By Turyasingura Nelson, Programme Officer Community Development Najjembe Project
For many youths especially girls that inevitably drop out of school, a little bit is all they have within their resource constrained communities. Often they marry as children and acquire their very basic needs with difficulty. They lack money to further their education, feed well, access quality health care and the struggle just to get by is relentless.
In Tegga village located in one of SAO Uganda’s supported communities of Buikwe district, I met Nabisere Margaret who had dropped out of school due to her care taker’s inability to avail her education requirements and earned a living from weeding people’s plantations. Married, and already a mother, Margaret sounded isolated as she opened up about her constant struggles with feeding her children, availing their education requirements and other needs. Her unemployed husband hardly provided any support to the family and her children’s battle against nutrition related illness was evident. Margaret heeded to joining Tegga Youth Group one of the structures benefiting from SAO Uganda’s programme in the area. There she saved 500 Uganda shillings on a weekly basis and steadily gained from trainings and the other benefits of group membership.
Today, Margaret earns an average of 10,000 Uganda shillings as profit out of baking and selling cookies and doughnuts. In her 3-months competence based Training by SAO Uganda, Margaret learnt how to bake, handle customers, package and market her products. In her words she narrates
“I think if it was not for SAO Uganda my life would be hopeless and fruitless. My day could take long to end due to deep thoughts about day to day survival. But now, am kept busy all day and I do not know how time goes by for the day to end. I am able to provide my children’s basic needs, feed them better and above all, my husband is so pleased with me.”
Margaret now thinks beyond ability to cloth are self and the children, have enough food, kerosene and other most needed consumables in the house. She confidently shares her plan to construct her own baking unit at home and also plans to pass on the skills to other needy youths in the village in order to achieve bulk production and collective marketing, practices that she learnt about during the group trainings by SAO.