From ‘hopeless widow to a household now full of joy: the story of Hellen Epuruge
January.30.2018 / Uganda
Nyarakoti Farmer Field School 1 is situated in Asinge C, Nyarakoti parish, in Usukuru sub county of Tororo District. It consists of 30 members, 18 of whom are women. Its enterprises include Rice production in 6 acres, Ground nuts in 4 acres, and 8 acres of Maize. Formed in 2012 and fully registered, it initially received Ugandan Shilling (USh.) 10,000,000 from SG-2000 Uganda revolving fund under Farmer Based Organizations (FBOs) project and invested it in farming as a business being able to pay it back in one year. The profit has been reinvested in the enterprises they are having now.
Hellen Epurege is the group secretary. She is a widow who said she had lost hope after the death of her husband when he left her with six orphans. After attending BAIDA (Bugiri Agri-business and Institutional Development Association) - the Nyarakoti group being one of those selected from the district to benefit under the aBi Trust Project in Bugiri district - her life changed, as told in her story. The group members received training in production, postharvest handling, to marketing. And mainly, the group got the idea and the focus on: ‘farming as a business’.
She said on quote: “Before I came to the Bugiri training, my husband died in 2013 on a road accident. He left me with six orphans. The time when he died, he was the one providing for the fees and taking care of the family. So when he died, I lost hope, I was miserable. Even people started counting the days for me when I might leave this home. Some say ‘we give Helen a month if she can make it’, because the man could provide everything and I was just there as a housewife. In 2014, in that group, our trader called us for a training in BAIDA, Bugiri. In that training where SG-2000 Uganda staff Mr. James Murangira was training, as if it was a dream to me. I could not even get what he was meaning, but with what was his words he used like: ‘There is no secret in success, but preparation, learning, and hard work. So I got those wise words, and then I came back and I put that into practice. I and my fellow members of the group started practicing what we learning in that group. That changed my lifestyle as I took the words, and taking farming as a business. Because of the knowledge and of starting to use the new methods of farming we were told, post-harvest handling. From that time, my two children had just joined S1 (secondary school) in Iganga town. Some people could say that was the end of their education; but as we are talking, the two have started their O level (post-secondary school) last year and they are in teachers training as they want to be teachers. My last born who was in P1 when her father died is now in P5, and my second last is in Manjasi high school, a very good school in Tororo.”
Hellen went on to say: “I did not remarry or became a concubine. I just used the skills and trainings which I received from Sasakawa. Since then, my life has changed. Food security is not a problem that my family are feeding well. My children always report on first day of school. People even come and consult me now saying: ‘Hellen, what methods are you using, what knowledges?’ And I share that knowledge with them saying ‘my fellow widows, don`t lose hope, but be there work hard, and trust in the Lord.’ And indeed as we are talking, I am a testimony, my home is a testimony. And those people who started giving me days, they said ‘eh, she has managed it, she made it!’ Some ask me too: ‘do you have a husband outside?
She finished by adding: “Now I am called to attend seminars, I have even travelled to do exchange visits in Nairobi, Kenya. I came back and put that in practice. Oh most of all when I see my children, I cannot believe things; they look nice you cannot believe that they are orphans compared to other people. What to say really when I see that my household has completely changed? There was no hope before for all these to happen. That all is because of farming, that all is because of Sasakawa whom I cannot thank enough!”