Monday, 25 February 2013

Day 8 - Plans Coming Together

Before we got started this morning we went on a walk around the outter school grounds with Edward. He showed us the fields where they grow bananas, cassava, sweet potato, paw paw and jackfruit to feed the school. We also saw the pigs and new piglets, which are sold for income.

Since my last visit the school has built a well. This is clean water but is about 5 minutes walk from the school (without full jerry cans). The children all go for water at the end of the school day. Edward says they have a pump and filter and hope to pump it up to the school one day, but can't yet afford the piping.

This morning we had a typically mad Ugandan conversation with Benedict. He was telling us how he doesn't like to eat ants because sometimes their legs stick in your throat. He's fine with grasshoppers though.

Then of course we moved on to witchdoctors. There was a woman in the office this morning who is being assisted by CALM. She showed us her arm which was swollen. She said that someone had out a charm on her and her arm got infected. It is a common belief that infections are caused by charms. Also, in these situations people don't go to hospital because 'sometimes when you go to hospital with this you die'. Ironically rather than realising that these deaths are due to leaving it too long to go to the hospital, they attribute them to going to the hospital itself. So instead they use a local herb and rub it hard up and down the arm until the skin breaks and the pus is released. Then they might consider going to the hospital to have the wound treated. Ben doesn't believe in witchcraft, despite coming from the very tribal North of Uganda. He does believe that there are psychological effects of believing in curses though and that people think themselves into illnesses.

We got the costs this morning for some things that need doing at the school, put down payment for Mariam's latrine and confirmed visits for families requesting small business loans. By tomorrow afternoon we will have a full plan for the donation money and will be able to help quite a few people with it. So exciting!

I'm feeling really good about the latrine. Not only will it improve the health of Mariam, her children and their neighbours, but will also inject cash into the local economy - the diggers, handyman, concrete supplier, brick supplier and wood supplier will all be local and will benefit from this order.

For the next two days we are focussing on requests for small business loans. This would mean donating the loan money to CALM, overseeing goods purchase as well as CALM providing training on book keeping, business plans and household budgeting. When the money is repaid it becomes a donation to CALM to use where they feel is appropriate.

We also have some brochures from UNICEF who are doing free immunisations and some healthcare. The brochure is in English though so Israel translated it for the families we saw.

The first woman we saw is called Margaret. We went to the school where she works earning 60,000 shillings a month (around £15). Her children also receive tuition as part of her package. For this reason she wants to stay in this job, but also wants to start a small business selling women's shoes and handbags. Her sister would do this for her while she is at work and Margaret would take over at 4pm daily. Margaret is pregnant and I'm concerned that she is working in a kitchen. Here, this means being in a reasonably enclosed room with large coal fires, breathing in a lot of smoke. I put to her that perhaps her sister would be better here with Margaret selling the shoes. She didn't seem to excited about that idea.

Margaret had run a small business before, however her husband who is an alcoholic, took her money and so she wasn't able to purchase any further goods to sell. I'm obviously very worried that if we give her a loan that he will just take her money again. She assures me that they are separated and while they live in the same house they are in separate rooms and she has a lock.

It's really encouraging to see someone thinking outside the box and being so enterprising but the husband is a real worry.

Next we went to Mariam's house. She was home and we were able to discuss the latrine with her. She was very thankful. We gave her also some children's clothing that we were given to bring from the UK.

We discussed with Mariam that she had left the child home alone and that she needs to avoid doing this. She was asking for a start up loan for some land to grow crops on. As this would mean travelling far and leaving the child we said this would not be appropriate. Her other idea was a charcoal selling business where she will use a loan to purchase large bags of charcoal and rent shop space. She can make about 20,000 shillings profit a week doing this.

We went to the local shop space to check that no one else is already selling charcoal there and it's looking like a go ahead.

Tomorrow we will see the remaining 4 loan candidates and be able to make a decision.

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