When Esther’s father died the family were thrown out of their home by Esther’s uncle and forced to live in an abandoned old hut. They stayed there for seven years, a home without a door or a window, until the uncle died and they were able to move in with Esther’s grandmother.
During this time Esther’s mother resorted to making and selling local brew and, in despair, often drank it herself. Frequently Esther’s mum would drink so much that she would pass out and her customers would leave without paying.
Esther wanted to go to school and knew it wouldn’t be possible without the money to pay the fees, so was forced to help her mother sell the alcohol. Despite her young age (11 years), drunken customers would sexually harass her and after two years she couldn’t bear it anymore. ‘I was tired of old men touching me or pulling me around just so I could earn school fees, so I stopped helping my mother,’ she explains.
Stuck and miserable
Unable to study, Esther became a housemaid earning £6 a month - money she would send home for her mother’s upkeep. ‘After four years as I housemaid I began to feel stuck and miserable because I wasn’t earning much,’ she explains. ‘I sent home nearly all of my money, but it was never enough to help my mother.’ Esther wanted a better job but her lack of education meant this was not possible. ‘I thank God that during that low time I heard of Amigos and eventually made it to Kira Farm,’ she says.
Self-worth, hope and rest
‘At Kira Farm I had time to rest, I re-gained my self-worth and I discovered hope,’ says Esther. ‘I managed to rest from the difficulties I had endured most of my life, sleep in a comfortable bed and eat food without first working to get it. It was an amazing experience.’ The mentoring, love, and support helped Esther gain a sense of self-worth. For many years she had been haunted by memories of drunk men touching her when she was just a child. It made her feel dirty and worthless – at Kira she was healed from this.
Esther returned home full of hope. ‘I didn’t have any money, but I had the best capital in the world – skills,’ she recalls. Esther started off doing a little hairdressing. ‘Thanks to the wonderful business training I received on Kira I started getting customers who wanted me to plait their hair and by the end of one month I had made about £22,’ she says. This was an enormous sum compared to what Esther had earned as a housemaid
Esther invested half this money in renting some farming land in order to do put into practise her new conservation farming skills. She made £166 from her last maize harvest and used the profits to enlarge her hairdressing business. Today she has a hairdressing salon in her village and has created employment for another young person. ‘I am happy that I am not only helping my mother live a better life, but that I have also been able to send my younger sister back to school,’ she smiles.
Many young people in Esther’s church are now interested in joining Kira Farm after witnessing all that Esther has achieved. Esther is passing on the skills she has learned and is happy to see a change in their mindsets. ‘Even if they don’t go to Kira I know their lives will improve because of the knowledge I have been able to pass on to them,’ she says.
Amigos Worldwide is a registered Charity/NGO both in the UK and Uganda.
Amigos Worldwide, Registered in England, Company Number 6122350, Registered Charity Number 1119450
Registered Office 7A Beech Grove, Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1PZ
(Amigos International and Amigos are working names of Amigos Worldwide)