‘My name ‘Musobya’ means ‘mistake’,’ explains Kira Farm graduate, Ibrahim. ‘I faced so much poverty and problems as young boy that I began to believe I really was a mistake.’

‘I felt I didn’t deserve to live and I completely gave up on myself - I went to bed without eating and I drank the dirtiest water in the village. When that didn’t kill me, I thought: ‘I’m going to sleep with girls who are HIV positive, as this will surely kill me.’

Although Ibrahim didn’t contract HIV, he did end up fathering a baby girl. ‘One night the mother dropped the little girl outside my hut, while I was sleeping. She left a long letter explaining that it was an embarrassment to have a child with a hopeless person like me, and that she wasn’t willing to raise a ‘mistake of a child’, with a ‘mistake of a father’.

Guilt and desperation

Ibrahim felt powerless in his new role as a father. ‘Instead of being happy that I had a child, it just broke me even more, he says. ‘I started thinking seriously about suicide, but I was worried that this would bring more shame on my family.’ Ibrahim felt guilty that he had brought another person into the world to lead a life as hopeless as his own. He would lock himself in his small hut for days, not wanting to look at his daughter.

The power of healing

Ibrahim believes his time at Kira was like a re-birth. ‘I had the best time of my life,’ he beams. During Ibrahim’s entrance interview he was asked about his most valuable possession. Ibrahim had never been asked such a question before and was shocked by how empty and poor his life was; he couldn’t think of anything. ‘I left the interview smiling but I went and cried until I could not cry any more,’ he recalls. Ibrahim knew he should have something to be proud of, not least a daughter, so he told himself his life had to change.

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Building trust

After 12 months acquiring vocational and life skills at Kira Farm, Ibrahim returned to the poverty of his family, who in desperation had sold off most of their land. ‘I knew life wasn’t going to be easy, but thanks to the business training I’d received I was excited about setting up a small enterprise,’ he says.

Ibrahim needed a loan to rent some land but this wasn’t going to be easy due to his bad reputation in the village - he realised he would need to build trust. After contacting some former Kira trainees who had faith in his ability to change, he was able to get a loan from the village savings group for £200.

From poverty to profit

Ibrahim used the loan to rent two acres of land for farming. ‘Thanks to the method of Farming God’s Way (conservation farming), my gardens are doing so well,’ he says. ‘I expect to get a profit of £650 in my next harvest.’ Ibrahim is now employing two young people, and is trying to positively influence them by sharing his faith and the notes from the Strength (spiritual) programme at Kira, as he is aware they have been living desperate lives too. ‘To us the garden is like a church and I am seeing their lives transformed,’ he smiles.

Example of hope

Ibrahim has also started a shoe-selling business and employs a girl to look after it while he tends to the garden. He has managed to pay back some of his loan and is saving £12 a month. The outlook is positive. ‘I am no longer seen as a mistake in my family, but a pillar of hope,’ he says.

‘I am building a wonderful relationship with my daughter and I am an active member in my church, working with young people to share my skills in farming and restorative justice.’ Using the tree nursery knowledge he acquired at Kira, Ibrahim has raised a number of trees that he will be planting around the village as he educates the community about Uganda’s problem with deforestation.

‘Thank you, Amigos, for turning my life around,’ he smiles.