I Saved My Way Back to School
By Immaculate Nalubyayi, Advocacy and Communications Officer
Seventeen-year-old Jeneth is the third of six children, being raised by an elderly widowed mother in Nwoya district. After the death of her father in 2005, her mother was sent away from the home by in-laws, so Jeneth’s family took refuge in her grandparents’ home. Jeneth’s mother resorted to growing and selling rice, groundnuts and maize to feed and educate her children. Unfortunately, in 2015 she could no longer afford Jeneth’s school fees so the teenager had to join her in the market to sell the produce. After a year of being out of school, one market day brought good news!
“I heard about Youth Empowerment Bulgari Program’s (YEBP) saving scheme while at the market. The community based-trainer who told us about it mentioned that it targeted young vulnerable people. I talked to mother about it. She encouraged me to join and save the little that we had,” says Jeneth. She immediately registered to attend the trainings of the new saving scheme.
The Youth Empowerment Bulgari Program tasks the young people who join to form youth groups, which are strengthened and resourced to undertake viable income-generating activities (agribusiness and off-farm enterprises). In the savings group, Jeneth and her friends had to make a weekly saving of UGX5,000, and by May 2017, she had saved UGX255,000.
“Sometimes it wasn’t possible to get that 5,000 shillings (UGX5,000). I would weed people’s gardens alongside preparing their gardens for planting,” explains Jeneth.
On May 23rd this year, an action audit was done and Jeneth was the best in her group. Her savings had garnered dividends worth UGX102,000. Jeneth then borrowed UGX50,000 to top up her younger sister’s school fees. Later, she borrowed UGX150,000, which she used to plant two acres of groundnuts. “The season was very good. I made UGX800,000 from the sale of the 10 bags of groundnuts that I harvested. I paid back the UGX150,000 that I had borrowed and helped mother pay school fees for my three younger sisters. I was so proud of myself!” says Jeneth.
From the sale of her groundnuts and other savings, Jeneth is ready to go back to school, and isn’t she excited! She will join the boarding section to enable her concentrate on her studies.
“I have already paid the UGX340,000 required for the term. I am now increasing my weekly savings to UGX10,000 so that I can afford the fees for the following term. Mother will take on my extra work,” says Jeneth.
Jeneth’s mother’s dream is also being fulfilled.
“My dream to have educated children will slowly come to pass,” she says, smiling.