A hand to mouth existence

When Brenda’s sponsorship started, she lived with her parents, Mildred and Godfrey, and her two older siblings in a one-roomed, grass thatched banda hut.

Life was hard. Brenda’s family was relatively small by Ugandan standards; after giving birth to Brenda, Mildred experienced serious, near-fatal complications, which left her with little mobility. As a result, it fell upon Godfrey to care for the family, doing everything he could to scrape a meagre living so that his family could survive from one day to the next.

Godfrey worked hard, riding from village to village on his precious bicycle selling milk. On a good day he could make around 3,000 shillings (66p). He also laboured on other people’s land for a pittance and farmed the family’s land, planting wetland rice, maize and beans. The work was back breaking, and with a young family and a disabled wife, Godfrey was forced to bear the burden alone. A good harvest would mean surplus to sell, but if the season had been kind to Godfrey and his family, others would also have benefited from the favourable conditions so there would be a general excess of crops, meaning that prices were low. What money was earned from selling excess crops was used to buy sugar, soap, clothing and other essentials for the family.

Brenda and her siblings attended the government school, which was about 2 miles away. They all loved school, but Godfrey couldn’t always pay for books, uniform and school dinners, without which students aren’t allowed to attend.

"Thank you Amigos for lifting me up. I now have a bright future and I am happy. I used to sleep on a papyrus mat, but I now have a sponge mattress. I love the solar light which we were able to buy. My entire family is free from kerosene. I am looking forward to becoming a teacher because I love school."

The turning point

When Godfrey joined an Amigos Farming Group, it marked a turning point for the entire family. Two years after Brenda’s UK sponsors committed to supporting her, Godfrey tells his story:

“I am not sure where I would be without Amigos. We survived day to day and had no plans for the future.

“I worked my fingers to the bone scraping a living for the family, but it was never enough; the children were always turned away from school because they didn’t have the required books, uniform and money for meals. When they became ill, we had to rely on traditional medicine as there was no money for medicine or hospital fees.

“As part of the Farming Group, I received training in conservation farming, which opened my eyes to new methods. I also underwent growth mindset and business training. Together, this training changed everything; miracles started happening and our lives became transformed.

“On the Group Farming group land, I earnt about 100,000 shillings (just over £22), which was just the start I needed. I used the money to plant maize, which earnt me another 300,000 shillings (around £67). I invested this money as I had been taught in my business training and started a small stall, selling tinned fish, onions, tomatoes and cabbages. This enabled me to buy milk in bulk from farmers, which more than tripled my daily profits from selling milk.

“Since the first miracle of being part of a Farming Group, my family has seen many miracles and one of the greatest ones is that I could afford to get proper medical care for Mildred. She has now completely recovered and runs our retail venture.

“When I think back to where we were before, I can’t believe the transformation that has taken place in our lives. Before, we were broken and barely surviving. Now, we have our own business, money for healthcare, three meals a day and we all have footwear. Most importantly, we are all healthy and my three children can all attend school every day. Brenda’s sponsorship has brought my family blessing after blessing – there are no words to thank them.”

Pictured above: (left) Brenda with her mum, Mildred, in 2019 receiving Brenda's Christmas gift from her sponsors. She chose a mattress, new shoes and school bags. (right) Brenda in 2017, when she first became sponsored. 

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