Immaculate of Kasebuturanyi
Straight to business...
Immaculate recalls her childhood fondly. There was no struggle. Her parents provided all that she needed, and she never spent a night without food.
When I first met Immaculate in 2016 I noticed that she appeared relatively better off among the self-help group women. Her wrap looked just that little bit newer, her house was solid with three rooms and forming a small compound with her mother-in-law’s house. She kept two cows in the compound and and with her husband cultivated a rented plot of land behind their house. The cows are on loan to Immaculate and her husband. Immaculate cuts grass for their feed and is allowed to use the manure. Manure is like gold: an essential ingredient to farming, it can double crop yields on a field.
However, with four children, Immaculate struggled provide what she took for granted as a child: a meal every night. Casual labouring work was hard to come find because she had a young baby and people were reluctant employ her. This meant they family had less money, less food, and Immaculate was finding breast feeding her baby difficult.
Immaculate was excited when she heard self-help groups were coming to her village Kasebuturanyi. She had friends who had had success with self-help groups, and she was excited to be able to join herself. Her biggest hope on joining was to borrow money from her group. Immaculate already had ideas on what she wanted to do with it: buy materials to brew sorghum beer; buy livestock for more manure; buy vegetables for sale at the local markets; and importantly, buy soap for herself and her family.
2017, a year later, and Immaculate has been busy using loans from her group to start small business activities. Her first loan was an exciting occasion, and Immaculate celebrated in the way she had hoped: “I bought soap to wash and clean myself up!”
Not all her projects have gone smoothly. eagles took the rabbits she bought with an early loan, but a pig has proved more durable and is providing valuable manure. Later it will be sold for a considerable profit. Immaculate is also buying vegetables and selling them in the local market and she now has health insurance for her family, something that she could not pay for in 2016.
Immaculate says that being in her self-help group has changed the way she sees herself. “I am confident about myself and am able to go out and spend time with others. We have become one person. We are able to trust each other and combine our efforts.”
Her husband Emmanuel agrees with her and is happy that she has joined a self-help group, saying “she has changed a lot. The group has made her do things, she has got confidence. I hope she will be able to take me to another level.”
Emmanuel has been so impressed with what he has seen from the women that he and other men in the village have organised their own savings and loan group.