This is good because even amidst the challenges faced, reusable pads will be delivered to more girls within the boundaries of Uganda so that they can stay in school during this phenomenon.
This week, our work continued with our wonderful Mamas as they continue to struggle and thrive in their communities. The economy has continued to take huge deep as fuel prices have soared through the roof with a little going for as much as 5,450/- Uganda shillings per litre. This is about $2 CAD for just a litre of fuel. This makes transport more expensive hence increasing the costs of all goods and services — even the essential things like posho, beans, and tomatoes.
Amina has started okay with her business. It took her a couple of days to measure the powder soap in portions that would match her target in terms of recouping the invested capital. It had to be measured carefully because it is easy to make losses in this kind of business. The extra bag was easier as it was already measured and packed by machines at the factory. I am glad we had this going already so she can be ready for the next term which starts in a few days from now. She has one daughter who is in a candidate class so it is very paramount that she finishes this level of school. However, she is loving her business and I have had to supervise quite closely to ensure we are on course with growth and consistency most importantly. She goes out and sells during morning hours and comes back in the afternoon to also sell some local herbs at her home. She has started to limit the involvement of the kids because she fears making losses at the initial stage. I encouraged her to involve them more because they are beneficiaries hence the need to involve them.
Justine has also continued to heal and it was good to see her standing comfortably on her left foot this time around. The immobility has surely affected her activities because this burn hindered her from going to the market to do the shopping herself. These farmers’ produce are very tricky to buy especially if you are shopping for someone else. The buyer has to know what she wants and also know the prices as sometimes prices here will change according to the demand and supply of the produce. I got a call from her and from last week, they have significantly improved their home. She was worried about the support we gave her, and I reminded her that our interest is in them having stable homes and sustainable businesses. Otherwise, she had repaired her entire floor and walls on the outside. She had one of the people she cared for in the past who came by to see her and saw what had happened so he asked her to call the builder and they made the respective upgrades. She had one unfortunate even when her grandson was involved in some unfortunate activities that he had to be apprehended.
Annet has continued to struggle with her soap unlike Semmy who had home training and now makes incredible soap all by herself. I am tempted to bring her the trainer so she can have that going too. It was hopefully the plan that would ensure she increases her income but looks like we are lagging behind a bit on this one. We will have to buy her a measuring scale because it looks like this scale is what elevated the productivity of the soap making. It had been losing form and taking longer to dry. The good thing is that she still has a lot of ingredients and I have now been inclined to support her again with another training and weighing scale. This will help her a big deal in stabilizing and making the soap. I was happy to see her in the market buying books, tissue paper, socks and other small things for the little ones to go to school. This is the reason why we empower our Mamas to be able to send their kids to school.
Irene is also doing okay at the moment. The salon looks great and I hope it can be kept that way. Like Amina, Irene also has a daughter in a candidate class and I would like her to also go through this grade of school. I love the fact that the silverfish business worked out for her well and now she has restocked her salon along with another lady from the community to try and create a stable business.
Hadija is also doing great at the moment. Just the rains destabilize her but only a little because when it rains and the ground is wet, work is a bit hard as she works on the street as you can imagine. Her foot is doing well too and though she battles the loss of her daughter, she seems to be accepting her grief and living through it. I love seeing this woman work. She is focused and determined to make it work at whatever cost.
Rovence is also doing well. Although the food has been increasingly expensive, Rovence has managed to keep business going and customers are slowly improving. The customers had been very scarce recently but things have seemingly improved over the last week and she is happy about it.
My hunt for Anna M, who has worked with us before in our reproductive health clinics and then turned to Mama Nguvu has been very tough for me to catch. I like Anna and I have tried my best to ensure that everything works out. I have followed her up and encouraged her to do projects but to no fruition. I am learning to let people loose. I will continue to look out for her and see if there is a chance.
Florence has not had the best of time these last few weeks as she is struggling a bit with her salon business. Otherwise, the chips are doing well and her peanut butter business is doing fine too. Her baby is doing well and her daughter (Angel) is also doing good as she has been sick recently. She has stomach ulcers and they tend to affect her during school days.
Francoise is doing okay. I love that she is looking incredible, her skin/face that had an irritation is now gone. She thought it was more of the water than anything else so I asked her to only wash her face with boiled water or purified water and it looked like it worked. Of course, beans and maize are a bit scarce but she is very positive this time. I am so glad that things are going well for her.
Uganda has been both a blessing and chaos at the same time. We have had so much rain in the last few days including today which went for more than 5 hours. Chaos in a way that we had three bombs removed from public places like churches and another place I can’t recall.
I got to meet Semmy too at her home this time with her son. She is doing well, getting ready for school as the two boys and a girl have to go back. She has been on a spree of making soap and has restocked more than several times. She is doing very nice blocks of soap and involving her son who has been very active in both making and selling soap. She had to look for another component to add to the soap because it was wearing out so fast as customers noted. She is grateful for the business and has not been afraid to mention it as she is trying to save up for the children’s school fees.
Jane is doing okay. Her season has been such a mess as the rain has surely affected her water sales as people tend to harvest rainwater. Therefore, she is surviving on her paperbag business in the meantime, which is also not doing great. She has a grandson who broke his leg and they have been trying to rehabilitate him and get him back on the road and most importantly school. They have tried local healers and she says they have made way.
Henry is doing well with his chickens and pigs. The downside is they gave us two cocks and yet she wanted one out of the six we bought. He wanted more female birds to have more eggs and chicks at the end but he is one hen down. The other thing is that we expected that we would get local birds but by the look of the eggs he is getting, it looks like they are not entirely local birds. Local birds tend to lay white eggs and these are not white but rather pink. Otherwise, they are giving him several eggs and if he could increase the feeding, he could get more eggs.
Immaculate’s drug shop is not doing bad at all. One of the attending girls is preparing for her graduation ceremony as a nurse so she will now start to attend without supervision. She said that one of the challenges is that some drugs are still not available but whatever they have is serving the community well and they can’t complain much really.
Harriet is doing okay. Of course some challenges especially with her customers taking too long to pick up their clothes because the kids return to school next week and her daughter has not even shopped for her schooling items. This is the daughter that her husband has refused to support because he is not the real father. Otherwise, she is grinding more and trying to ensure she buys her daughter the books and scholastic items required for the third term.
Maria is doing okay. The piglets have grown fast even though food has been hard to get. The guy who supplies her with the special food mix has not delivered it as his supply too has been very limited. She has therefore vamped up the greens thanks to the rains. The piglets are getting a lot of milk and it has caused the piglets to grow but also become sick a bit so she has cut down on some of the wet foods.
Rehema is doing okay. A little low on hair products but has been struggling a lot with one of her grandsons who is ill with measles and has many sore bumps on his body. This has affected her work generally as she works at home. Otherwise, I would like her to continue on that trail to make sure that her business survives.
Thank you again for your unending support to this program and we couldn’t do any single part of it without you. This coming week, we look to increase the number of chickens for Henry as it looks more doable, plus assist Annet with her soap endeavour so she is back up and running. We appreciate you immensely.