At HCC we sponsor work in Uganda through Connected Church at Tearfund. In Alkalabai village in central Uganda the local church has been working with their community to help people lift themselves out of poverty. Using the Participatory Evaluation Process (PEP) Alkalabai PAG church has been showing people, using the Bible, that God has given, even the poorest in the community, the resources that will help lift them out of poverty. Across Uganda this process has helped many families recognise that they can escape the poverty they have felt trapped into and people’s eyes have been opened to new ways of farming or earning an income, giving whole communities new hope.
In Alkalabai, even after considering afresh what resources they had to lift themselves out of poverty, one group of individuals felt like there was nothing they had that would help them improve their lot in life. However, they then came to realise that although they had little to contribute on their own, as a group they might have a better chance of transforming their lives.
Now 16 women and 2 men make up the Alkalabai PAG group of both church and community members who are working together, using what they have learnt from PAG and the PEP process, to bring hope where there previously was none. Angela Atugu is the chair lady of the group and says,
“We couldn’t feed our families or send our children to school. After four of us had gone through the PEP process we were encouraged to consider what resources we could use to lift ourselves out of poverty. We are the poorest people in the community and had nothing to offer on our own but realised that if we worked as a group we could bring all our resources together to help ourselves. We shared our idea with our neighbours and set up the group together.
Our main aim as a group is to farm together. Each person contributes seed and then we work together to sow the seeds and harvest our crop. After our first harvest we sold the crop and had enough money to buy 5 pigs which we can now start breeding. We continue to cultivate peanuts which we can sell at market.
Every month each member of the group contributes 4000 Ugandan shillings. Two people receive that money each month to spend on essentials that they could otherwise afford. When we first formed the group we wrote everyone’s names on a piece of paper and selected them one by one. The order that people were selected in is the order we use to decide who receives the money each month.
I was able to use the money I received to buy school uniforms for my children so that I could send them to school. I was also able to buy a mattress so that we no longer had to sleep on the floor.”
Betty Acomo who also received money from the group said,
“My daughter was very sick and urinating blood, using the money I received from our savings group I was able to pay for transport to take her to the main hospital. If I hadn’t had the money I would not have been able to get any treatment for her.”
“As a group we have more power to get the government to give us what we need, once we showed them that by working together we could grow and harvest a good crop the local government gave us the seeds we needed” says Angela.
“We plan to continue farming together as we can harvest a bigger crop and get more money for it as a group. We want to be able to send our children to school. Currently we all live in mud huts with grass roofs. It takes a lot of time and effort to maintain our homes and we have to replace the roof regularly as it starts to leak. We hope to build ourselves brick houses. We also plan on getting a mill for grinding our corn and buying oxen to help us plough our land. Working together as a group we can share each other’s ideas and knowledge.”
“After PEP was introduced to us arguments between husbands and wives have reduced and there has been much less domestic violence. I have also experienced great joy as my husband has been saved after he saw the change the Bible studies had had on my own life.” shared Beatrice Adeke as she wept with joy.
“After PEP we identified that as a community we needed access to safe water as many of us suffered from water borne diseases so we sent a representative to the district government office to lobby them to install a borehole and water pump. We already had a shallow well and after our request the local government came to deepen it and build a pump using material we had been able to provide ourselves.
PEP has brought great change to our lives. We still struggle every day and don’t have enough land to grow enough crops to store in case there is a drought. Several of us also have HIV/AIDS and we also have to look after children whose parents have died due to various other illnesses. Despite our continuing struggles we now have hope for the future and know that we can work to help ourselves to escape from poverty.”