During the devastating decades of war in northern Uganda, most of the civilian population (1.7 million people) were herded into squalid camps. They were prevented from reaching their farms, and depended on handouts from the World Food Program. This caused frustration and loss of personal dignity and status. Not surprisingly, alcoholism became a problem, with catastrophic results.
Agnes, who had four children to feed, made money by brewing alcohol – a short-term solution for her, but a long-term problem for her community. Then Agnes joined one of the training projects run by PCCO, our local partner in Patongo in northern Uganda. She learned about commercial crop farming techniques, rented some land and borrowed the PCCO oxen and plough/plow.
Agnes planted soya beans, and her harvest jumped from 1.5 kilograms each season to 10 kilograms. The beans from one season earned her $37 or £30; and she kept seeds to replant next season, avoiding the need to buy more seeds. Now she has doubled the acres she rents, putting into practice the skills PCCO taught her. With the profits, she has bought much-needed clothes for her family, and taken out a loan to pay her children’s school fees. She is also expanding her fledgling poultry-rearing project.
To someone living in the comparatively wealthy world, Agnes’s progress may not seem like a giant leap forward. Yet, we should be in awe of the millions of women like Agnes. On International Women’s Day, their determination means more than a thousand politicians’ speeches about female empowerment. We also salute our Ugandan partner, PCCO, for their commitment to transform the lives of families that have endured so much with such stoic grace. Thank you for your support for Network for Africa’s work through PCCO. To continue helping us, please click the arrow on the right of the screen.