Poverty-stricken and treated like slaves, Esther Mirembe and her family struggled to survive before she acquired skills, and confidence, at Kira Farm Development Centre
Esther grew up in extreme poverty with her parents and nine siblings. The family didn’t have enough clothes or bedding and could only afford one meal a day. She shared a room with her all her siblings and spent her days collecting firewood.
Unable to make ends meet, her father would go around the village taking out loans to help the family with medicine or school fees. On many occasions he failed to pay back the loans and so Esther and her siblings had to work long hours in neighbours’ homes or on their farms, as settlement for what their father had failed to pay back.
Esther and her family became the talk of the village owing to their poverty and the fact they were effectively slaves to all their neighbours. Two of Esther’s sisters chose to escape the dire situation through marriage and two of her brothers took up building work, however their lack of skills meant they could not earn good money. ‘On many occasions I wished I could find a man to marry so that I could leave the suffering in my family,’ says Esther. ‘But I am so thankful to God that when I was at my breaking point, I got the opportunity to come to Kira Farm Development Centre.’
Esther is extremely grateful for her time at Kira. ‘I came into the gates of Kira tired with life, I had a low self-esteem and felt worthless,’ she remembers. ‘By the end of my training I had not only acquired skills, but I had also changed from the inside out.’ The environment at Kira allowed Esther to rest and to have fun – things she had not done before, while the mentoring, love and support built up her self-esteem. ‘For the first time I realised I didn’t need to get married to live a good life,’ she smiles. ‘Instead, with the skills I gained, I was in a position to provide myself with everything I need.’
Farming skills in practice
Having learned a great deal about farming while on Kira, Esther was shocked when she returned home to realise that her family had ruined their land by making mud bricks from the fertile top soil. To make things worse, they had planted the same crops year after year, which had led to poor harvests and lack of food. Esther has since educated her family in proper farming methods and they’ve agreed they need to stop making mud bricks. ‘We have been applying lots of organic manure in our garden and I am sure will have a good harvest,’ smiles Esther.
During her time at Kira Farm Esther learned how to manage money and has been helping her parents manage the little amount that they have in order to prevent any further debts. Using her newly-acquired tailoring skills she has made enough money to buy a mattress so she no longer needs to share one mattress with her two sisters. Making £3 a day, she is able to provide her family with essentials such as soap, sugar and tea and has managed to save £44, and is now looking forward to expanding her business.
Esther is training her mother in tailoring and hopes one day to buy her a sewing machine. She is also an active member of her local church. ‘Thanks to my new-found confidence I have got involved in church youth activities,’ she says. ‘I am happy that I have been able to share what I learnt about mentoring and conflict resolution. I am a girl who has escaped from slavery, into freedom!’
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)