‘We didn’t have much growing up, but our family was a happy one and I got along well with my four brothers and two sisters,’ says Teddy.

Sadly, Teddy’s happiness began to fade when she realised what it meant to be a girl in rural Uganda.

‘When I discovered my parents’ attitude to girls all the joy of growing up came to a stand-still,’ sighs Teddy. ‘We simply existed to pay for the family’s needs by getting married and providing a bride price for my parents.’

‘As every year passed I became increasingly scared about the fact I was getting older and I tried to look as young as possible. I even began to strap by breasts tightly to my chest, hoping no one would notice I was growing up.’

Arranged marriage

Teddy’s sister was married off at the age of 12 and her family received a cow, which they promptly sold to pay for the children’s school fees.

‘I was very scared,’ recalls Teddy. ‘I joined a church for protection, but I knew they couldn’t completely protect me unless I had something to contribute towards the family’s needs other than my hand in marriage.’

When the money raised from the sale of the cow ran out, Teddy had to leave school because the family couldn’t afford the fees anymore.

Next, her sister was married off at a young age so that Teddy’s brother could open a drug shop in the village.

‘God knows what problem my marriage was going to solve because I was clearly next in line before Kira Farm saved me,’ she says.

Life on Kira

‘I loved my time on Kira,’ smiles Teddy. ‘When I arrived I was very reserved and low in confidence, but the loving environment helped me to learn to love myself.’

‘Best of all, I knew the vocational skills I was learning were very valuable so I didn’t need to be afraid of marriage anymore. With my new skills I could help my family more than a bride price ever could,’ she adds.

‘At Kira we were celebrated for being girls – this was a new experience for me and I left the Farm with high self-esteem,’ she says. ‘I was so excited to show my family that I was worth more than marriage.’

Finding success

Teddy’s family were surprised to find a confident, outspoken, young woman on her return.

‘My family were poor, but I think part of the problem was that we weren’t cultivating our two acres properly which is why we never had enough food,’ she says.

Teddy learnt about conservation farming while at Kira Farm and was keen to share her knowledge with her family and join the Amigos’ farming group in her village.

‘The group noticed how much I knew about farming and chose me to be their group chairperson,’ smiles Teddy. ‘My family were very surprised because I had never have taken on such responsibility before.’

Led by her example, Teddy’s family have now all joined the farming group and learnt about conservation farming methods which result in far greater crop yields than traditional farming methods.

‘Our land is looking really healthy now and we have enough food to eat,’ beams Teddy.

A thriving business

Whilst at Kira Farm Teddy studied tailoring and she has now set up her own tailoring business. It proved so successful she has been able to use the profits to buy a stall in Lira central market. ‘Since I moved to the market my profits have doubled!’ she says.

As a result of Teddy’s hard work and new income, she is able to help the family buy medicine and purchase household essentials.

‘Today I am of value in my family and my village, so I don’t need to worry about being married off,’ says Teddy. ‘Best of all, they are so proud of me!’

‘I am so grateful to my sponsor, Julian, for giving me the opportunity to go to Kira Farm and change my life. Thank you!’