Uganda Success Stories

In June 2017, I traveled to Uganda for volunteer purposes where I gained new insights about East Africa, networked and allowed me to provide different kinds of support to the families of Wakiso village. I needed a place like Wakiso where I could observe society from a different perspective and see how morality is interpreted and upheld. During my stay, I was assigned to work with KIFAD, we mobilized the community on family planning; trained the low-income families with skills to make nursery beds; educated them on having a healthy diet; shared the knowledge of savings and created several savings groups; we interviewed families to write literary ‘success stories’ that show how they transcend their difficulties, in order to induce the interest of other organizations in helping; and we identified community volunteers with specific tasks in order to keep the community busy (in an attempt to avoid depression/mental breakdown as well as prevent teenagers from being exposed to drugs and illegal activities). From this, I was able to develop deeper compassion for others and become self-ware and solution oriented.

KIFAD is an Ugandan community organization with a group of individuals with professional and academic experience who want the best for their community. They manage, plan, evaluate, and improve the lives of the residents of the Wakiso village. My task was based on interviewing a total of twenty-two KIFAD’s beneficiaries, members of the VSLA (Village Savings and Loans Association) a successful system created by KIFAD; and write success stories about their experience with the organisation.

KIFAD is able to generate awareness at the local level, expressing the local opinion, and being an inspirational vehicle for expressions of dissatisfaction or poor living conditions in the village.  They advocate for human rights and community wellbeing; and draw attention to the residents' problems which may result in economic investment and remedial action from the government.

Kawooya Lawrence is a forty-two years old HIV positive man with twelve kids. He joined the VSLA groups in 2014 and he expected to learn how to save, through economizing, planning and knowing when to spend. His only faith in life was to pray that not all his children were HIV positive but through the groups he was able to be more hopeful. Knowing that through savings, he could at least take a child to school.

Savings is a sacrifice that he does for the sake of his children. His main reason to save was to develop his family and construct a kitchen in order to provide clean and healthy food to them. In Mende-bulondo most of the residents rely only on selling goats because they are cheap, easier to take care and they grow fast. For Lawrence, after joining the groups, he was able to also sell chicken and increase his monthly income.

He sees the group as a safe and fast way to get a large amount of money because asking for a loan from a bank takes a long process and a full set of requirements, in the groups he knows he can trust the members.
KIFAD supported his son in learning mechanical techniques, which allowed him to pass on the training and improve his education. Lawrence is willing to share his experience with others and persuade them into joining this life changing experience.

"We were only able to eat meat on Christmas, our diet was based only on sweet potato, cassava and posho…After joining the groups, we are able to eat meat more often. "

Manakula Masituka is a forty-three years old married woman with five kids. She stopped her studies in primary 7 and ever since she has been learning from the school of life.
For her, saving is planning for the future, being able to startup a business and build a house. Before joining the VSLA groups her income came mostly of rearing chicken, now KIFAD went extra mile to enable her to develop economically.

Nakamanya Christine is a thirty-seven years old woman, with seven kids who owns one of the shops next to KIFAD, providing the employers breakfast every day. A friend noticed that her business wasn’t going well and encouraged her to join the VSLA groups.

Her business focuses on selling mandasi, chapatti and fried ground nuts. Through savings and loans, she was able to increase the capacity of the business, adding more capital and now she can support and sustain her whole family. She has asked a total of ten loans and has cleared all of them.

Being part of the VSLA groups allowed her to buy bricks to make her own house. Even though she doesn’t have a garden yet, she is financial stable to buy food. Before there were days they wouldn’t eat, now they eat every day and sometimes several times of the day.

She is the mom and the dad of the house, which forced her into having surviving skills. She has a son who benefited from KIFAD, he took a welding training, making windows, gates and any metallic good.

KIFAD is contributing to her personal development, she understands the importance of saving and how coming together is improving their lifestyle.

"I am happier because you can’t save individually…If I wasn’t in the group, I couldn’t even buy coal…"

Nakyejwe Janet is a forty-eight years old woman, with five kids, who wants to save in order to pay for her kids’ school fees. After losing her husband, it was challenging for her to pay for education alone.

In the VSLA groups, she found her strength and people who she could trust. He asked a total of eight loans hoping to pay schools fees. She considers education a priority and every semester she needs to ask for a loan.

Janet is also saving money for health treatment and she is grateful for KIFAD opportunities because the kids no longer get sick.

She has been the cooker of KIFAD since 2014 and she has benefited a lot from the organization, from receiving clothes to school material for her kids. Besides serving for KIFAD employers, she rears chicken which has increased her income. Her only challenge now is to pay the loans and she has paid them all so far.

" My kids are going to school thanks to KIFAD. One of child is studying senior 5, the other senior 2…They have come a long way and I am proud. The money is for the kids, they are everything to me…"

Bbosa Swaibi is a single man with seven kids, who joined the VLSA groups in the pursuit of learning. He intended to learn through the seminars and workshops ways of improving his business, how to invest and how to save.

Coming from a household where he was the only child, his knowledge of richness was having as many children possible. Today, he understands that savings is the only way he can have a better life and help his descents, he considers it a life insurance. He states that if he knew earlier how to save, he would avoid the illness of not saving, not having something to eat daily and lack of hope.

He has asked for a total of six loans in order to pay his children’s school fees and has paid all of them. He used to work for KIFAD for two years as a security guard and after joining the groups, he was able to start his business. He owns a shop, where he sells soda, eggs, airtimes, etc.

Bbosa had the opportunity to attend a mechanic seminar and finds it strategic to have as more skills as possible. He asks for more trainings in order to achieve more certificates because it’s a reminding of his self-worth.

"I wanted to understand the mentality of someone who saves because I have seen people through savings doing a lot for themselves…for example, buying a house."

Nakankagi Christine is a thirty-eight-year-old woman, the community volunteer of Kiwazzi, who has four kids and wants to improve the well-being of her family. She was encouraged into joining the VSLA groups in 2016 because of the advantages and outcomes of it.

Her mainly income come from her small shop and rearing pigs and chicken. The business wasn’t going well and being able to borrow improved her business and allowed her to take care of her family. KIFAD also helped her with the kitchen, the garden and with medication.

She has a sickle cell four years old child, she lamented that he used to fall sick every week before KIFAD assisted her. Last year, the child was in a critical stage, he had a liver problem, and KIFAD helped her financing the treatment.

She keeps saving, paying her loans and believing in KIFAD because they have never failed her. She thanks the organization for the amazing work and she is willing to persuade everyone in the village of Kiwazzi to join the groups.

"This is not what I was, before I had nothing…"

SSekkonde Godjrey is a young twenty-four-year old man who is passing on his training of leather works to his fellow trainees. He was referred to a training in 2015 through one of KIFAD partners. It was a four months training with tree sessions based on bid making; leather designing, which is learning how to make crafts, key holders, etc.; and making close shoes. He got a certificate and ever since he is sharing his experience and practicing. Last year, he trained nine people and is constantly inspiring others to never give up.

At senior six, he was unable to take his studies further. The grant supporting him couldn’t continue it and he had to find a way to support himself.

He always had a talent for drawing, which easily allowed him to be successful in learning leather works. Today, he is a leather works whole seller with contracts and a lot of connections. His products are unique and he gets most of his inspiration through the internet. Their prices range from 20,000 to 25,000 Uganda shillings.

KIFAD not only economically empowered him but also helped his family, providing them with medical treatment and assisting his trainees.

"I am working a lot to rent a house and help my mother and my sister."

Bitijuama Mamusoke is a forty-year-old mother, with five kids, who abandoned her studies in primary 3. Being a single and unemployed woman, she found all her hope on her oldest son.
Her son went through one year of mechanical repair training and now is able to bring food to their household. It is his full-time job now, he has several clients and he can fix motorbikes, machines, grass slasher and generators. Mubini Shafik is also able to share his knowledge and pass on the training.

He is taking care of his family and he is the main reason of their financial development. Before, their income was determined by the weather, because they were renting a land, where they used to grow beans, sweets potatoes and cassavas.

They learned a lot from KIFAD, from how to supplement their food to gain new diet habits (eating several times a day). Sometimes he gets injured but he sleeps better knowing that he can provide basic needs to his family.

"There were some days we wouldn’t eat, my son has helped me a lot…we are able to buy paraffin and food thanks to KIFAD."

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