She was barely 40 years old when her husband died under mysterious circumstances, leaving her with the burden of bringing up the children single handedly, She has been a widow for the last 36 years. And it has not been a bed of roses.
“Living as a widow is the hardest experience a woman can ever go through. You are left alone with almost no one to turn to when in need,” she says.
A mother of five, Dinah Obaado, went to school up to P6 and by 19 years old, she was already a housewife. But farming has helped her overcome the various hurdles a rural widow would be faced with and now is one of the more successful farmers in Teso.
A resident of Kadok village, Kobwin Sub County, Ngora District, Obaado stands out from many rural women as a hardworking entrepreneur, a trait that has helped her against all odds.
“It took me time to come to terms with the loss of my husband. His body was later found, we buried him and the family had to cope with the hard truth that the bread winner was no longer with us,” she recalls.
She said she could not stand the cultural humiliations many rural women go through as widows, and from the 10-acre piece of land that her husband left with the family, she has been able to turn all the adversities into fortune.
She planted 300 orange and 100 mango trees, an estimated 200 eucalyptus trees for timber and has about 300 chicken and turkeys as well as several beehives. For a rural widow in Teso, this was no mean feat. Obaado, who is also a grandmother of six, provides support to 10 orphans from her village.
Officials of National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) in the area have been using her to mobilise other women into groups, most of whom are now identified as model farmers.
Peter Charles Odeke, NAADS coordinator for Kobwin Sub County, said that in barely a decade, Obaado has been able to move from the level of a smallholder grower to a commercial farmer earning an estimated Shs1.2m a month from the farm.
She harvests an estimated 150 kilogrammes of honey plus about 200 bags of oranges for the two seasons and similar amount of mangoes. These yields earn her more than Shs10m a year.
“Before NAADS was introduced, Ms Obaado was keen on how she can improve her farming. By the time government rolled out the programme, she was already trying out many farming ideas by herself,” Odeke adds.
Janet Ikiror, who belongs to the same farmers’ group as Obaado, says she has been an inspiration to many widows in their village, who previously had a belief that they could only survive as inherited wives to relatives of their deceased husbands. “She is a good role model to us. I am now confident even a widow can live without having to be inherited,” Ikiror says.