Greetings to you all dearest ISEE family,
I hope that you are all fairing well. It is already two weeks in the month of August and things in Uganda are not getting any better. With over 1,313 confirmed Covid 19 cases, 1,138 recoveries have been registered and 9 deaths. It was only last week and we had a total of 5 deaths. It is my sincerest wish and hope that we don’t register more deaths.
When we read these reports from the newspapers and other tabloids, one might say only 9 deaths but if put in perspective, these 9 people have families and friends so the effect of these deaths then multiplies. About 3 or 4 years ago when I was studying my Bachelors of International Business Management, I attended a course in Health and Wholeness. We were discussing a case study from the newspapers about the rate of maternal and infant mortality deaths, and the article said that the rate was at 27%. This number was so big that our professor asked the most sensitive question of how can we reduce this number and to what rate do you think it would be acceptable. The most popular answers ranged between 5% to 2%. His next question which actually challenged and changed my perspective or thinking about this subject was “What if, of the 2 people, 1 was your mother, wife or daughter?”. From that day, my perspective surely changed and my inspiration to support or to play a part in changing people’s lives grew much stronger. At that time in my life, I had just started working with ISEE Solutions Society and since then my passion grew stronger and stronger.
These and many more experiences during the course of my involvement with our organization, have laid firm foundations for the reason why I wake up every day and want to go out there. To support and also effect the impact that we want to see in the lives of the Mamas we work with.
At the end 2018, one of our Mamas called Jennifer B got married to a gentleman she met about a year earlier. She moved in with him and they started their little family and moved to a place called Entebbe. During this time, I lost contact with Jennifer because her phone wouldn’t go through. She later tells me that her phone was stolen and she wasn’t able to replace the exact number. Jennifer has faced many challenges since then, causing her to lose her business. She also had some medical challenges including having 3 miscarriages.
I got her number this past weekend when I was cleaning my house when I stumbled across the invitation card she gave to me. Just before the wedding in 2018, I visited her business and she told me about the good news. When I saw it, I was filled with joy because I remembered the husband’s name so I dialed it and thankfully he was at the end of the line to pick. He later called me and gave her the phone to speak to him. Unfortunately he has been searching for jobs here and there since he was laid off from his job due to effects of you know what (Covid 19 pandemic).
Jennifer has not yet even recovered fully but she is trying to look for an alternative to help her husband to support the home. Lucky enough she still has some of the items or most of the items from her restaurant business except the charcoal stoves. She is trying to look for another place to cook her food and sell. She told me that she had checked out for any spaces available at the nearest market. She spoke to the gentleman who is in charge and he said she needed to pay 200,000/- Ugandan shilling. I look forward to trying to figure out something for her because she was wonderful with her previous restaurant. She is full of courage and is very hardworking as a person.
We successfully helped Annet C get her cosmetics. She travelled all the way from a district called Mukono, in a little village called Kyetume where she has her salon business. During my last visit, she expressed the desire to acquire some cosmetics to help boost her salon services and sales.
We were able to buy a bunch of cosmetics and hair products which she will display at her shop and sell to her customers. She was really happy with what we were able to purchase with the funds we had available as an organization. She promised to try and maintain the level of stock in the coming months as it edges closer to the festive season when her business will be increasing.
Christine N’s animal house construction has already started. The builder is doing a really good job, building fast and steadily. He has laid the stones for the floor to cast the floor and cement. The frame poles and planks are already going onto the structure and it’s starting to look good.
There has been an issue with costs that have risen a bit and also some of the items bought were not enough but during my visit I took care of them. Otherwise apart from these small challenges everything is going on well and in no time the building will be finished by this time next week. Then we will see how to get her the piglets to her so she will start her project.
<ed: Thanks so much to Dr. Knox Middle School in Kelowna for fully funding this project for Christine>
As for Prossy L down in a place called Mitiyana, her pigsty constructed by the same builder is looking good. Her husband Henry always helps to clean the sty once a day, usually in the evening before the pigs go to bed. The pigs are looking healthy and well kept. They have grown bigger than the last time I saw them.
The rains have been giving them challenges as their garden is not growing a lot of food so feeding has been a bit tight for them. The other issue is that two of her pigs are pregnant and they can’t afford to not feed well. We are going to send her some funds to buy a bag of food to help boost the feeding of the pigs.
This week we empowered Asia N with a batch of new beverages as we had promised to do last week. I went down to the market where she operates and helped her purchase these items. They included soda, bottled water and biscuits. We hope these items will continue to grow her business as she continues to support her family.
Rashida S also got her two bags of charcoal this week. Earlier this week during my visit at her vegetable stall, we spoke about the fact that she was selling charcoal to supplement her business and it was very marketable. She was selling a whole bag of charcoal before the day ended. Yet she was struggling a bit with her tea business and her vegetables. It was because the sale from tea and vegetables was slow that she introduced charcoal to the business. This decision resulted from the fact that also the lady who used to sell charcoal next to her has not been coming for the last few weeks.
This gave her an opportunity to take on the business by bringing one bag of charcoal everyday due to the limited funds. This assessment encouraged us to buy her two bags worth 80,000/- Uganda Shillings and to round that up, we provided an extra 20,000/- which would help her buy her daughter some educational material for 2 weeks. This little girl has been helping her mother on a daily basis to attend to the shop.
Rovence N has been undergoing medication for her swollen right thumb that has greatly affected her work the last couple of months. She saw the doctor last week and was put on some form of medication that she was not able to buy because it was expensive at the moment. She resorted to buying small daily doses that she could afford.
My fear was that she would miss her medication so we decided that we would go buy her the full dose at once so she treats her thumb. I went down to her restaurant and helped her get her medication so she doesn’t have to miss it anymore.
Angel N has not been doing well. Her grocery store has been affected greatly the past few months. When I visited her this week the level of stock or items had dropped a bit. I asked her what was going wrong? She said her mother had fallen sick with a swelling appearing on her head and she needed surgery immediately. She helped fund most of the medical bills thereby affecting the level of her business. Fortunately her mother is now doing well and recovering from the surgery so that’s good. I hope that since her mother is well now, she will focus on growing her business yet again.
Returning from the village last week after dropping her two boys in Gulu, Lilly A is trying to revive her tailoring business but things are not going well. . In the past few weeks, she has only received one order to sew tablecloths. Her request was that we help her purchase some fabric so she can make a few items that she can send to the village to sell.
My last visit was at Francoise L’s home. She was not well. She had an allergy on her right eye that had caused her redness and some swelling. She visited the clinic and fortunately got some medication and the allergic reactions have reduced. On the other hand her business was doing great, the charcoal was selling and she had just finished the sale of all the cabbage that she had brought from her last village visit. She is considering a more consistent supply of these kinds of produce so she can sell them.
This week has been action packed for me right from the start ensuring that Annet gets cosmetics, Asia gets her beverages, Rashida gets her charcoal and locating Jennifer after two years of missing in action. I am glad that I was able to complete these tasks successfully with limited challenges. I was also able to deliver contracts to the respective Mamas at their business locations and I look forward to seeing them succeed in all their endeavours. My highlight from this week was surely finding Jennifer B and I look forward to seeing what happens in the near future for her.
I can never end my report without saying a big thank you to all you individuals, families and friends who donate and support the work that we do. It is our dearest hope that you continue to stay safe and stay healthy in these trying times.
Programs Director, Uganda
ISEE Solutions Society.