Before l got a scholarship from RUFORUM, life was a constant struggle for me and my family. My parents were engaged in agriculture, but it did not bring in enough income to support the household. Out of a family of 11 siblings, I was the first to go to university. On the other hand, while my brothers attended a government aided school, my sister could not pursue her higher education further after completing Advanced levels because there were no finances.
When I benefited from the MasterCard Foundation/RUFORUM scholarship, l started supporting my father to pay school fees for four 4 of my siblings. The other three are in lower primary, under the government free education programme, which means that all I have to do is provide them with scholastic materials and registration fee. That’s what I did before schools were closed because of COVID-19.
My goal is to see to it that my siblings get the kind of education I have been able to get. And that’s why I decided to open a savings account with an insurance company for a policy that offers education related covers. From my scholarship stipend, I’ve been able to save Shs300,000 every month into the education insurance fund. Over a five-year period, I hope to have saved about Shs18million. The long-term closure of schools also propelled me to think of alternative income generating activities that I could engage in while I spent time at home.
Starting a piggery
First, I started with piggery. With the knowledge, I had acquired at the university through my engagements with the community, I was able to launch the piggery enterprise. We already had a mature pig in the homestead, so I decided to sell it and use the money to buy more piglets and food for the animals. In the course of running the project, l trained my siblings and the youth in the community on how to take care of the animals, including good feeding practices, deworming and spraying against diseases.
The plan now is to expand the project by stocking more piglets, while at the same time engaging community members on how to venture into large scale piggery. Most of the community members rare one or two pigs at any given time because majority haven’t taken on the enterprise as a commercial venture.
During the lockdown, I also decided to start growing vegetables such as egg plants, onions, tomatoes, green pepper and carrots. Because access to markets was a big challenge at the time, we decided to consume the vegetables we had planted at home. The plan was also to sell the extra vegetables within the community. However, this was not successful because most people didn’t have the purchasing power. As an agricultural student, I also asked my brothers to design a solar drier that we could use to preserve the bulk of the vegetables.
A housing project
Having grown up sleeping in a grass thatched house, my desire has always been to live in a permanent- iron roofed structure. That dream is starting to take shape. Since I haven’t been contributing towards tuition for my siblings who have been at home since March because of Covid19, I have been spending my stipend on buying construction materials, including bricks and cement. Although the project hasn’t taken off, I plan to construct a three-bedroom house for my family.
I also have plans for the future. I hope to start a business venture that will specialise in selling chicken and chips. I would also like to start raring chicken on a large scale.
The MasterCard Foundation/RUFORUM support has come a long way in changing our lives, even more so during the pandemic.
By immaculate Adongo