This is a story told by Nagawa Brenda to Nalubega of UGANDA SPACE

My name is Nagawa Brenda, am 48 years of age. Am a widow and have six children. Am educated up to a level of secondary school ( high school) and am a small hold farmer in the rural area of Uganda. I started farming when I was about eight years old. I remember I was a small kind when my father bought me a small hoe to start cleaning the compound of our home. This is always done in our rural areas to train the children to do farming since it is the main source of income for education and basic needs of home here in Uganda. As a child, I did not like farming at all because it was tiresome and was on daily basis. Usually before I went to school early in the morning, I used to first dig and I missed this I could be punished by missing taking food or I could be told to fetch 5 jerricans of water. So there was no way I could dodge gardening at home every morning. As I grew up ( at about 13 years) I realized the importance of farming since my parents used to get my school fees, basic needs, clothing, drugs, salt and sugar from the garden produces. I remember I was in primary seven when they sent me home from school for school fees. When I reached home, my father was picking coffee from our garden and he told me to pick 6 baskets to be sold to the village store in exchange for money to paid to the school for me. I spent the whole day in the garden picking coffee to be sold. During the period of picking, our neighbor broke the sad news to my father that the price of coffee had dropped by 20%. This meant that I had to spend more days at home picking more baskets of coffee to raise the required money. It really took me 7 days to pick the necessary baskets and remember fellow students at the school had gone further with the lessons in the class. I had to miss the teaching since I was looking for school fees. My parents were small scale farmers, I remember my father’s coffee plantation was about 60ft by 100ft and this small plantation was the source of money for paying our school fees and to cater for our basic needs at home. My mother and we other children hard a garden that contained banana plantation of about 50ft by 60ft and another that had potatoes, cassava, beans plant of about 40ft by 50ft. Each and every child at home was given a plot of land in this garden to care about. The food we harvested was for both home consumption and sell to get the basic needs. At the age of 16 years, I was in secondary three, our coffee field was attacked by a virus which destroyed and dried all our coffee trees. This was the end of my career in education. My father hardly had any money to continue supporting us at school and at home. I had a dream of becoming a nurse but that was the end of it all. Now we were relying on our mother’s garden of which the money from the produce were not enough to support all our needs. At the age of 18 years, I was forced into marriage since I was idle in the village and my mother could no longer support all of us. The pressure from the community also did much into my getting married. I started a mother life at the age of 19 years and it was not easy since my husband was not good at working so I had to work more to support the family. I started ploughing a piece of land in the dry season, prepared it and waited for the rain to plant bean seeds. Life became hard when I had to care for my daughter and to go to the garden. We could go without lunch and only take tea minus sugar.

Now I was used to gardening and since it was the source of income for our basic needs and I decided to take it as my career, I had to like this job. I cleared a lot of bushes using my hand hoe to plant many cash and food crops. I started growing bananas and cassava for sale. I had to do this to support my children at home and at school. I did this for 20 years until when farming alone could not yield enough money. I had to think of some other business to supplement on my produce.

In 2000, I started a poultry project at my home with about 10 local chicken and the number grew to 25 by 2006. This project supplemented my income but the challenges were the small numbers, lack of chicken feeds, medicine and vaccination. I even lacked a large housing for them. In 2008, when my husband died, life became hard and my poultry project had to fail. My of my children stopped attending school due to lack of money. As a mother it hurts me to see my children suffering but I have nothing to do since I lack support. Today am in need of capital to start a poultry project on a relatively large scale. I want to start with 1000 exotic chicken breeds. I costed the whole project considering all the requirements and this needs me to have about $5,000. The project can last for six months. I also plan to start an agro- business in my village. With this I hope I can take back my four children who pay about $85 per term to school. My house also needs repair but if I get support I hope all will be well.


Hi Nalubega,

Thank you for sharing Nagawa's story. It is a story of inspiration and hope. Please update us on the outcome of her project.

Warm regards, Jade

Nalubega, Ashoka’s Changemakers, in partnership with the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, are accepting applications for the online competition "Champions of Quality Education in Africa". They are looking to innovative teachers, administrators, professional networks and education organizations in Africa to find promising practices that improve learning at the local, district, and national levels.

I think Uganda SPACE would be a great candidate for this competition. Entries due June 3rd. Best wishes, Janice

Dear Nalubega, I am in Kampala. I called you many times but the calls didn't go through. This is my number in Kampala 0771845259

Looking forward to meeting you. Araceli

Hello Areceli, Happy that you are already in kampala. But am wondering why the numbers refused to go through. Let me plan a call phone to you so that we can meet soon. Just wait for my call soon. Nalubega

I am writing a fundraising letter for the Solar Lighting Project for Uganda Space. Do you have any digital photos that you can send me. Any other stories of the women that I can share?

Hope all is well with you.

All my best, Genice

Genice Jacobs Profluence

your story touches very close to home. my kenyan husband had to stop going to school early on b/c his family could not pay school fees. to this day i can feel his sadness and anger when he talks about it. he was lucky and had the opportunity to come to the US. we now do everything we can to pay the school fees for the children in his village. we make sacrifices so they may have some hope of a decent future. this is truly a global problem. children should be able to go to school! i know there is not one easy solution, but we should all be working to make it happen. no one can argue that schooling is more important than eating, but it should not have to come down to that!!

did anything ever come of Janice's suggestion to look at Ashoka's online competition "Champions of Quality Education in Africa"? i am going to check Ashoka's website next and see what i can find. if practices that improve learning exist, more people need to know about them!

thank you for sharing this story. asante sana