I was a huge disappointment from birth. I am told tha my parents wanted a boy, not a girl, so they were hugely disappointed when I was born, which is why my dad gave me the name ‘Komakech’, which means the ‘hated one’. My mum died a few weeks after giving birth to me, and my dad died soon after from malaria.

As an orphan with lots of siblings, we had to do the best we could to survive, but it was particularly tough for me because not only was I youngest, but I was also the ‘hated one’. We often went hungry and we couldn’t afford medicine if we were sick, so it was a miracle I survived. I have taken care of myself almost from the time I started to walk. My childhood consisted of digging in the fields and collecting water and firewood. I soon began to hate farming – just looking at a hoe made me sick. Life is hard in rural Uganda, especially if you’re a girl and farming is the only way to survive.

When I was nine years old, my grandmother took pity on me, she saw I was just skin and bone and brought me into her hut. Unfortunately, by that time she was very old and a couple of years later the roles reversed and I ended up looking after her. However, I was very grateful for the fact that I never went hungry when I lived under her grass-thatched roof.

When my grandmother died I had to move back with my siblings, and the peace and harmony I’d experienced in her home soon became a distant memory. My stepbrothers divided up the family land between them, cutting the rest of us out of any inheritance. All they’d ever wanted was to kick the rest of us off our dad’s family land.

As soon as I hit my teens, I looked everywhere for work. I wasn’t very successful; I couldn’t even find people to let me dig their land for a few shillings. The whole experience made me change my name from Komakech to Komagum, which means ‘the loved one’.

From Hatred to Love

‘I was delighted to be offered a place at Kira Farm and I can’t begin to tell you how much I loved my year there. For the first time in my life, aged 22, I felt cared for and greatly loved. Incredibly, Kira even made me fall in love with farming. I was blown away by the conservation agriculture techniques we learnt which meant you can farm a relatively small plot, but still get an amazing harvest. The courage and encouragement I received during our business training at Kira gave me the confidence and skills to be successful when I returned home

Finding Happiness

My life is improving every day. I am happy that, despite being name the ‘hated one’, God is using me to bring about peace and harmony in my family. I have put into practice the restorative approaches I learnt at Kira to reduce the fighting among my siblings, and things have improved immensely.

When I first came back to the village I secured a job as a tailoring teacher with a local vocational training college, thanks to the skills in tailoring I’d acquired at Kira Farm and the confidence I’d gained. I worked at the college for four months, earning enough money to set up my own hairdressing business in our village.

Today I can support myself and pay my rent, help my brothers and sisters, and save over £30 a month. And I’ve started farming again, opening up three acres of family land. I’m expecting a profit of over £500 at the end of 2019 when I harvest and sell my crops.

Looking To The Future

Long term, my aim is to start my own vocational school to help young ladies in the local community learn hairdressing and tailoring.

I’m delighted that my hairdressing business is growing fast and my workplace has become a centre of hope. Women come to my salon to have beautiful hair, but they leave with their hearts healed because of the wonderful discipleship and conflict resolution skills I share with them.