It Is Okay If You Can’t Afford It

One of the most expensive bags in the world. Internet Picture

Today I saw a post on social media of someone sharing how they had been ill-treated at an establishment because they couldn’t meet the terms of something they wanted. More like you can’t afford it here go elsewhere. The comments got me reflecting on the different scenarios I have observed over the years concerning change and how people handle it. Most of us are not good at change, we will not accept that things have changed and therefore we have to change too. We look at change as shame but I think it is fine not to afford certain things. We can always work on affording but there shouldn’t be shame in not affording something at a given point.

The COVID 19 virus has overturned everything disrupting life as we knew it leaving many people out of jobs and business. The people who will come out of this are those who accept the change and look for a way out, rather than those who choose to live in denial.

When you lose a job and a business on which you depended, you can’t just go on like nothing changed. Logically you have to learn to live without certain things and find new ways of doing things until you are back on your feet.

Like in my previous blog, COVID 19 showed me how important an emergency fund and saving generally is. Nothing is guaranteed as we have observed in the past year. Reflecting on my interactions with money, had I done some things better or differently I would be in a better financial place today. I am not here to pour out my frustration but to share a few lessons that come to mind from my experiences and my search for financial knowledge.

  1. Don’t spend future money.

Don’t spend your salary or expected money in advance by taking things to pay for when the money comes, this will trick you into living beyond your means and you risk not saving. Advance means you have lived on two months’ pay in one month. You will always be indebted.

2. Don’t plan on money promised.

Don’t make plans premised on promised money because anything can happen even if it is your money one promised to pay back. First get the money then spend it accordingly. In case one doesn’t keep their promise you will be devastated and disorganized.

3. Don’t lend what you aren’t willing to lose.

Lend only what you are willing to lose unless you are doing it for business. Otherwise if one fails to pay (which is a possibility) the relationship will be broken, but you will be set back by the amount you have lost.

4. Don’t spend to please others/social media pressure.

Keeping up with the Jones will only hurt you. People are busy and they don’t care about your life. In any case they have theirs to deal with.

5. Don’t get caught up in sales and impulsive buying.

Don’t buy things based on feelings and because someone has said it is on sale. Buy what you need and in a planned way. Even the sales should be on your plan.

6. Assign your money-have a plan.

One financial enthusiast says ‘idle money is bored money and bored money is gone money’- which is true. If your money isn’t doing anything you will always have idle money which will go into anything that comes up. Save with goals in mind.

7. Beware of and learn how to deal with black tax.

Most of us are a result of extended family/community effort and we are grateful for everything. Help relatives and friends but have it in plan before you end up frustrated and bitter.Otherwise as long as you keep giving, we (us your people) shall keep taking even when we don’t have to.

8. Every earning is important- don’t wait for big money.

When you wait for big sums of money while you squander the coins will leave you bankrupt. Big money comes from small money, heard of one by one making a bundle? Most of us don’t do what we have planned because we think one day big money will land on our laps and we do big things. It will be quite a wait.

9. Live below your means.

Can’t be emphasized enough! Some of us don’t save at all because we think we earn little. We are just living a life we can’t afford. It is good to know ones lane and stay in it as you work on changing it. On every earning pay yourself first, meaning take out a percentage (minimum recommendation is 10%) and save it before you pay bills and spend on other things. When you have taken off what you have to you will find a way of living on the balance.

10. Be willing to change.

Don’t let your head be stuck in the clouds. When things change you ought to change too. Beware of your environment.

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Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital Giving Hope to Fistula Patients in Uganda

By Carolyne Muyama

Alice Emasu had five friends she was fond of in her primary school. During one of the political insurgencies, the country faced they were separated. She went to live and study in Kampala and her friends remained in Teso. When she came back home to visit after her studies, she was excited to meet her friends and perhaps share a few stories from the city. She went searching for them one by one and was shocked to learn that four of them had died due to childbirth complications and one was mentally ill. The death of Alice’s friends and the way they died would lead to the birth of Uganda’s only fistula specialized hospital. She was hurt by the loss of her friends and was concerned about how the other women who had given birth and survived were living given the complications of teenage pregnancies. She wanted to do something about it.

After years of research and consultations, Alice Emasu founded The Association for the Rehabilitation and Re-orientation of Women for Development (TERREWODE) NGO that has since been pioneering best practices for the elimination of obstetric fistula in Uganda for over 16 years. Known as Terrewode Women’s Community hospital, the facility aims to build community capacity to transform conventional healthcare and economic systems to improve the status and livelihood of women and girls concerning maternal and child health.

“Our aim now is to have as many medical experts trained to handle fistula as possible. The visiting experts we get provide training to the qualified health workers at the facility. The women who have to live with fistula for the rest of their lives need to be professionally managed that is why it is important to have experts available to such women,” said Emasu.

Terrewode collaborates with the Ministry of Health to provide surgical treatment to women and girls with obstetric fistulas at the facility in Soroti and also works with five regional referral hospitals including Mulago Hospital to provide free and quality treatment services to affected women and girls. They also take care of women and their caretakers by meeting their transport costs to and from the health facilities and other costs related to patient care during hospitalization where necessary.

The Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2016 shows that teenage pregnancies in Teso where the specialized facility is located stand at 31% of the total national burden.

According to Dr. Josephine Namugenyi the Medical Director of Terrewode, fistula is common among teenage mothers and very poor women who have difficulty accessing medical care.

Margret Ikabit is a 45-year-old mother of 9 from Katakwi District and has suffered and recovered from fistula.

“I was passing urine nonstop and it affected me emotionally. When I went to Terrewode, the doctors were very helpful. I was treated by many doctors. My husband was supportive during the treatment but my in-laws isolated me. They advised my husband to leave me and they stopped coming to our home. With counseling and prayer, I slowly healed and I learned to tailor and bake from Terrewode which I am going to harness when this COVID-19 situation calms down,” Ikabit narrated. 

Because the trauma fistula patients experience corrective surgery alone isn’t enough, but there is a need for a holistic fistula care approach to facilitate the reintegration process and restoration of women’s dignity the approach Terrewode uses.

Counsellor Maria Phiona Adiedo at Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital says women need continuous counseling after surgery to process and accept themselves because they are traumatized and don’t know how to deal with the shame that comes with this condition.

“We carry out an individual assessment to establish reintegration needs and subsequent empowerment training. These women then undergo two weeks of training under the Women’s Empowerment and Economic Self-reliance Centre intending to empower them to have a source of income to rely on,” said Adiedo.

Terrewode Women’s Community Hospital – Soroti is the third fistula specialized hospital in Africa after the Hamlin Fistula Hospital in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and the Fistula Care Plus Project in Niger. The hospital has a 60-bed capacity and treats 8 to 15 women per week. Most of the women treated in the hospital mainly come from Teso, Lango, Karamoja, Sebei, Bugisu Bukedi, Busoga, and neighboring countries like Kenya and South Sudan. 

The most common cause of obstetric fistula in developing countries is prolonged obstructed labor affecting approximately two million women and girls across Africa and Asia.

Obstetric fistula is a medical condition in which a hole develops in the birth canal as a result of childbirth. It can be between the vagina and the rectum and the ureter and or bladder. It is a failure to control urine or feaces.

In Uganda, it is estimated that 140,000 women were living with fistula by 2009 although Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) reported a reduction in the prevalence among Ugandan women who had experienced fistula from 3% in 2006 to 2% in 2011.

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Ten Business Ideas to Explore after COVID-19

Internet Pic

Tonight, President Yoweri Museveni is expected to make his 14th televised address since the lock-down following the outbreak of the corona-virus. It has been over 50 days of no work for many Ugandans, working from home for some and no school for every student, some people have suffered salary cuts and loss of jobs.

Every time there is a presidential address, there is hope that things will be eased for people to return to work or to go out there and find something to do to provide for their families. For three times now, the lockdown has been extended contrary to what people hoped, all this was to protect the population against COVID-19.

The president said lifting of the lock-down will be gradual which means even after today some groups may still not be able to work.

So, with the above in mind, what do we hope to do differently as we go back to the world where everything has changed.

Some people will have to start afresh, while most of us have to find new business ideas to add more income streams to what we have in place.

From my quick research, there is a suggestion that most businesses will shift online, education will go online and the demand for delivery services will increase.

I therefore came up with a list of the top 10 business ideas I think one can choose from in case they are stuck. The list below doesn’t suggest that any of it is easy but everything will take work, persistence and consistency. So, in no particular orders here goes;

  1. Delivery business
  2. You tube
  3. Blogging
  4. Baking
  5. Uber
  6. Academic writing
  7. Coaching
  8. Online entertainment
  9. Farming – people will always eat no matter what goes wrong
  10. Local tourism

You don’t have to be an expert at any of the above, you can learn online, find experts to learn from or perfect what you already know for those with some knowledge.

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My Four Main Lessons from the Lock-down

Investment and Cash-flow

Many financial gurus have differing explanations of what assets and liabilities are. It is beyond the simple explanation of what brings in money and what takes out money. For example, is a piece of land really an asset and is a car really a liability?

As we invest it is important to bear in mind the importance of creating cash flow investments because we all need cash to transact. In times like now, we need food, cash to buy food and medicine and other necessities which unproductive land and huge houses we live in alone may not help us much. Invest carefully and wisely.


It is high time we learnt to stay in connection with God individually without necessarily depending on a priest/pastor or sheikh. For over a month we haven’t been to places of worship and yet we are expected to keep our faith in God in also growing in faith.

For Christians the Bible encourages fellowship with one another, hence the importance of going to Church but at the end of the day we each need to seek God and have a personal relationship with Him if not for anything, for times like this #COVID19 period when we can’t gather or depend on others.

Family and friends

Police has reported an increase in domestic violence during the lock-down. Perhaps because people are spending more time together, they don’t know how to handle each other’s expectations and weaknesses and they just resort to fighting. Home or family, should be a place of safety, where we can be vulnerable and not be judged and where we are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them because out there the world is very harsh.

This time should have given couples chance to note areas of their marriage which need working on. Work just gives us an opportunity to run away from our realities at home and yet that doesn’t solve the issues.

It is important to work on our families and homes to make them safe for us and those we love because we have learnt that family is where we all go back to at the end of the day.

Hopefully this period has helped us cement our friendships and assess who should be let go and who should stay. It doesn’t help carrying around dead weight.

Income streams

Social media has carried hilarious comments on the lock-down and how Government keeps increasing #stayhome days. It is clear people are tired of staying home but more importantly, the effects of single income streams have begun to bite hard. Most businesses are closed and many employers are not able to pay salaries. The pressure of rent arrears and the struggle to feed the family have left many agitated. In fact, the reasoning is for Government to lift the lock-down so that people go back out to fend for their families who may soon die of hunger.

But that is not a story of everybody, some people can comfortably take care of their expenses and live their normal lives because they don’t depend on just one source of income.  

It is now clear that one source of income is not ideal for one to live on. In fact, financial experts advise up to at least 10 income streams. This pandemic should teach us to diversify our income streams, be alert for opportunities and develop a discipline of saving because surely, rainy days come.

The idea of creating and growing an emergency fund can’t be over emphasized as I have gone into the details of it in my previous post. 

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COVID-19 and My Emergency Fund

It is months now since the world was hit by a monster virus code named coronavirus that causes COVID-19 disease whose remedy scientists and doctors are still grappling with. It began from China and it looked like it would be contained there until it spread to other parts of the world. Now it is everywhere. For a while Africans thought it wasn’t a thing for blacks until countries started reporting cases and now deaths. This proved that everyone is vulnerable, no matter the race or social status. It is in the slums, the palaces and State Houses.

It is upon every individual to jealously protect their space and follow the World Health Organisation (WHO) and hygiene measures put in place by the Ministry of Health. Correctly and consistently washing hands with soap, use sanitizer, avoid touching the soft parts of the face i.e eyes, nose and mouth, keep a social distance of the recommended 4 metres and above all report all suspected cases to avoid infections.

In Uganda when the first case was reported, the President announced the closing of schools, places of worship, stopped large gatherings at marriage and burial ceremonies and advised that these should be attended by the few necessary people. A few days later there was a partial lock-down with restricted movement of vehicles and people with a curfew starting from 7 PM- 6 AM. Most businesses are closed apart from those which sell food stuffs and medical supplies.


This was new to Ugandans and there was a bit of panic and anxiety with people storming supermarkets to stock up on supplies for the days ahead. Some people were simply scared of staying home without going out and without socializing- Ugandans love partying!

Personally, the idea of growing an emergency fund made more sense than ever before. Everything came into perspective. There is a tendency to think things will always be as we know them but the pandemic has shown that things can change in a blink of an eye. It is better to prepare and nothing happens than not to prepare and hell breaks loose.

In an effort to understand finance, I have come across a lot of content talking about the importance of an emergency fund. Which is money put away for one to survive on for at least six months or a year should there be an interruption with their source of income. Most experts recommend an equivalent of one’s year’s salary. The idea is to live the lifestyle you are living for 6 months to 1 year of no income without struggling.

This fund is handy should one fall sick of an expected illness or get any sort of an unexpected problem. It is different from savings. Savings can be invested into anything of one’s choice but an emergency fund is just for that- emergency.

But how many of us do this especially in Africa or my Uganda? We are used to abundance, where fresh food is available and there is a sense of community. We didn’t ever imagine that one day, the whole world will shut down and everyone would be asked to stay home for safety. This was such a shocking turn of events. According to Bank of Uganda, only 3-5% of Ugandans save a portion of their monthly earnings regularly. Only 12% of Ugandans have bank accounts (Uganda Bureau of Statistics).

Of course, with this experience, many things will change going forward. Like how the people who experienced war appreciate peace, we might be more appreciative of what we have and use the resources at our disposal sparingly.

My biggest take away from this pandemic is not only diversifying income but to not eat with all fingers but deliberating growing my emergency fund because tomorrow is not promised to anyone. I was surprised to hear some Ugandans claiming NSSF should release a portion of their savings to use during this pandemic. That was just a week into the crisis. If the ones with an income were hit that hard, how about those whose survival depends on chance? I think as long as you have an income you are capable of saving and saving takes discipline. Discipline is cultivated over time.


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New Year New Direction

Happy New Year to you!

We thank God for 2020. A new year, new opportunities. Let us be deliberate about what we choose to do it to a point of no regret.

I have been doing a lot of thinking and decided to follow my heart into food content. I am no food expert but i love food. I appreciate good food and i take the food affair seriously. I have told my friends i will judge them according to how they present to me what they present not so much what they present.


Kamalea ni litore commonly known as bamboo. It is a delicacy among the Bamasaba of Eastern Uganda. If you are served this then you are special.

A meal with a little thought and love goes a long way. Maybe it is just me and what i grew up seeing. When an important/special person is visiting, you tell by the work that goes into the cooking and how it is all presented. I watched the women before me do this and i kinda took it on.

I love through food.

Since trying my hands on baking, i have learnt a few lessons. I didn’t grow up baking but i am learning as i go along. I saw my mother and her sister bake on a local stove, i knew i would one day do it. And now i bake. One of the upcoming posts should be about why I started #KarolzHouseofCake.

I hope to share what i will be eating, cooking and where special food corners are wherever i will be. Mostly the small ones which take ‘know who”to discover.  If you know of a place with local food to die for please share.

If you love to show your tummy some love, come along. Let us adventure.

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Govt should firmly deal with the Bududa situation

By Admin

Added 16th October 2018 05:11 PM

Teso always suffers floods that destroy crops and property and some cases lives are lost

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By Carolyne Muyama

On Thursday, October 11, landslides buried people in Bukalasi sub-County in Bududa district after heavy rains. By evening, over 30 people were confirmed dead, but the search is still on. Continuous heavy rains caused the flooding of River Suume, which swept away people and destroyed homes and property.

Bududa has always experienced landslides, but the most severe one happened in March, 2010 in Nametsi. Over 300 people were buried under the soil and many bodies weren’t recovered from the rabble despite all the efforts by the Government and other players. Many term this Nametsi area a mass grave because of the bodies that lie buried under the soil.

In an effort to avoid a similar occurrence the Government relocated the people from landslide prone areas of Bududa to Kiryandongo district. Surprisingly, some stubbornly refused to relocate saying they would rather die in their homes. It is not surprising that some that went came back claiming the land in Kiryandongo isn’t as fertile as theirs in Bududa.

Landslides are a natural phenomenon that occurs predominantly in mountainous areas. According to a Geological Survey of Finland 2014 Report, landslides are normally triggered by long lasting rainfalls and unfavourable conditions such as high slope angles, loss of vegetation cover, unfavourable geological structures, rock types or soil types.

Mt. Elgon slopes have been deforested for agriculture; therefore, slopes are no longer stable. In Uganda, landslides prone districts are Kabale, Mbarara, Rukungiri, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kabarole, Bushenyi, Kanungu, Kapchwora, Sironko and Mbale and indeed they experience landslides time and again although not as frequently and as severe as Bududa does.

Uganda National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) announced mid-September as the onset of seasonal rainfall and indeed the rains are here. This month is the peak of the rainfall and the rains end in November or around early December. Areas announced to receive excess rainfall are Bududa, Bulambuli, Bundibudyo, Kasese, Kabale, Rubanda and Kisoro, which are mountainous areas and landslide prone.

There is a fully fledged regional and international climate forum of scientists concerned with reviewing the prevailing and expected state of the global climate systems and their implications on the performance of seasonal rainfall over east African region. This forum works in collaboration with international fora like the World Meteorological Organisation based in Geneva. This forum is called the Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum and is co-ordinated by Inter-Governmental Authority on Development.

The fiftieth Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF50) met in Kigali Rwanda in August to provide consensus seasonal climate outlook for the months of October, November and December (OND) for guidance to reduce climate-related risks in support of key socioeconomic sectors and resilience building for sustainable development and provide a regional interaction platform for decision makers, climate scientists, research scientists as well as users of climate information.

Uganda, as a member of CHACOF, participated fully and gained from a wealth of ideas and good practices shared at the forum. And indeed shortly after this forum, a detailed weather forecast was compiled by Uganda National Meteorological Authority and shared with the media.

The UNMA called upon district authorities to update their contingency plans for better co-ordination in case of any weather and climate disaster that might occur during this season. Areas of

Teso always suffers floods that destroy crops and property and some cases lives are lost.

Communities were advised to construct proper drainage, open drainage channels to avoid flash floods and water logging and local leaders to mobilise communities to clear the possible water drainage areas and encourage tree planting along riverbanks and clear water pathways to avoid silting.

All these suggestions are welcome, but can the people afford these mitigations? Who is following up to ensure that the contingency plans are in place and updated? What channels are these messages being passed through, who do they target?

The Government should keenly monitor and evaluate some of these programmes and how they are handled. Coming up with these smart suggestions is not enough when they are not yielding desired results.

For the case of Bududa, warnings are always issued and the people know when danger is coming and yet they continue to die in big numbers while the Government continues to send relief to the affected communities and the same repeats every other season. The Government needs to take a firm decision to forcefully relocate all the people in affected areas or more lives will be lost.

This is an issue that needs to be handled carefully yet firmly otherwise people will continue to die, if we continue to do things in the same way.

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Agriculture Is Still Uganda’s Future

By Carolyne Muyama

Vegetables at the presidential cottages

Those in urban areas and don’t have big space can grow vegetables on their verandas or small spaces to avoid buying everything from the market.

According to the 2016 Poverty Assessment by World Bank, between 2006 and 2013 poverty in Uganda reduced from 53.2% to 34.6% and this is attributed to the significant increase in agricultural income, good rainfall, favorable prices, and political stability. During that period Uganda reduced monetary poverty at a very rapid rate. The proportion of the Ugandan population living below the national poverty line declined from 31.1% in 2006 to 19.7% in 2013. Similarly, the country was one of the fastest in Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce the share of its population living on $1.90 per day or less, from 53.2% in 2006 to 34.6% in 2013.

In Uganda, the agriculture sector employees over 70% of the population and contributes 26% to the national GDP. In the financial year 2016/2017 government increased the funds towards agriculture by 65% to 832b although this is only 3% of the national budget, which is way below the Maputo declaration of 2008 that requires members to apportion at least 10% of their national budgets to agriculture. The argument here could be that Government of Uganda has invested in other social sectors like energy, transport and health care which directly impact agriculture.

It is without a doubt that agriculture will play a big role in achieving Uganda’s Vision 2040. The overall objective of the agriculture sector is to promote food and nutrition security and contribute to household income through deliberate coordinated interventions. Agriculture accounts for 79% of the national poverty reduction observed between 2006 and 2013, which underscores the important role the sector plays in creating lucrative livelihoods.

As the backbone of Uganda’s economy, agriculture contributes to over 70% of Uganda’s export earnings and provides the bulk of raw materials for predominantly agro-based industries. That means government needs to prioritize the agriculture sector and support and encourage the farmers through research, affordable implements and access to markets.

The biggest percentage of farmers in Uganda is of small scale basically growing food for consumption and a small portion for sale. Even those who do commercial farming are doing it on small pieces of land but are contributing immensely to the country’s economy as illustrated. Uganda still grapples with the challenge of how to shift farmers from subsistence to commercial agriculture in a hope that this will improve GDP and Ugandans out of poverty.

The encouraging news is research has proved that an acre of land is enough for a farmer in Uganda to shift from the poor to the non poor farming household. The research also deduced that increasing farm size alone is not a silver bullet but only one ingredient of the successful structural transformation in Uganda. There is need for a reexamination of agricultural policies with a focus on extension services, input availability and quality, and access to credit.

In fact research has shown that significant output of farm size stops after 10 acres. This means even with the current land challenges in Uganda, farmers can still maximize output from their land and get out of poverty. This means the biggest percentage of Ugandans have a chance of contributing to the development of this country if they decided to make good use of the land they own.

President Yoweri Museveni’s emphasis for Ugandans to make use of the land they have to engage in agriculture both for food production and commercial purposes is in tandem with the research. Meaning leaders should continue to encourage people to utilize their land as government works on improving breeds, controlling pests and availing markets for farmers.

In Uganda mechanization of agriculture is almost non-existent mostly because Ugandans cannot afford the cost of buying and maintaining implements like tractors. The terrain of the soils is also another factor and yet the most fertile soils are located in hilly areas. There is a practice in Uganda to parcel land into small pieces, which makes large scale farming almost impossible. The issue of absentee landlords also adversely affects agriculture output as the rich people buy off villages of land, which they leave idle and leave the sellers poor and with little or no space for farming. The land policy should also seriously be revised. The issue of selling land to foreigners should be addressed urgently if Uganda is to maximally gain from agriculture given its impact on the economy. Lest, foreigners start selling food to indigenous Ugandans in their own country.

The climate projections in Sub Saharan Africa forecast an increase in the intensity and frequency of droughts. The rain fed character of agriculture in Africa presents challenges as the small scale farmers who are responsible for the largest percentage of agriculture production are the least equipped to adapt. Uganda still relies more on natural endowment than on created advantage like lower transport and electricity costs, superior seed technology, and stronger institutions.

The President’s effort to show people how to irrigate their gardens during the dry season is welcome but cannot be enough. Much as Ugandans need to take harvesting water seriously government should drill dams for communities especially those whose water sources are few and scarce. The extended drought we have had in the past months has shown that if we don’t think outside the box on how to address this challenge more Ugandans will continue die of hunger and the economy will greatly stall.

President Museveni carrying grass for mulching his banana plantation in Kawuwu.

President Yoweri Museveni carrying grass to mulch his matooke garden at Kawumu Presidential Demonstration Farm (2017). Picture by Muyama 

There should be an arrangement by government to ensure that semi- arid areas where agriculture doesn’t do well get food from other areas of the country that produce food in plenty.

Of course the issue of silos should be taken seriously and at village level each homestead should have a granary where food is stored for times when there is food scarcity. It is a shame for a country like Uganda with very fertile soils and two rainfall seasons to be asking for regional or international help because certain communities don’t have food and yet during bumper harvests food rots away in gardens. The reason why farmers sell off food crops like maize and beans from their gardens is because they don’t have means of storing these crops for seasons when there is scarcity for them to get some reasonable money.

As government encourages more people to get into agriculture or to increase production, the issue of market should be addressed because as we have seen, people will only produce the quantity the market will consume. Agriculture is one of the surest ways every Ugandan can make a living because as sure as we live we shall eat. Our biggest task it to strive to meet regional and international market standards.

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Uganda Media Centre Magazine

office-of-the-president-magazine-2017 Click on the link above to download PDF

via #LiberationDay17 Magazine — Uganda Media Centre

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October the Cancer Awareness Month, Reason for my Clean Head

Me and my little sister Christine

Me and my little sister Christine

This year brought some of the saddest news I have heard since my childhood days. When it broke I didn’t know what to say. In fact I didn’t react. It was too painful to take in. The next few days after that I struggled to push every thought related to that to the extreme back of my mind. I hoped I didn’t hear correctly. But how not, it was from the horse’s mouth. A very effective communicator, there is no way it was a mix up of words. In fact she had used the right words for the situation. No second guessing what she meant.
My aunt, the lady I call ‘Mum’ had CANCER. She had delivered the news calmly and left and gone back to her work only to return weeks later to do her city routines. I did not bring up this discussion again in all the conversations we had thereafter. I refused to accept what I heard. It only sank in when she told me of a scheduled surgery to scoop some tissue from the affected area for further tests. I knew then that it was serious.
I was among the very few people she had told and this was not to be discussed with anyone else until she decided. I am sure the person who escorted her to hospital didn’t even know what she was dealing with. So the brave woman drove herself to hospital to the surprise of her doctors.

After weeks of waiting, she confirmed my fears.
All this time I had questions in my mind. I was angry, disappointed, confused I didn’t know what to do. I hoped the tests were negative; in fact I was sure they would be negative. I was wrong. So many nights I went to bed and stared into the dark until wee hours. I had to share this with somebody, I had to let this pain out, I had to have a real long conversation with God, and I had questions.

As a little girl I lost both my parents a few years apart. Or at least that is what it seemed like to me. My little mind had to deal with all that pain and i had to somehow console myself and move on with the world. It never stops you know! Worse still I was separated from my siblings because we had to be looked after by different families (relatives). So each one of us dealt with the loss our own way and we definitely were brought up under different circumstances. We only saw each other once a year if we were lucky. One of us didn’t make it but the two of us survived the harsh world.

We had to adapt to life as quickly as possible and learnt to be adults before the right time. Life was a roller coaster thereafter and I will spare you the details. We are here now, bless the Lord.

During our adult life God gave my sister and I a mother. You know God can destroy a village to save one person. After all that went on we had a mother again. She opened her heart to us. We have now grown close and we are more like sisters. She has cared for us and shared her life with us. I know from a special place in her heart she wishes us well.
Now imagine my disappointment when this woman I have grown to love so much and embrace as my mother breaks the news of a possibility of her having CANCER. She calmly broke the news to me and quickly consoled me saying she will be fine. I knew she was only doing what mothers do, I think, being strong for their children. With the little I knew about CANCER it was hard to take in. I remember the day I openly talked about it I cried myself to sleep. It was too much pain to take at that time but from when I started talking about it I started seeing hope. When I finally confronted God with this matter I had an assurance it would be well.

The journey is still on but there is HOPE. We haven’t given up and she hasn’t lost HOPE. She is a STRONG woman and she never gives up. That’s the one thing I am still struggling to learn from her. It’s not been easy at all and if you have watched a loved one in pain you kind of get it. From the loss of hair, appetite, weight to the endless pain, some days are just better than others.

We have learnt to celebrate the small things that we take for granted in life. That she could sit up some times was cause for celebration, when she got out of bed and came to the living room we celebrated, any news of her eating was a miracle. Each one of us monitored her progress in different ways. We no longer complain, we thank God for the far He has brought us and pray that His healing continues in her life. It will be well. This should also teach us to pray for those in a similar situation.

For the Cancer Awareness Month- October, I decided to shave my hair off instead of carrying a pink ribbon on my chest. Many of us women cannot imagine waking up bald, let alone going out with our hair unattended to. Hair is a woman’s glory, that’s biblical. It adds umph to our outlook. An outfit is not complete without neatly done hair. It is the reason we shall spend hours in the salon just to have it right. Now imagine one morning waking up and your treasured hair remains on the pillow? It is horrific, right?
Cancer patients are put on a treatment called Chemotherapy depending on the stages of the disease. Among the adverse effects of chemo is loss of hair. This happens almost as soon as you start the treatment. It is not easy adjusting to the fact that your hair is no more especially for those who hair is such a big deal.

So Mum lost her hair within the first week of chemo. We are now used to the fact that she has no hair but we are sure it will grow back once this is all over. So you now understand why I got rid of my hair. My shaven head earned me lots of unnecessary attention. First the barber couldn’t believe it when I asked him to cut off everything. He sure gave me a piece of his mind about my own hair. Never mind that we were meeting for the first time. Everywhere I have gone, people especially ladies look at me and look again. It was uncomfortable at first but I got used to it. Now I don’t even notice the stares at all. I have gone through all the why did you cut your hair off, why do you have a bald head, why this why that? A few of them have taken me aside and inquired why my husband wanted my hair off. ‘The only reason you would cut off your hair like that is if your husband orders you to.’ Poor man! But yeah, that is what some people think of marriage.
Also people will have something to say about your life, it doesn’t have to have anything to do with them. People will always talk. Ignore the whispers, discouragements, the strong negative opinions, the judgment and all that negative energy that people like throwing at others. When you lose weight they will talk, when you gain they won’t shut up. You are either too aggressive or too passive. We can never mind our business and let people be, can we?

Cancer Awareness

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