Olivia’s father was a soldier from Tanzania who came to Uganda to overthrow Idi Amin. Although the Tanzanian army helped Uganda, they had a reputation for brutality and were known for committing rape and murder.

‘When my mother fell in love with my father, her family were appalled,’ explains Olivia. ‘My mother’s family were rich and had lots of cattle and land for farming, but my father was a soldier and penniless.’

Breaking taboos

After Olivia’s parents married her father had to move onto land owned by his in-laws because he had no land or property of his own. This is a taboo thing to do in Kiganda culture – and there were serious consequences.

‘My extended family tried to poison us a number of times, it wasn’t just my father they wanted to kill, they also wanted to kill me and my siblings because we were a threat to the family land.

‘On many occasions we found witchcraft items on our doorstep in the morning; we wouldn’t go out for days because we were afraid for our lives.

Desperate to escape

‘We begged our father to take us away to his family in Tanzania, but to our disappointment he told us he had been a homeless orphan. He had joined the army so he could die a hero, rather than simply die on the streets.

‘Day to day we struggled to get by because my mother was only given a small portion of land from her family, and we simply couldn’t grow enough crops on it to feed us all. To make matters worse, my father had a motorbike accident which made it difficult for him to work.

‘It pained me to think that we had come from a well-off family, and yet my siblings and I had to drop out of school because we couldn’t afford the fees – just because no one liked my father.’

Living without fear

When Olivia secured a place at Kira Farm Development Centre – a place where she could acquire vocational skills – it was a huge relief.

‘I had a great time on Kira. For the first time I was able to rest and relax because I wasn’t worried that someone was going to try and break in and hurt me.

‘At home I always had trouble sleeping, but by the second semester at Kira Farm I was getting in trouble for sleeping in! Saturdays were my favourite day because I could catch up on all the sleep I’d missed over the years.

‘The life skills training helped me to develop a sense of belonging. I used to hate myself for being born to a man that my family hated, but now I know Christ I have a great peace of mind.’

A new life

It wasn’t easy returning home after 12 months at Kira Farm, but the training Olivia received in restorative justice helped her cope with the negativity of her mother’s family and she says: ‘I no longer lived in fear.’

‘Thanks to my new conservation farming skills I have been able to turn our small piece of land into a goldmine.

‘We’d badly over-used our land and I knew we needed some manure, so I bought two rabbits so I could use their droppings – something I had seen done on Kira.

‘Within a short space of time the banana plants looked excellent, and I have been able to plant tomatoes, passion fruit and lots of vegetables,’ smiles Olivia.

‘Not only do we have food to eat, but our small garden has because a village market and I’ve already made £133 profit – I plan to save up my profits so I can buy another piece of land.’

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Booming business

‘I found a job in a local restaurant to get some capital to start my tailoring business – I really wanted to put into practise the tailoring skills I’d learnt at Kira,’ explains Olivia.

‘After three months waitressing I had made £100, so I left and put all my energies into tailoring and conservation farming.

‘Thanks to the profits from my new businesses I am able to put some money aside each week, and also help my family out with soap, sugar and many other household items.

‘We learnt about good hygiene at Kira and I have passed on my knowledge to my family and built a tippy tap (a tap made out of local materials for village settings). There has been much less sickness in my family and we have saved a huge amount on medicine.

Training others

‘Through my church I have trained 69 young people in urban farming and I’ve seen them apply it in their homes,’ adds Olivia.

‘It’s been really helpful joining the church because they are like a family to me and it means I don’t need to worry about the negativity from my mother’s family so much.

‘I hope they will change their attitude one day and stop hating us - I have seen them checking out my farming so that gives me hope!’

Olivia with her proud father

The tippy tap Olivia has built for her family - improving health and hygiene through handwashing