Jolly Tumwebaze, 18, lives in Nombe village, Karugutu Sub-county in Ntoroko District. She dropped out of Primary Five at Harugongo Primary School in Kabarole District in 2011 due to lack of school fees. Born in a peasant family, she remained at home where her main preoccupation was doing domestic chores.
She had lost all hope of doing something else for a better future until some NGOs threw at her an olive branch through trainings.
“I was trained in March in bakery, I prepare chapatti and cakes. Every day, I earn Shs10,000, which I save and buy a goat every month” says Tumwebaze.
“On a good day, I earn Shs25,000. I no longer bother my husband to buy everything at home, I also contribute to the family budget”
Another youth, Salimu Mutalinga, 18, also from Nombe village in Karugutu, has five bee- hives and harvests 15kg of honey from each hive every season. Each kilogramme is sold between Shs15,000 and Shs20,000 locally.
“Through Ride Africa, I learnt how to make bee hives and before this programme (Youth in Action). I was just digging” Mutalinga says. Each modern bee hive is at Shs70,000.
Mutalinga has acquired the skills and now trains other youths in bee keeping.
“I also train others in apiary for a fee, my students pay me Shs20,000 per month to teach them, I also harvest honey for others at a fee of Shs5,000 per hive, I bought the costumes”.
Tumwebaze and Mutalinga are among hundreds of youths in Ntoroko, Kasese and Bundibugyo districts who dropped out of school until NGOs like Ride Africa, Fura, ANNPCAN and BAWILHA started work in the Rwenzori region four years ago.
Many youths in the area have acquired skills for various jobs including repairing motor boat engines, bakery, soap making, apiary, among others.
Up to 1,080 youths from Kasese, Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts in August were passed out in Bundibugyo after acquiring various skills for self employment.
The youths first trained for five months conducted by Ride Africa in Ntoroko District, FURA and ANNPCAN in Kasese and BAWILHA in Bundibugyo with funding from Master Card foundation and Danida through Save the Children International.
This month, 1,237 youths from the region completed courses in saloon management, building and construction, bee keeping, metal fabrication, carpentry and joining, electrical installation, and tailoring, catering, soap making among others.
Youth from Rwebisengo and Kanara sub counties in Ntoroko District have also acquired skills in finance management, which have helped them to increase their savings.
Groups have been formed and registered at sub county and district levels. Among the members, there are savings and credit facilities (loans) which has empowered them economically.
Nefigi Tumwine says, “In the next 10 years, I will be counted among the rich people of Kanara Sub-county because I got a firm foundation through financial literacy and leadership trainings.”
Tumwine, 24, lives at Katanga A village, Kanara sub county; he is the chairperson of Kanara Youth Network.
He is among the lucky youths who benefited from Ride Africa with support from Save the Children under youth empowerment support project.
He had lived a hard life before of earning a living through fishing activities at Lake Albert after having dropped out of school at the age of 18 in Senior Three.
Having acquired financial skills, he saved Shs200,000 and started a palm oil business.
From this he accumulated Shs300,000 and started a fuel-selling point in July 2014.
“By the end of March, I had accumulated Shs 500, 000 as capital which enabled me to start another fuel selling point at Butungama, a neighbouring sub county” he says.
Selling fuel by the road side is a brisk business in the remote areas of Bundibugyo and Ntoroko districts as fuel pump stations are only on the main road at Karugutu trading centre in Ntoroko and in Bundibugyo Town.
Many local businessmen in Fort Portal Town load fuel jerrycans on taxis to Ntoroko and Bundibugyo.
Tumwine adds, “With this business, I have been able to employ someone whom I pay Shs200,000 every fortnight and he is in charge of the Katanga business.
“I have not only provided employment to fellow youth but I am able to support my young brother who is in Senior Four at King Jesus Secondary School at Mubuku in Kasese District.
“Every term I pay Shs270,000 and cater for his up keep”.
Tumwine is optimistic that his brother will study up to university because his business is growing. He is planning to start a goat rearing project to diversify his income.
Children in schools too in Ntoroko have been empowered to participate in decision making and now demand for their rights and hold duty bearers accountable in their respective sub counties.
“This is achieved through involving children in child rights clubs and holding of children’s parliament” says Margaret Kabasinguzi, the programmes officer for Ride Africa in Ntoroko.
In Kanara Sub county, Ntoroko District the children’s councillor presented a number of issues to the area LC III council and technocrats demanding for resource allocation to monitor and follow up cases of child marriage and abuse, drug abuse, child labour especially in the fishing villages and high school dropouts.
“This prompted the sub county leadership to allocate Shs1.5 million in the sub county’s budget for this year to monitor children’s issues and programmes,” Kabasinguzi adds.
Ntoroko Woman MP Jennifer Mujungu says the projects have transformed the youths in the countryside.
“The skills the youths have acquired have helped them transform their lives through income generating projects by managing their finances while many have made savings in Saccos,” Mujungu says.
He adds, “The other skills have helped them to create jobs for themselves.so they can earn a living, I commend the NGOs for the job well done”.