The aim of the Preparation for Social Action (PSA) Program is to impact the material, spiritual and collective life of men and women within the communities where they reside, empowering them to become promoters of community well-being. In all spaces dedicated to study, reflection, and consultation, attention is paid to encouraging the equal participation of women and men.
At the heart of the PSA program is knowledge. While many development and education programs concern themselves with the acquisition of knowledge, and at times with its application, the PSA program views its participants as protagonists in the development of their communities who must learn to engage in its generation, application, and diffusion within their communities. The impact of these efforts can often be seen at the level of individual participants, manifest in different aspects of their lives including business, agricultural, educational, and family life.
In this section of our website, we hope to share occasional stories that illustrate the impact of the PSA program on the lives of individual participants.
FROM GRASS TO GRACE: A MOTHER WHO ASPIRES TO BE A MODEL FARMER IN HER COMMUNITY. (Apr 4, 2019)
Ruth Aliyinza is a house wife, a mother of three children, and a Senior 2 drop-out residing in Danida with her Husband. "I conceived my first child while in Senior 2 and had to spend some years home to nurse the pregnancy and as well take care of my baby. Before long I was pregnant again and that is how my studies came to an end because I decided to get married," she explains as her voice lowers.
Ruth freely shared her life experience with us as she went ahead to explain, "......My husband gave me 400,000Ugx to start business but because I had no idea about business, I never wrote down the list of items purchased, their cost price, how much I was going to sell them and the profits I was expecting. I could not know whether I was making losses or profits. After a short while, I could no longer afford to buy more produce to replace my stock and the business collapsed".
Bernadette, the PSA coordinator for Jinja region, affirms that in the past Ruth shared with her this scenario about her experience in the business world. "I remember Aliyinza telling me that she did not know that when one opens up a business one needs to keep books of record. When you study lesson 9 in the unit of Addition and Subtraction, you are tasked to imagine you have a business and you use the worksheets to create a book of record. This study reminded her of the past mistakes".
When Ruth was informed about the PSA program by a friend, she came to learn there was an element of agriculture taught in this program in which she had vested interest. She was happy to join the afternoon class of 30 participants in April 2016, and would go on to study 18 units of the PSA curriculum together with her group in just over 2 years. She found the class a step ahead. They were already on lesson 5 of the unit Properties, but this did not stop her from joining. She narrates that other than the agriculture practices introduced during future sessions, she enjoyed the reading classes as these helped her improve her English, and also sharing with fellow participants. "For the time I was away from school, I forgot everything: reading, writing, and speaking English. So, I started from there. It was interesting because I could also read a paragraph and I would say, wow! We could sit as a group and when you read a paragraph someone else would read after you and if you did not know a word, friends would help you. Since all of us were not fluent in our reading and writing, I determined continue with the study. We wrote exercises and when I scored 40% I would be very happy....... Out of the 30 participants 11 of us managed to complete the program and graduated in August 2018".
As they proceeded through the PSA curriculum, the participants gained new knowledge in many areas: mathematics, science, health, environmental issues, early childhood education and service to the community. To put their new knowledge into practice, the group started a "Diversified High Efficiency" garden plot in Wairaka Training centre with accompaniment of their tutor Wilberforce Okwale. From the small plot, they managed to harvest 2 sacks of maize in an area that would normally yield ½ sack, which gave them new zeal for farming.
Back at home where Ruth is renting a residential room, she started a "city garden," growing vegetables in used containers and old basins due to a lack of available land. She harvested onions, tomatoes and greens which she says saved her from daily spending on vegetables. This inspired the neighbours who also gained interest in the venture.
"I do not regret my time in the PSA class although friends used to say am wasting time. I got the knowledge of city gardening and I can now get food for my family from the simple city gardens. I managed to improve my spoken English over the years, got skills in public speaking and business empowerment. It is through this capacity building, that I managed to get a job at a Hotel in Jinja where I was recommended because I was equipped with agricultural skills which the manager was interested in".
When asked about how she is using the knowledge acquired, she said she has started sharing the knowledge and skills she has gained with women in her community during individual conversations and community gatherings. She described financial difficulties as a major issue affecting women. “Some men don’t allow their women to work, I really don’t understand why. Some want to work but they have got responsibilities of children. Now I have got two to three people whom I’ve been talking to in such situations…but it is hard to know the effect.”
Bernadette notes: “But it shows that some of the spiritual qualities we have been trying to think about… patience. In the world, we are facing a number of challenges, and if you find a friend who still looks up to you, you don’t grow weary. When you look at the Manifestations of God, they never chased people away.”
Ruth agreed and continued: "In fact, we have also been talking with some people in the community about growing their own food so they don’t need to buy tomatoes, onions, greens every day in the market. At least if you have some place, try put your buckets and sacks, fix your soil and plant your things, you will be saving money every day. we are planning to set up a backyard garden at the home of Mrs. Owori Florence who listened to my speech during a community gathering and was inspired with what I was doing. She approached me and wanted me to support her set up a city garden at her home. I was excited to support her on this. We have already started the preparations". When asked if we could visit the site, Ruth happily led us to the home of Florence where we found a compost manure pit that had been emptied and the black soil applied to the allocated space that was tilled as they wait for the rains since the ground was too hard.
Ruth explains that from the book Nurturing Young Minds, she has learnt how to handle her children by teaching them spiritual aspects, discipline and having respect for elders. They also know the routine activities they are supposed to do every day. She can now table important issues and discuss with her husband and as a result they managed to raise 3 Million Shillings which they used to acquire 1 acre of land in Bugiri.
Ruth plans to have her family settle in Bugiri in their own home and practice agriculture. "I am planning to do my small business and start a farm where I can work because I have all the knowledge I need. The only thing am lacking is capital. I plan to settle down and concentrate on my farming business using the knowledge acquired from DHE Plots and Planting Crops, and follow the accounting knowledge acquired to manage my financial records. My vision is to be a model farmer. I am going to start a demonstration farm in my village basing on the practice of using raised beds for people to learn from and improve their livelihoods. I plan to invest in sweet bananas and onions among others, since I have learnt a lot from the visits that we have continually had to various farms with the Kimanya-Ngeyo Agriculture team. In fact I plan to invite the Kimanya-Ngeyo team to always visit and advise me on how to better improve my yields".
When asked if she still had her book of Addition and Subtraction she heartily responded; "Eh..., why not? it will guide me. Even in agriculture I have Planting Crops, [Diversified High Efficiency Plots], Growth of A Plant and other books that will guide me". She says she is highly positive that many people will learn from what she practices.
By: Agnes Kizire & Sally Nourani