Cash grant supports single refugee mother to abandon risky activities

Mubere with some of her fermentaed porridge bottles

 

Activities like digging, fetching water and firewood are routine household chores in most African settings. However, Arombo Mubere,25, a Congolese refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), did the same in the night’s wee hours to make ends meet and supplement the food rations.

The single mother of four children arrived in Western Uganda’s Kyangwali refugee settlement near Lake Albert–the natural boundary between DRC and Uganda in March 2018 and could hardly feed her children two meals a day. The children, in return, resorted to stealing food from the neighbours and risked mob justice if the owners caught them.

“I decided to start fetching and selling water and firewood to other people in the settlement and host communities. This work was not easy because I needed to fetch five jerrycans of water to raise just Shs1000 ($0.28) a day,” Mubere says this could hardly help provide family needs, especially food. 

 “It was risky since we had to wake up at night to fetch water before the lines at the boreholes grew too long,” she narrates.

 “Collecting firewood was even more dangerous since the forest reserve had restricted access and was highly guarded.” Mubere recounts further.

Other than exposing her to various forms of violence like rape, Mubere crossed thick bushes harbouring thieves, wild animals, and threats of all kinds in the wee hours of the night to collect firewood. 

“My 10-year-old child and I would also get odd jobs like digging people’s gardens for as long as six hours a day to earn less than a dollar, “she reminisces.

Mubere’s turning point came in January 2020 when a caseworker with LWF identified her as a vulnerable person who qualified to receive support under the Reconnecting Lives, vision and Empowerment (ReLiVE) project funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)

As one of the benefits intended to empower her economically, leave a dignified life and ensure self-sustenance, the single mother was enrolled for training on business skills like customer care, management and proper hygiene.

Mubere preparing porridge for her business

After the training, the 25-year-old chose to revive her bottled fermented porridge business; she had previously started in DRC but collapsed due to political instabilities. She sells porridge locally made from maize, fermented sorghum and millet.

“I knew it had less competition compared to other businesses [in the settlement],” Mubere speaks with confidence. 

From the business skills Mubere attained during the training, she has managed to market her porridge business and make it popular in the settlement.

Everybody in the village, Mubere says, knows her porridge is good. “People come looking for me. I also target to sell during food distribution time.” She adds.

In April 2020, Mubere received from LWF Shs400,000 (about $108) as startup capital for her porridge business and received a similar amount of money in December the same year to boost her business. 

In her cohort, 100 other women beneficiaries at risk received similar training and cash assistance. Indeed, with the above start capital, Mubere’s business has managed to break through despite the financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic 

 

 “I can make a weekly profit of Shs40,000 (about $10.81), and can provide basic needs for myself and the children with ease,” she states further, “I have also hired two plots of land where I plant food for my family and sale the surplus,”

The cash assistance advanced to Mubere has benefitted her family alone and had a positive impact on the whole community since she employs two causal labourers to work in her garden as she concentrates on the other business.