In the week leading up to her interview for Kira Farm Development Centre Agaali Nailuba, then 14 years old, had been sleeping rough in bushes and in shrub land.
Agaali had a home, but she was too afraid to sleep there because her father had invited men to rape her to pay off his debts.
‘My father sold off parts of our land to buy alcohol and pay prostitutes, explains Agaali. ‘The small amount we had left was being used to pay compensation to people’s wives and daughters that he had been caught sleeping with.’
The family live a hand to mouth existence, growing crops on their land to survive - without enough land to farm they would all go hungry.
‘Other times, when my father didn’t have any money to pay for his drinks, he would promise the sellers my body as payment for what he’d drunk,’ adds Agaali.
‘As a result I barely slept at night and on many occasions men would come for me because they had an agreement with my father. That’s why I slept out in scrub land.
‘Because my father raped girls and had relationships with married women, the men in the village want to rape me to make me pay for what he’d done. They thought they had the right to insult me in the worst way possible.’
Deliberately unwashed and dirty
‘The number of men wanting to rape me kept increasing, so to protect myself I stopped washing. I never brushed my teeth or took a bath - even when I had my period. I thought if they found me dirty and disgusting I might be safe from their attacks.
‘Villagers wouldn’t let me fetch water from the stream because I was so dirty, so I would spend all day in the garden tending my crops and wait till it was dark before I walked to the stream. I was always scared, but without water we couldn’t drink or cook.
‘When Joshua (Youth Empowerment Co-ordinator at Kira Farm) came to my village to recruit new trainees I had spent nearly a week sleeping rough because my father was desperate to marry me off to settle a drink debt (via a dowry) he had of £10.00.’
A new life at Kira Farm
‘It took me a while to settle into life at Kira Farm. For the first two weeks I kept having nightmares about men wanting to rape me and would wake up screaming. I was worried I was going to scare my room mates.
‘After Uncle Joshua shared his life story with us, and all the challenges he had faced, I decided to tell my room mates about my fears. We cried together and then they shared things about their personal lives too. After that I began to sleep without fear.
‘I enjoyed the training and mentoring programme, but my breakthrough came during the Shine Girl programme (a programme designed to restore girls’ self-esteem). For the first time I stopped thinking about myself as the daughter of a rapist and a drunkard, but as the daughter of a King – the Almighty God.’
‘We went home for a short break after the first semester and that’s when I decided to speak to my Reverend and explain to him what was going on in my family. I also told him about the fears I had for the safety of my siblings.
‘The Reverend was amazed that all this was going on without his knowledge and the next Sunday at church he asked other people if they knew about my situation – a number confirmed it was true.
‘The Reverend apologised to me, saying that the church had failed me and my family and that from now on church members would visit my family home every week and also visit other homes in the village.
‘The church decided to talk to my father, encouraging him to change, and they reported him to the authorities so they could give him a warning about his behaviour. They also promised they would support me when I completed my year at Kira Farm.’
‘Life at home has totally changed. I no longer live in fear, I love myself and even people who used to insult me now respect me for the woman I have become.
‘I am part of the church group who visit homes and talk to girls who are being abused. I am also sharing what I learnt at Kira with my church youth group and I am passing on the skills I now have in building tippy taps (taps designed for a village setting) and energy saving stoves.
‘I have been able to put my hairdressing and tailoring skills into practise on the church premises and I am making at least £1.50 a day. I am so happy I have already been able to save £35 in the church savings group (a bank wouldn’t be accessible to Agaali).
‘Thanks to the training we received in restorative justice I have had the courage to talk to my dad and to stand up to him whenever I feel he is doing something wrong.
‘We have been experiencing a drought in my area, but because of my new skills I have still been able to feed my siblings. Since I’ve been home there hasn’t been a single day when they have gone to bed hungry.
‘In the future I plan to open a vocational training centre, along with other Kira graduates in my village, so that we can fully pass on all everything we learnt at Kira.’
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)