Frightened to Farm

Farming was dangerous because the Ugandan army had dumped their explosives in the ground. Wherever we would try to farm we would dig up the remains of people who had died in the camp

“Farming was dangerous because the Ugandan army had dumped their explosives in the ground. Wherever we would try to farm we would dig up the remains of people who had died in the camp”

Surviving birth:

I grew up during the 25-year civil war with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The Ugandan government were unable to stop the LRA so the people of northern Uganda had to leave their villages and live in government-run camps for internally displaced persons (IDP’s). These camps were created for our safety, but they were rife with disease, violence and hardship. I spent 16 years in one of these IDP camps.

I count myself blessed for even surviving birth, let alone my childhood. I am a twin, but my sister died just a few hours after our mother gave birth to us.

Surviving death: There was no antenatal care at the camp and very little healthcare. Medicines were in short supply and very difficult to get hold of. There was never enough food, so my mother was already weak before she went into labour. When she eventually gave birth to us in such atrocious conditions, we weighed just a few pounds each. My mum lost a lot of blood during the birth; it’s a miracle that she is still alive.

Amigos worldwide

I was very weak and sick growing up because of the terrible conditions in the camp. Whenever it rained, the makeshift shelter we lived in would be swamped. None of us had enough clothes to keep us warm. Disease, rape, stealing of food and death was a daily occurrence. My father died in the camp. He kept complaining of chest pains, but whenever we took him to the camp doctors the queues of people were endless. We tried five times, from early in the morning until late at night, but one morning when we awoke, we found him dead.

Surviving life

When the war was over and everyone returned to their villages, my family stayed in the camp because our uncles refused to let us go back to our father’s land. Life became even more unbearable because the organisations that had been helping with food and medicines stopped. We had to start growing our own food on the camp land. Farming was dangerous because the Ugandan army had dumped their explosives in the ground, killing people who tried to cultivate the land. I hated everything to do with digging because wherever we tried to farm, we would dig up the remains of people who had died in the camp.

Things became so bad at the camp that my mum finally plucked up enough courage to return to our father’s land and squat on it. Despite the daily threats from our uncles, my mum stood firm as she knew it’s what Dad would have wanted.

I only managed to get to senior 3 at school. My grades were pretty poor, and it was almost impossible to find money for school fees, so I dropped out. When the opportunity of going to Kira Farm Development Centre came, it was like Christmas to me!

Life in abundance

I had the greatest time ever at Kira Farm. I went from nearly starving to death to having three big meals every day. I had never felt respected the way I did at Kira Farm, and the respect I received made me respect myself and others. For once in my life,
I started to feel like I was important. I learnt a lot from the discipleship training and by the time I left Kira, I had a wonderful relationship with God. The vocational skills I was taught took away the fear I had about my future. I was confident that through these new skills, I was not only going to change my life but also my family’s life and maybe even some lives in my community.

A new beginning: Since returning home from Kira, life has not only dramatically changed for myself, but also my family. Thanks to the tippy tap knowledge I gained at Kira, we can all now wash our hands hygienically after using the latrine, resulting in much less sickness. We have also improved our method of cooking, from using a three stone fire to an energy-saving mud stove, reducing our use of firewood.

I have taught my family conservation farming, so we are now enjoying some great harvests and eating very well. When I arrived home I immediately started tailoring under a tree in our compound. Customers started to come to me, and I made them some great clothing for Christmas

After Christmas, one of my Kira graduate friends, Gloria, approached me to join forces with her to develop a much bigger business. We now have our own premises and together we are running a very successful tailoring business. I can now afford to buy household essentials like sugar, tea and soap whilst still saving £55 a month. We have also started to train some local young people in our business as well as sharing our faith with our customers. Thank you so much to Amigos, for giving me this amazing opportunity to be born again!