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UGA06 - Gen Obango Lira widows loan programme : Partnership Reports

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Report Date: October 18, 2018

Report from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator 


great catch upKey people: Anna Ocen, Penninah 

Recent Events

This loan programme continues to grow and there are now 55 ladies in the group although Anna says that there are some challenges. Currently somewhere between 5 and 8 of the ladies in the group are not receiving loans although most of them still attend the meetings and are considered part of the group. Reasons why they are not receiving loans or part of the programme vary. Some beneficiaries have reached a stage where they are doing so well that they no longer need a loan. One has cancer and cannot work. Others have been poor payers and, in Anna’s words, have been “given a rest” after they had finally repaid. Those who are not receiving loans have been replaced by other widows from the Kirombe Pentecostal Church which we have previously reported on. Consi, who would appear to be the eldest of the whole group at around 80 years old, arranged a mini recruiting seminar at the church for new members. This is where the new beneficiaries came from.

We have previously interviewed Consi and she is definitely an example and inspiration to many. She was supported in the recruiting by other good members of the group, Judith and Alice. There are four people who are presently slow payers but last week one of those came with a substantial lump sum of 300,000 UGX so they have no concerns there.

The smallest loan size is 300,000 UGX (US$80) and largest 1.2m UGX (US$320). Anna considers that the maximum a loan could go to is 2M UGX (approx $550) and we agree. 

Judith is proving to be a great help and is a back up to Anna, particularly in the Kirombe setting. She receives money from that group and puts it in the bank or brings it to Penninah. She is a widow who we have previously reported on as well, having first met her when she was breaking rocks for a living on a hillside about 5 kms outside Lira. She has been a great support to Hope Restoration Centre (UGA03a) and has also benefited well from the programme. Her support helps Anna who is constantly involved in travelling between Mbale and Lira, often a few times each month.


Personal Stories


big life changeJuspinina is 67 years old. She has nine children and 33 grandchildren and her husband died in 1997. Juspinina is now taking her fifth loan of one million Ugandan shillings. When we first met Juspinina several years ago she was raring goats. Now she keeps both goats and cows. She sells the goats to repay the loan as well as buy cows which she is able to make better profit from. Juspinina was very proud to show us that she had managed to build her own home that had iron on the roof. She explained that she thought she would die before she ever got to have this kind of house. Juspinina also supports her extended family who live with her and she pays rent for them also as the houses are very little.

Juspinina is an advisor to women in her church and described how some of her children drink a lot and she does not trust them but some of her children are Christian and she is able to trust them.  She makes sure that she does not give money to any of those who drink alcohol. Various family members help with the buying and selling of her stock and also help with taking the cows after school for grazing. Alongside the income of buying and selling her goats and cows, Juspinina sells milk from the cows.

She described some of her biggest challenges as thieves who come in the night and at times she sleeps with her cattle. She reports that her sons are too afraid to sleep at night with the cattle because many of the thieves bring weapons with them. Juspinina reports that she trusts in God for her own protection and for the protection of her cattle. Another challenge is the unpredictability of the market with buying and selling her stock. She also reports that there are more people in the surrounding region who are having businesses with goats and cows so there is more competition than there was previously.

Juspinina invited us to sit inside her new home. It was a small two room area, one area for sitting and the other for sleeping. Juspinina spoke of how immediately after her husband died in 1997, extended family came, her husband’s family, and took everything she had. She was left with nothing and was totally alone and at that point in her life she decided to trust in God. She described how she wants to live serving God and is determined to do so. Juspinina has made a huge amount of growth since we first saw her and is continuing on with supporting her family and managing the many challenges she has as an older Ugandan woman.


difficult lifeWe first met Judith 4-5 years ago sitting breaking up rocks with a small hammer. At that time she was making a living and providing for her three children by buying large rocks which she would then break into small pieces and sell them to the people making roads. Her husband died in 2008.  Throughout our time of meeting Judith she had a very close friend named Margaret who was also a widow with three children. In 2015 Margaret died and Judith now cares for all six children. Judith is HIV positive and had been encouraged over the years to go into a less demanding work situation. 

Now Judith buys and sells large bags of charcoal. This is a highly risky business as the government is trying to clamp down on the cutting down of trees and so they confiscate charcoal or wood when they discover it being transported. For this reason Judith goes out at night. She reports that she had gone out the night before with a few others who join together to pay for a truck. After they had travelled to collect the charcoal they were intercepted on the road and had to pay a bribe so that their charcoal would not be confiscated. Judith has had her charcoal confiscated twice so far but despite this she has been able to repay half of her loan. Judith reports that the price of buying is very high at the moment and due to the risks associated with this business we had a discussion about possible alternative businesses.


lots of challengesAnna is a 42 year old widow with five children. Her husband used to do work that involved bringing things back from Juba in Sudan and he was shot and killed on the way back from Juba. She now has her third loan of 800,000 Ugandan shillings and has a second-hand clothing business outside the main market. She reports that business is good but there are some big challenges as the local authorities are shifting people who are outside the market. Every evening she has to pack up her second-hand clothes and carry them back to her home and then set up again the next day. Rain is also a challenge as she is unable to have any shelter so she has to pack up if the rain is coming.

great worker



Anna described Dorcas as a good and faithful worker and she is the leader of the women who gather each week in the centre of town to share and worship and support one another. There are 8-10 women who met regularly and these women come from inside and outside the main market. Overall she reports that it has been a challenging year. Many people who come into town from the villages have not had money to spend this year as the harvest was not good and the financial difficulties of people in the villages impacts on businesses in town. 


Partnership's Influence within the Community

As in previous years, it is steady as she goes. The benefit is there and Anna continues to run a great programme improving lives. It is the testimony of people like Consi, for whom this has been transformative, that are so encouraging. 


Prayer and Praise Points

There are all the usual challenges - sickness, poor payment and family circumstances but beyond that this programme seems to continue to perform well. 



We like it that Anna does have some back up in this programme with Judith and Penninah. Anna did not have a good year in regards to her health and had at least one (but I think it was two) times in hospital when her respiratory issues got completely out of control.