Duculina is a 60-year-old widow with four children. Although her husband had a good job working in local government, he died suddenly, leaving his family without any savings. As a result, her children had to stop going to school, and her daughters were married off while young.
Life was tough for Duculina, and she supported her family with subsistence farming and doing odd jobs. But she was also living in a war zone, where her daily existence was disrupted by having to run away into the bush at a moment’s notice to escape being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Sometimes she and her children would have to stay in the bush for days, going without food, afraid to go to sleep in case they were captured or killed.
When she returned home, she found that her home with its tiny kitchen garden had been destroyed by the LRA. She also discovered that her friends had been attacked, killed, raped or taken away to be used as slaves by the LRA. In common with most local people, she was confused and traumatised by her experiences. But she was also mourning her husband, and felt vulnerable, afraid and alone in the world. Even when the war ended, Duculina struggled both economically and emotionally.
Then she heard about Network for Africa’s projects, and she joined our Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA). She was given training in business planning and management, and was given support in learning how to cope with her problems through counselling. She says she found a community of people who cared about her and made her feel less lonely.
At this point she had an idea for a restaurant serving people who came into her town each Tuesday for market day. She asked the VSLA for a loan of 80,000 Ugandan shillings (£21 or $31) and she bought a pig and some ingredients. Soon she was ready to start The Pork Joint, and on her first day in business she made a profit of 200,000 Ugandan shillings.
Duculina reinvested her earnings, and developed her premises. Now, every market day, she makes up to 250,000 Ugandan shillings (£65 or $97), an impressive sum by local standards. She has three members of staff, and she is using part of her profit to educate her grandchildren, giving them the chances her own children never had.
“I had this idea for a restaurant,” she explains, “but I didn’t know how to run the Pork Joint at first. But after I was given training and advice, I learned how to manage my business. I had never had any experience of doing this kind of thing before, but now I’m planning to open another branch of the Pork Joint.”