Empowered People Empower Others – Rubirizi, western Uganda

Over time, SFEA has registered great success in poverty reduction through our community micro-finance intervention. Stories of transformation at individual and community level keep streaming, encouraging us that it is indeed possible to see a world free from poverty. Kiconco’s story is no ordinary one, it’s a story depicting community transformation through a simple woman’s dream.

Kiconco

Elivalda Kiconco, CMMF beneficiary via COVOID (SFEA partner in Rubirizi district)

Elivalda Kiconco is 52 years old who lost her husband at a young age and had to quickly adjust to single motherhood. The demands of parenting forced her to quit her teaching job because of the long distance between her home and village school she worked at. She then decided to concentrate on  subsistence farming  which would  provide food for her family and earn some little income to cater for the basic. At that time, she had a small tea farm,  banana plantation and she would also grow some vegetables.

 “It was so difficult, at the beginning of each school term I would get so stressed out to the point of almost being hospitalized. But somehow with handouts from some kind friends and relatives we got through the days. “She recalls.

 In 2011, Kiconco after hearing numerous stories about how CMMF had transformed an entire village, she decided to visit that particular village just to confirm the stories and perhaps   learn more about the CMMF methodology. She left the meeting convinced about CMMF, she it to help move her to the next step.  Later COVOID facilitators agreed to train the group she had mobilised in her village, and that market the birth of the first CMMF group in Kiconco’s village. COVOID is one of SFEA’s partner organisations operating in western Uganda.

With her children grown and almost through with school, Kiconco’s focus shifted from school fees to addressing a her community needs. She had always dreamed of starting up her own school. She had observed that parents in her community had one option of school for their children and it was quite a distance.  Many of the  young children (aged 1-5 years) were lingering around the village because they could not manage to walk the long distances. So they had to wait until they got to 6 years or older to start school. This was not helping with their early childhood development process. Kiconco hoped that she could address this gap by starting up an Early Childhood Learning centre / Kindergarten.

Kiconco facilitating and ECD class

Kiconco facilitating and ECD class

With the help of the CMMF group, Kiconco started saving  with her vision in mind. In 2012,  with a loan of UGX 200,000, she set up 2 classrooms at the back of her compound. She then decided to start with 7 pupils but the number soon grew to over 25. She asked parents to contribute just UGX 10,000 towards facilitation of the caregivers and teachers. By the end of 2013, 25 graduated and transitioned to primary school. Currently Kiconco has graduated 2 sets to primary and has 25 more in the centre going through early learning. She employs one staff at the kindergarten.

“I am still growing, I have made bricks and hope to construct more rooms so I can expand the kindergarten and hopefully employ more people,” said Kiconco.

 All of Kiconco’s group mates speak of her. They are pleased with the different innovations she has brought to the village. John one of the members and also area chairman, is so grateful that Kiconco introduced them to CMMF. “CMMF is a liberator, it liberated us from poverty. We used to struggle to get loans from these banks but now we no longer struggle because we can save and borrow from our own bank. People have built good homes, they take their children to school and can afford to dress well.”

At 52, you could say Kiconco should be slowing down, but this is far from her mind. Upon successful establishment of her kindergarten, Kiconco plans to set up a small village vocational centre to help impart skills to adolescent girls.

Bye-bye

Kiconco with some of the pupils at the centre