NEVER GIVE UP: I never gave up on myself and i never felt sorry for myself. My target was to earn at least 500, 000 shillings in two months, but I earned 1 million Uganda shillings in the first month.
Back in the day, I was skinny and looked haggard, had just lost both my parents. They were claimed by a fatal accident along the Kampala-Jinja highway. Being a girl, and the only child of the deceased couple, I was left with limited options. Property and investments that were jointly owned by my parents were taken over by clan members, who divided it amongst themselves. My grandmother was my only hope of survival. At the age of twelve, my maternal grandmother took full responsibility over me. We shared a three-roomed old bungalow with other children – Her grandchildren. I struggled, we did not have enough food, and we had nothing. I remember my grandmother leaving every morning, she had to look for means of survival. Sometimes, we ate something only when she came back from the garden. So I found it useless staying at home. I started accompanying her every morning and she loved it, she encouraged me. We went and harvested vegetables from her garden every morning and took them to the side market. Luckily, the vegetables had a ready market but all we sold was small, just enough to provide finances to keep the family going for a few days. Remember I had to continue with school.
Indeed I was different from the other children, in the evening, I gathered a few friends on the village, and we went around collecting used saucepans and kettles – scrap, which we sold to the smelters. I earned something extra that helped me at school. Primary education was free, but the school was seven kilometers away from home. Walking to school on an empty stomach was one of the worst experiences in my life. This got me thinking of other options, and I kept looking for other means of survival. My adventure got me to a local bar, where I was hired as a waitress. Grandma did not object, I was earning some money and helping to feed the family. Then it became so hard to coordinate work and school, I ended up dropping out of school at a tender age and no one was bothered. Regrettably, I got married as a teenager at sixteen and by nineteen I had my second child. Then the domestic violence started. I remember vividly, I was always on the run. My husband got a second wife, and he always had other girlfriends all over the village. He started coming home during the day having spent the night somewhere else. One particular time I remember, he came home early morning, drunk and broke the bedroom door. He came in with such rage that I was so scared, I ran out of the bedroom with my little girl and as I turned towards the corridor, a flat iron came flying and went past my head. He wanted to hit me, but I survived the assault. Being a small girl, I felt this was too much for me, I was seeing more than I had to. I always wanted love and happiness, something that I never enjoyed when I was tender. I had gotten into marriage thinking that I was going to be loved, but it was the opposite. I struggled, we did not have food. Remember I had given up my waitress job to concentrate on being a mother and a wife, but he always gambled and cheated. There was always something in me that said that I could do better, I wanted to be better, a good mother to my children, a successful person in life and I had to device means of reaching my destiny.
So I went to a convent, asked for any job there was, I was so desperate. The nun I talked to was really so nice, all she said was, “come tomorrow, 6 am do not be late.” By 5:50 am the following day, I was at the convent, having taken my children to grandma the previous evening. The nuns gave me a job and that very day I cooked my first meal for them. I was always that girl who loved giving my all in all that I did and loved making an extra income for myself. I no longer wanted to rely on my abusive husband for anything. When I started working, he started taking my money, he would take everything that came into our house, gambled it and bought alcohol. Until it came to a time when he ignored us and concentrated on his other wife. Working at the convent, I learned all that I could and I had to come up with a plan. Every time I thought about my children I stayed awake trying to figure out how I was going to feed them. I knew I had to do something and forget about the man. I explained my situation to the nuns and they allowed me to stay with my children in one room at the convent. I did not want to pile a lot of burden on my grandmother. I had mastered the skill of baking all kinds of snacks. The nuns went to the extent of establishing a canteen at the parish, which did so well. Nevertheless, I believed I could be more successful, I wanted to become more independent with more income.
Boasting of a good relationship with the nuns and the ability to save and manage my money, I saved and vowed never to go back to my past. As the convent expanded, more workers were hired and I felt like it was time for me to take another step in life. My desire was to start my own business, so I left the convent, they wished me well and gave me some money to help me move on with my life. I rented a room in the trading center, at the back, I constructed a baking oven out of clay and bricks. I started baking bread, cakes, doughnuts and all kinds of snacks, little did I know I was creating a gold mine. The marriage was no more, business was my all. I never gave up on myself and I never felt sorry for myself. The business did well, my target was to earn at least 500, 000 shillings in two months, but I earned 1 million Uganda shillings in the first month – I was overwhelmed. I did not look back. I went back to vocational school and acquired skills in managing businesses and my business grew. Within four years, I had my own house built on my own land and a fully established mini bakery that was supplying snacks allover. My children were going to good schools and grandma was staying with me, we were a happy family. I was never fazed, I always looked for solutions and here I am, I never gave up. Any of you facing a similar or related situation should never lose hope, just focus on the positives out of the circumstances and learn from your mistakes. Something good will always come out of the positivity and perseverance.