COMMERCIAL BANANA FARMING IN UGANDA

BY Paul Ndiho, Isingiro, Uganda

Bananas are widely grown in Uganda as a staple food to generate income for farmers. In Western Uganda, approximately 300 Kilometers from Kampala, near the Ugandan – Tanzanian border, a retired Central Bank executive is cashing in on commercial Banana farming or commonly known as (Matooke).

Ugandans have been eating Bananas (Matooke) for many years. In fact, more than 10million people eat bananas as their main food source in Uganda and many more feed on it across the region. Commercial Banana Farming

In the Insigiro district of Western Uganda, a retired Central Bank executive, Engineer Johnson Mubangizi, owner of several arches of banana plantations, is making a lot of money by growing bananas for commercial export. Mr. Mubangizi harvests about 70 – 100 bunches of bananas for sale that brings in about three thousand dollars a month.  For a retired bank executive, three thousand dollars might not be a lot of money, but for ordinary people, it’s most certainly a lot of money — And very few professional make that much money in a month.

“Farming is very fantastic thing. In the first instance, you are assured of food which is a basic survival right. You are sure that your people will have food. Secondly, farming beyond subsistence is a good thing because you produce more food for export. For export outside of you area — so we get people coming here to buy Matooke to take it to Kampala, we also sale some in Mbarara and of recent my product was going directly to Juba, South Sudan.”

Mr. Mubangizi’s fascination with banana farming started when he was still a young man and he credits his parents for giving him those skills. It’s common practice in this part of the country for people to have vested interests in farming, because agriculture is still the backbone of the economy. For Mubangizi, this tradition has been passed on from generation to generation.

“This banana plantation is about six arches and it has its own historic attachment. It’s older than me, I was born in 1955 and it was already here. It belonged to my grandfather, who lived here in the 30s. So he had this plantation during the Second World War.  Then when he died in 1947, he left it with my father and when he died in 1987, he left it with me. Now you can see where we have come from – maybe I could say probably in 80 -90 years. But still, when people look at this plantation, it’s like as if it was planted a few months ago”.

After retirement, Mubangizi revamped and renovated his entire plantation, assuring himself of excellent income every month. However, scientist and banana farmers alike are worried about a new type of bacteria called “banana wilt” which infects the plant and contaminates soil, resulting in huge losses and it’s threatening to wipe out all the plantations in the region.

 “We have been attached by bacterial wilt and actually each family has had a little share of it. But what we have done – as a measure is to up root whichever you find sick, you uproot the whole thing. We started by burying them but then we discovered that burying them was not the best solution. So you chop into small pieces put them in a place and they dry there.”

Ugandan government Scientists at the Kawanda research station in Kampala, Uganda are inching closer to finding improved varieties of genetically modified bananas that are resistant to the bacteria.

Dr. Geoffrey Arinaitwe, a lead researcher at Uganda’s banana research program says the bananas will not only increase output but also make the crop more affordable.

“We put pro vitamin A in Banana, it is done in a public research institute, once we have these bananas produced, they are basically for free, you give these bananas to farmers, they grow them over and over again, continuously eating these bananas and reducing the risk of Vitamin A deficiency, it’s the cheapest approach, it is cheaper than buying these capsules of bio fortified foods.”

Africa’s agricultural sector is set to become a 1 trillion US dollar industry by 2030 if governments and the private sector radically rethink policies and support for farmers, according to the World Bank.

The continent’s food market, currently valued at 313 billion US dollars a year, could triple if farmers modernized their practices and had better access to credit, new technology, irrigation and fertilizers.

Governments must now adopt new policies to enable farmers expand agriculture across the continent and take advantage of the increase in global demand for food as well as fetch higher prices for their produce.

18 comments

  • How do u plant bananas on a small scale and what artificial ferti5lisers do yottu use.

    Like

  • how can i join the business

    Like

    • Hello Polo,
      Thanks for the email. Well, doing your own business certainly frees you up and you become your own boss. But you have to be committed and dedicated to it because for you to succeed, you need to invest time and money. But most importantly you have to have the passion for doing business — Don’t go in for the seek of wanting to make money.
      Thanks
      Paul

      Like

  • Tell Me How I Can Basically Do This Bussiness Not Only How Advantageous It Is

    Like

  • Thanks a lot, its is such and inspirational work
    How do get connected to [Johnson Mubangizi] the Ugandan Banana Farmer….How do I contact him.

    Like

  • Dear sir,
    I need your help to find exporting company in Uganda to export banana to Egypt.

    Like

    • Hello Moustafa,
      I hope this email finds you well. Sure I can certainly help you with this… But I need more information from you and how many turns of bananas you will be looking at. Please send me more details.
      Paul

      Like

      • Dear Anis,

        Thank you to start communication with Paul regarding Banana business with EGYPT and to answer some of his quick quotation mentioned below.

        Dear Paul,

        Hope you are fine…

        Thank you for your prompt reply, I need a full information about CF price of Banana to Egypt East port said port and also some photos for banana productions in Uganda.

        Thanks & regards

        Moustafa Osman Managing Director Agrofarm Trade

        Sakr Quraish building no. 95, Sheraton Cairo, Egypt

        Tel +20 222694740

        Fax +20 222670247

        M +20 12 88988166

        Email : Moustafa.osman@agrofarmtrade.com WebSite : http://www.agrofarmtrade.com

        Disclaimer: “The information in this email is intended only for the person(s) or entity to whom it is addressed and may contain confidential or privileged information. If you are not the intended recipient, please notify the sender immediately, delete the original message and do not disclose the contents to any other person, use it for any purpose or store or copy the information in any medium.” Please consider the environment before printing.

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      • Nabaggala Phoebe

        dear sir am phoebe & I need yo help about matooke farming on small scale. space(50*80) help with the procedures from the start.the place is at Budo.

        Like

  • Libolio Kithaghenda

    Please let us understand how best we can make banana cultivation a profitable venture here in Northern Uganda.

    Like

  • Pingback: COMMERCIAL BANANA FARMING IN UGANDA | E2theWorld

  • Reblogged this on UG-WEST.BIZ and commented:
    Friday Extract (from paulndiho.com)

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  • Nabaggala Phoebe

    my email address is nabaggalaphoebe@gmail.com

    Like

  • I am a young farmer I planted 1 acre of bananas last year but my land is small yet I want to expand my plantation.i’ve heard of the doubling & tripling methods of planting bananas.how applicable are they?

    Like

  • Lutwama abdukalim

    Nice work keep it up but I wanted to visit you am coming any time

    Like

  • Otim Kithaghenda Libolio

    LIBOLIO’S “SURVIVING” PROFILE

    Biography
    Born on 28th December 1965, I am the third born to the family of Modesto Ntambireki and Kabugho Catherina. I was born in a village called Muyina on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains, Kasese District Uganda. My tribe is referred to as Bakonzo one of the largest Bantu ethnic groups living around Rwenzori ranges to Congo Basin.

    Religion
    I grew up adhering to the catholic faith as practiced by my parents. Baptized in infancy, I underwent catechumen instructors from which I was inspired and wished to become a catholic priest. I got registered to join seminary but due to financial and health difficulties in my family, I could not attain my ambition.

    Family life
    Having served as Rwenzururu fighter under the ethnic clashes between fhe Batoro and Bakonzo tribes that was intensified from 1962 following the Uganda independence and multiparty elections, my father Modesto survived death but was permanently disabled both mentally and physically. He in addition suffered political harassment, detentions and torture. As a result, he could not effectively care for the family.Without basic necessities such as health care, the family lost 7 (seven) children to preventable diseases – cholera, malaria and diarrhea. Schooling became almost impossible. And as children became severely burdened by poverty and neglect, the surviving rest of us children became prone to rights violation such as child labour, verbal abuses, denial of food and copal punishments by extended family members and neighbours.

    Education
    I joined primary one at the age of 6 in 1972 at Katsungiro primary school. One kind neighbour offered to meet my scholastic requirements up to primary five 1976. As a farmer, this kind neighbour (Mr. Kinda Jonathan Rukara) paid all school fees until his own children and relatives joined secondary school. Being well disciplined, hard working and social, the Headmaster then, Mr Stephen Maathe Madebe, with the approval of the school management sponsored my studies from primary six to seven.

    Trouble happened when I performed well in the 1978 PLE (Primary Leaving Examination) with upper second grade; I was admitted at Saad Memorial Senior Secondary School, then the only institution at that level in Kasese District. Although only 9 kilometers away from home, where I could even walk daily, it was not possible to get one who would willingly pay for the school fees. I tried illegal cross-border trade to Congo ferrying coffee and saved some money barely enough to enable me start the secondary education in the second term of 1979. Soon I ran out of money for the third term. This resulted into being chased away from school every now and then. The year ended when I had only managed to pay 800 shilling out of fee required 1300 shillings.

    For the second year, I had managed to raise shillings 600 shillings from the trade and borrowing from kind people. I was not allowed to begin classes before I complete the outstanding debt of shs.500 which was deducted on the spot of that school term. Since I was aware that nobody could add on more, I thought of going to work for any one in towns to raise money. I went to the capital city Kampala. In Kampala I faced new pressing challenges – hunger, health, risks exploitation, life threatening realities and hopelessness. I took the train back home to Kasese in March 1980. Loudly wailing all long from Kampala, one Good Samaritan comforted and reassured me to regain my consciousness. In the process, I developed a plan to seek for the support of the Bishop. Following several days of patience, I managed to explain my situation to the Bishop Sipriano Magambo of Fort portal Diocese. He offered to pay for my fees from senior two 1980 to senior four 1982.

    Negative Peer Influences
    My innocence, humbleness and young age, in addition to a family background associated with poverty, ill-health and neglect, led me to joining a group of students from well-off families. They would encourage me to sneak out of school campus and buy for them meat, sugar- canes, mangoes and other eatables that were not allowed at the school. This group would further send me to link them with their girlfriends and boyfriends, be in or out of the school. This cost me heavily. I got bad recommendation from the head teacher, and therefore could no long be supported by the Bishop who was being represented by the parish Priest Rev. Fr. Balinandi Kambale.

    Work Experiences
    In February, 1983, I started working as licensed teacher at Munkunyu Primary School. At this school I was earning shs.700 monthly. This money could not be enough for meeting my personal basic needs. I hated the work. Although I continued teaching, I thought of raising money to take me back to school. This situation required that to achieve the goal of further education, I had to supplement the earnings with trade. I started smuggling coffee across the border to the then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) with the help of the school dropouts in my village. This type of trade became very risky in 1985 due to the Kabila Rebel Activities there. I therefore decided to go back to school using the little savings accumulated from teaching and trading. I went to Mutanywana Secondary School for Senior Five; soon I was out of money for completing the class and therefore had to go back to illegal trading from Kampala to Congo.

    Detainment
    Although I had seen how dangerous and risky the illegal trade across Uganda – Congo (then Zaire) was, there was no alternative since poverty, diseases and ignorance was biting deeply. I joined the group of illegal traders taking coffee, petroleum products, watches, radios, clothes and live animals from Uganda to Congo. We would buy pharmaceuticals, rice, palm cooking oil and soap from Congo to Uganda. I thought I had made good money to the tune of 7.5 million Shillings from December 1985 – November 1986; but, I was not contented with life without education. Part of this money; I deposited Shs. 0.2m in Centenary Bank (then CERUDET) account no. 3:600 and bought 1000 shares in the same bank (Receipt No. FP 0028).

    Unfortunately, March 1987 I crossed as usual to Congo, carrying one dozen of Azaro shirts, 3 Panasonic radios and 4 dozen disco digital watches; valued at Shs. 2.8 million. I fell into ambush Congolese troops searching for the rebels believed to have bases on the slopes of mount Rwenzori on Ugandan side. I was taken into captivity, seriously tortured, forced into combat and detained without trial up to November 1988. I today imagine, if the suffering in hell is like what I experienced in the Congo captivity, every person must pray hard never to go there.

    Lay Apostolate Youth Animation
    During captivity under forced combat, I was taken to the frontline in search for the rebels believed to have been led by late Laurent Kabila. In this circumstance I managed to escape, spent two weeks lost in the mountain forests of the Rwenzori. While only feeding on wild fruits, braving the cold without cover, once bitten by a snake and risking to be destroyed by leopards, rebels or even the government troops, I managed to find my way out back to Uganda.

    On eventually reaching home 14th December 1988, my family members and neighbours welcomed me with tears of love and astonishment flowing profusely. At that time, I was looking more like a wild animal, fearing people and most of the people I met, would fear me. Very soon, a welcoming mass was arranged at our home, and was ministered by the then Parish Priest of Nzenyi Catholic Parish. I was asked to talk briefly about what experiences I went through, why and how I was caught in Zaire. This was not possible at that moment. I only asked the priest to allow me work with the youth, guiding them through development activities of self reliance so as never to experience what I had gone through.

    I was recruited to join the Diocesan Youth Apostolate Animation Council through which, with the experience of having been: a member of the Red Cross Outreach Volunteers, since 1972,a member of Scouts Movement at Katsungiro Primary School in 1973 and, a member of the Xaverian Movement since 1974, I benefited from relevant training programmes. As youth animators of Katsungiro sub-parish, we established a Youth Training Centre at Kinyamaseke Trading Centre, which has been currently developed into a powerful secondary school institution, Holy Dove Secondary School, in Kasese District. Following my election as the Secretary for Youth Local Council Three of Munkunyu Sub-county, I mobilized the youthful communities, in collaboration with other politicians to establish Munkunyu Secondary School, Kabingo Health Centre, YMCA Vocational Institute and seriously worked the mitigate the injurious effects of the Allied Democratic Force (ADF) insurgency in Kasese.

    The RADS Youth Animation Club
    With the background of having been a victim of poverty, ignorance, diseases, neglect and exploitation, it did not take me long to use the opportunity of being guided by the Catholic Youth Animation’s YES (Youth Encounter the Savior) programme. I initiated and led the RADS (Rural Areas Development Services) club whose major purpose was to promote agriculture, Education, Health Trade and Relief services among and with the young people themselves. With the guidance of the Catholic Youth Secretariat, under the leadership of late Fr. Sera and Mr. John Mwidu, RADS established Munkunyu Youth Training Centre (MYTC) in 1990 offering carpentry, bricklaying, tailoring, family and health education to benefit the surrounding youthful communities. It is from this MYTC that, Holy Dove Secondary School, now days very popular in Diocese of Kasese, was born.

    Facing Hurtful Challenges in Politics
    Far from my interests, I was elected as a Secretary for Youth LC III Munkunyu Sub-county in 1991. Under this position, I faced a number of challenges: the youth expected me to link them to sponsored education programmes, employment, and business start up finances, political favours and recognition. In addition, politicians with different ideologies would attempt to use me and my youthful reputation in selling their political agendas. I would be forced to unjustly treat people seeking for justice. Corruption suggestions to which I could not comply, led me to abandon politics, especially when some prominent politicians started attempting to force me take sides with other politicians.

    The Humanitarian Concepts
    Having joined the Red Cross Society in 1972, I was recognized while studying at Saad Memorial Senior Secondary School in Senior Three 1981, and I was thus introduced to various training programmes especially in the Dissemination of Red Cross Society Principles through drama performances. I was trained in Red Cross Standard First Aid Course in 1982 and qualified as a First Aid Trainer in 1983. Active participation in Red Cross Programmes from then has strengthened the humanitarian spirit instilled into my life through the Catholic Church’s Social Teachings and the concepts of oneness, fear of God, respect for life and truthfulness, especially as illustrated by the Xaverian Movement. The humanitarian concepts of the Red Cross Family, as stipulated by its Fundamental Principles, in addition to the Catholic Social Teachings, I have been shaped to give respect to humanity without discrimination of any kind. Through several Red Cross supported training programmes, especially Volunteer Management, First Aid, Blood Donation, Youth Empowerment, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Community Service and International Youth Exchange, I have been enabled to develop leadership skills, which I am now using to give guidance to several women and children’s as well as specialized groups of communities. I am mainly devoted to reaching out in support for the most vulnerable poor communities, especially; children at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation; child mothers, the elderly and people with disabilities; and the prisoners as well as people who have been denied their rights due to HIV/AIDS infection, Corona virus, Ebola Cancer and other chronic illnesses, irrespective of religious affiliations, political ideologies, gender, geographical location or economic status as well as other social, economic, political or cultural differences.

    Life Re-organization
    From ever since I frequently dropped out of formal education path, my zeal to attain at least a bachelors’ degree has never been effaced. Hampered by the process of marriage in 2001, unaffordable number of 8 biological children and several dependants, unreliable source of financial income and limited guidance, I could not be able to go back to school. The active services I offered to the Uganda Red Cross Society as a full time volunteer since 1982 when I was elected as the Kasese Branch’s Red Cross Chairman Munkunyu Sub-county, and to the communities that depend to the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Kasese could hardly yield me sufficient fruits for educational support. While worriedly working at a Community Health Centre in Kasese Town Council 2009, I came in contact with one, by the name Auma Welcy who was my workmate at that centre. As a cooperative and understanding woman who hails from Northern Uganda, Amuru District she told me about the good life after the LRA war in Acholi land and I was impressed. She reassured me with the hope of achieving my educational dreams. With this encouraging interaction, I right away started thinking of ‘the going back to school’ plans. “Surely I will soon be satisfied once in the Northern part of the Country which has now gained a peaceful environment” I said to myself. I then immediately arranged with her and left Kasese for Gulu on 31st January 2009.

    In Amuru District, where I first settled with my family, three children and wife, I was impressed by the scenery of the place and its possibility for agricultural fruitfulness. I started reorganizing my life with a focus on going back to school as soon as possible. Consultations for schooling possibilities were made in Gulu District, Gulu Municipality where I participated in the “THE RESCUE” event of the Invisible Children Agency, the public prayers for formerly abducted people, the children from captivity event organized by the Concerned Parents Association, and Gulu University Open Day offered me excellent experiences and hopefulness. Since then my passion to join school became even more intolerable and intense.

    Survival Mechanisms
    In Northern Uganda, my first settlement was in the Keyo IDP Camp which was under the process of phase-out at that time. Food was scarce and the camp’s sanitation was very poor at that time. I developed the plan to move to the urban area for possibilities of charging the phone, scavenging on rubbish heaps for waste food and finding manual work for financial incomes. From 15th March I lived on the streets of Gulu Municipality where I could charge the phone at the Referral Hospital while collecting metallic scraps and plastic pieces for sale, and food waste to feed on. Life went on like that and my family joined me to settle in Obia East near Lacor Hospital. This hard life continued like that until we had the first small harvest from where I and my wife had cultivated a small portion of sweat potatoes, beans and maize, followed by cassava. By February 2010 we had got used to the new way of life and had two of the children in school.

    Going Back to School
    As the year 2010 went by, I realized I can go to school with little hindrances, I first thought of registering for Senior Four (Uganda Certificate of Education) but I was asked to produce the PLE certificate which I did not have. This forced me seek to first study and pass P.L.E before joining a technical school. The Kind head teacher of Kasubi Army Primary School led and introduced me to the ECHO BRAVO! Catch up Education Programme (CEP) where I was accepted to register for PLE. At this school, the CEP suited my expectations and every person as a learner, irrespective of age or any type of back ground was contented with the setup of the teaching environment. The competition to excel in PLE was very stiff especially between the CEP beneficiary learners and the formal primary school candidates. I was made to lead the group of committed learners guiding them to revise seriously. I managed to pass the 2011 PLE in first grade with 10 aggregates.

    New challenges
    While I was planning to join a technical institute that offer agricultural training, I got challenged by the prevailing standards and I thus opted to joining and registering for Online Educational Training Programme at BOSCO UGANDA Centre, for Education and Research in Gulu Municipality in May 2012. Even here, I had the task of meeting school fees bills for the four of my children in school, I felt like unable to be a full-time student. I felt that the collection of metal and plastic scraps as well as waste food resources needed not continue to be part of the main sources of livelihood on which I and my family depended. And in addition, I developed a plan of practicing agro-forestry and extensive farming in both urban and rural environments, which cannot be fulfilled while in full time education programme.

    The Ambitious Plans
    Ambitiously, I nurtured the plans of developing networking mechanisms focused on collaboratively promoting sustainable socio-economic and environment opportunities among the vulnerable young people, especially women in Uganda and the world at large. I planed then to achieve this through joining hands with other visionary and professional individuals, institutions and companies that focus on promoting social, economic, cultural, and political and human rights of people made vulnerable by disastrous situations. In these ambitions plans, the guidance and recommendations of the Catholic Church through respective Diocesan Leadership at Chapel and Parish levels shall highly be given great respect I thought.

    Appeal
    This profile document titled as above “LIBOLIO’S ‘SURVIVING’ PROFILE” has been prepared basing on the focused ambition to rescue the vulnerable poor people, especially the youth from pressing uncertainties associated with poverty, ignorance, and disease, and deteriorating environments. The word, ‘surviving’, herein is developed from the commitment focus phrase “Strategic Undertakings to Rescue the Vulnerable by Investing in Vocational-skillfulness and Networking with Generosity”. Therefore, this document serves to communicate the appeal for more information as required for networking, supporting and linking the vulnerable individuals to information sharing opportunities for the benefit of enhancing individualized and community vocational services. There is indeed need to support necessitous people with generosity to access information guidance opportunities that can be of good use for life transformation in the fields of agriculture, the environment, education, trade and relief services. The vulnerable poor require accelerated access to the use of modern information communication technologies (ICT) and to pave their way out of the vulnerability, a situation they cannot overcome sustainably without appropriate support and guidance.

    Conclusion
    In general terms therefore, this “LIBOLIO’s ‘SURVIVING’ PROFILE” is intended to illustrate an example a vulnerable poor Ugandan’s life of struggles to achieve development skills necessary for transformation from school to career. The profile has been developed with an intention to call upon generous, focused and compassionate individuals, institutions, companies and government programmes to ably provide poor communities made vulnerable by different catastrophic situations with the basic necessities, supportive concepts and information appropriate for strategic life skills planning. By promoting holistic approaches to rescuing individuals from livelihoods of vulnerability to the development of skills focused on their interests, the vulnerable poor will then be enabled to develop individualized resourceful programmes that will lift them out of the poverty, excruciations and ignorance pit.

    I shall be very grateful to learn that, you as individuals and agencies are willingly ready help the vulnerable poor with relevant research and exploration programmes as well as relevant information for use in this development especially in the education field. I wish to ask for related information resources about occupations, career planning, counseling, training, and appropriate financial support.
    Thank you very much, in advance for your positive response towards this profile. For more information, contact me at ; Tel: +256(o)775442576
    Kithaghenda Muhindo ArborLibolio 5th May, 2021

    Like

  • Otim Libolio Kithaghenda Muhindo Arbor

    LIBOLIO’S “SURVIVING” PROFILE

    Biography
    Born on 28th December 1965, I am the third born to the family of Modesto Ntambireki and Kabugho Catherina. I was born in a village called Muyina on the slopes of Rwenzori Mountains, Kasese District Uganda. My tribe is referred to as Bakonzo one of the largest Bantu ethnic groups living around Rwenzori ranges to Congo Basin.

    Religion
    I grew up adhering to the catholic faith as practiced by my parents. Baptized in infancy, I underwent catechumen instructors from which I was inspired and wished to become a catholic priest. I got registered to join seminary but due to financial and health difficulties in my family, I could not attain my ambition.

    Family life
    Having served as Rwenzururu fighter under the ethnic clashes between fhe Batoro and Bakonzo tribes that was intensified from 1962 following the Uganda independence and multiparty elections, my father Modesto survived death but was permanently disabled both mentally and physically. He in addition suffered political harassment, detentions and torture. As a result, he could not effectively care for the family.Without basic necessities such as health care, the family lost 7 (seven) children to preventable diseases – cholera, malaria and diarrhea. Schooling became almost impossible. And as children became severely burdened by poverty and neglect, the surviving rest of us children became prone to rights violation such as child labour, verbal abuses, denial of food and copal punishments by extended family members and neighbours.

    Education
    I joined primary one at the age of 6 in 1972 at Katsungiro primary school. One kind neighbour offered to meet my scholastic requirements up to primary five 1976. As a farmer, this kind neighbour (Mr. Kinda Jonathan Rukara) paid all school fees until his own children and relatives joined secondary school. Being well disciplined, hard working and social, the Headmaster then, Mr Stephen Maathe Madebe, with the approval of the school management sponsored my studies from primary six to seven.

    Trouble happened when I performed well in the 1978 PLE (Primary Leaving Examination) with upper second grade; I was admitted at Saad Memorial Senior Secondary School, then the only institution at that level in Kasese District. Although only 9 kilometers away from home, where I could even walk daily, it was not possible to get one who would willingly pay for the school fees. I tried illegal cross-border trade to Congo ferrying coffee and saved some money barely enough to enable me start the secondary education in the second term of 1979. Soon I ran out of money for the third term. This resulted into being chased away from school every now and then. The year ended when I had only managed to pay 800 shilling out of fee required 1300 shillings.

    For the second year, I had managed to raise shillings 600 shillings from the trade and borrowing from kind people. I was not allowed to begin classes before I complete the outstanding debt of shs.500 which was deducted on the spot of that school term. Since I was aware that nobody could add on more, I thought of going to work for any one in towns to raise money. I went to the capital city Kampala. In Kampala I faced new pressing challenges – hunger, health, risks exploitation, life threatening realities and hopelessness. I took the train back home to Kasese in March 1980. Loudly wailing all long from Kampala, one Good Samaritan comforted and reassured me to regain my consciousness. In the process, I developed a plan to seek for the support of the Bishop. Following several days of patience, I managed to explain my situation to the Bishop Sipriano Magambo of Fort portal Diocese. He offered to pay for my fees from senior two 1980 to senior four 1982.

    Negative Peer Influences
    My innocence, humbleness and young age, in addition to a family background associated with poverty, ill-health and neglect, led me to joining a group of students from well-off families. They would encourage me to sneak out of school campus and buy for them meat, sugar- canes, mangoes and other eatables that were not allowed at the school. This group would further send me to link them with their girlfriends and boyfriends, be in or out of the school. This cost me heavily. I got bad recommendation from the head teacher, and therefore could no long be supported by the Bishop who was being represented by the parish Priest Rev. Fr. Balinandi Kambale.

    Work Experiences
    In February, 1983, I started working as licensed teacher at Munkunyu Primary School. At this school I was earning shs.700 monthly. This money could not be enough for meeting my personal basic needs. I hated the work. Although I continued teaching, I thought of raising money to take me back to school. This situation required that to achieve the goal of further education, I had to supplement the earnings with trade. I started smuggling coffee across the border to the then Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) with the help of the school dropouts in my village. This type of trade became very risky in 1985 due to the Kabila Rebel Activities there. I therefore decided to go back to school using the little savings accumulated from teaching and trading. I went to Mutanywana Secondary School for Senior Five; soon I was out of money for completing the class and therefore had to go back to illegal trading from Kampala to Congo.

    Detainment
    Although I had seen how dangerous and risky the illegal trade across Uganda – Congo (then Zaire) was, there was no alternative since poverty, diseases and ignorance was biting deeply. I joined the group of illegal traders taking coffee, petroleum products, watches, radios, clothes and live animals from Uganda to Congo. We would buy pharmaceuticals, rice, palm cooking oil and soap from Congo to Uganda. I thought I had made good money to the tune of 7.5 million Shillings from December 1985 – November 1986; but, I was not contented with life without education. Part of this money; I deposited Shs. 0.2m in Centenary Bank (then CERUDET) account no. 3:600 and bought 1000 shares in the same bank (Receipt No. FP 0028).

    Unfortunately, March 1987 I crossed as usual to Congo, carrying one dozen of Azaro shirts, 3 Panasonic radios and 4 dozen disco digital watches; valued at Shs. 2.8 million. I fell into ambush Congolese troops searching for the rebels believed to have bases on the slopes of mount Rwenzori on Ugandan side. I was taken into captivity, seriously tortured, forced into combat and detained without trial up to November 1988. I today imagine, if the suffering in hell is like what I experienced in the Congo captivity, every person must pray hard never to go there.

    Lay Apostolate Youth Animation
    During captivity under forced combat, I was taken to the frontline in search for the rebels believed to have been led by late Laurent Kabila. In this circumstance I managed to escape, spent two weeks lost in the mountain forests of the Rwenzori. While only feeding on wild fruits, braving the cold without cover, once bitten by a snake and risking to be destroyed by leopards, rebels or even the government troops, I managed to find my way out back to Uganda.

    On eventually reaching home 14th December 1988, my family members and neighbours welcomed me with tears of love and astonishment flowing profusely. At that time, I was looking more like a wild animal, fearing people and most of the people I met, would fear me. Very soon, a welcoming mass was arranged at our home, and was ministered by the then Parish Priest of Nzenyi Catholic Parish. I was asked to talk briefly about what experiences I went through, why and how I was caught in Zaire. This was not possible at that moment. I only asked the priest to allow me work with the youth, guiding them through development activities of self reliance so as never to experience what I had gone through.

    I was recruited to join the Diocesan Youth Apostolate Animation Council through which, with the experience of having been: a member of the Red Cross Outreach Volunteers, since 1972,a member of Scouts Movement at Katsungiro Primary School in 1973 and, a member of the Xaverian Movement since 1974, I benefited from relevant training programmes. As youth animators of Katsungiro sub-parish, we established a Youth Training Centre at Kinyamaseke Trading Centre, which has been currently developed into a powerful secondary school institution, Holy Dove Secondary School, in Kasese District. Following my election as the Secretary for Youth Local Council Three of Munkunyu Sub-county, I mobilized the youthful communities, in collaboration with other politicians to establish Munkunyu Secondary School, Kabingo Health Centre, YMCA Vocational Institute and seriously worked the mitigate the injurious effects of the Allied Democratic Force (ADF) insurgency in Kasese.

    The RADS Youth Animation Club
    With the background of having been a victim of poverty, ignorance, diseases, neglect and exploitation, it did not take me long to use the opportunity of being guided by the Catholic Youth Animation’s YES (Youth Encounter the Savior) programme. I initiated and led the RADS (Rural Areas Development Services) club whose major purpose was to promote agriculture, Education, Health Trade and Relief services among and with the young people themselves. With the guidance of the Catholic Youth Secretariat, under the leadership of late Fr. Sera and Mr. John Mwidu, RADS established Munkunyu Youth Training Centre (MYTC) in 1990 offering carpentry, bricklaying, tailoring, family and health education to benefit the surrounding youthful communities. It is from this MYTC that, Holy Dove Secondary School, now days very popular in Diocese of Kasese, was born.

    Facing Hurtful Challenges in Politics
    Far from my interests, I was elected as a Secretary for Youth LC III Munkunyu Sub-county in 1991. Under this position, I faced a number of challenges: the youth expected me to link them to sponsored education programmes, employment, and business start up finances, political favours and recognition. In addition, politicians with different ideologies would attempt to use me and my youthful reputation in selling their political agendas. I would be forced to unjustly treat people seeking for justice. Corruption suggestions to which I could not comply, led me to abandon politics, especially when some prominent politicians started attempting to force me take sides with other politicians.

    The Humanitarian Concepts
    Having joined the Red Cross Society in 1972, I was recognized while studying at Saad Memorial Senior Secondary School in Senior Three 1981, and I was thus introduced to various training programmes especially in the Dissemination of Red Cross Society Principles through drama performances. I was trained in Red Cross Standard First Aid Course in 1982 and qualified as a First Aid Trainer in 1983. Active participation in Red Cross Programmes from then has strengthened the humanitarian spirit instilled into my life through the Catholic Church’s Social Teachings and the concepts of oneness, fear of God, respect for life and truthfulness, especially as illustrated by the Xaverian Movement. The humanitarian concepts of the Red Cross Family, as stipulated by its Fundamental Principles, in addition to the Catholic Social Teachings, I have been shaped to give respect to humanity without discrimination of any kind. Through several Red Cross supported training programmes, especially Volunteer Management, First Aid, Blood Donation, Youth Empowerment, Disaster Preparedness and Response, Community Service and International Youth Exchange, I have been enabled to develop leadership skills, which I am now using to give guidance to several women and children’s as well as specialized groups of communities. I am mainly devoted to reaching out in support for the most vulnerable poor communities, especially; children at risk of abuse, neglect and exploitation; child mothers, the elderly and people with disabilities; and the prisoners as well as people who have been denied their rights due to HIV/AIDS infection, Corona virus, Ebola Cancer and other chronic illnesses, irrespective of religious affiliations, political ideologies, gender, geographical location or economic status as well as other social, economic, political or cultural differences.

    Life Re-organization
    From ever since I frequently dropped out of formal education path, my zeal to attain at least a bachelors’ degree has never been effaced. Hampered by the process of marriage in 2001, unaffordable number of 8 biological children and several dependants, unreliable source of financial income and limited guidance, I could not be able to go back to school. The active services I offered to the Uganda Red Cross Society as a full time volunteer since 1982 when I was elected as the Kasese Branch’s Red Cross Chairman Munkunyu Sub-county, and to the communities that depend to the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Kasese could hardly yield me sufficient fruits for educational support. While worriedly working at a Community Health Centre in Kasese Town Council 2009, I came in contact with one, by the name Auma Welcy who was my workmate at that centre. As a cooperative and understanding woman who hails from Northern Uganda, Amuru District she told me about the good life after the LRA war in Acholi land and I was impressed. She reassured me with the hope of achieving my educational dreams. With this encouraging interaction, I right away started thinking of ‘the going back to school’ plans. “Surely I will soon be satisfied once in the Northern part of the Country which has now gained a peaceful environment” I said to myself. I then immediately arranged with her and left Kasese for Gulu on 31st January 2009.

    In Amuru District, where I first settled with my family, three children and wife, I was impressed by the scenery of the place and its possibility for agricultural fruitfulness. I started reorganizing my life with a focus on going back to school as soon as possible. Consultations for schooling possibilities were made in Gulu District, Gulu Municipality where I participated in the “THE RESCUE” event of the Invisible Children Agency, the public prayers for formerly abducted people, the children from captivity event organized by the Concerned Parents Association, and Gulu University Open Day offered me excellent experiences and hopefulness. Since then my passion to join school became even more intolerable and intense.

    Survival Mechanisms
    In Northern Uganda, my first settlement was in the Keyo IDP Camp which was under the process of phase-out at that time. Food was scarce and the camp’s sanitation was very poor at that time. I developed the plan to move to the urban area for possibilities of charging the phone, scavenging on rubbish heaps for waste food and finding manual work for financial incomes. From 15th March I lived on the streets of Gulu Municipality where I could charge the phone at the Referral Hospital while collecting metallic scraps and plastic pieces for sale, and food waste to feed on. Life went on like that and my family joined me to settle in Obia East near Lacor Hospital. This hard life continued like that until we had the first small harvest from where I and my wife had cultivated a small portion of sweat potatoes, beans and maize, followed by cassava. By February 2010 we had got used to the new way of life and had two of the children in school.

    Going Back to School
    As the year 2010 went by, I realized I can go to school with little hindrances, I first thought of registering for Senior Four (Uganda Certificate of Education) but I was asked to produce the PLE certificate which I did not have. This forced me seek to first study and pass P.L.E before joining a technical school. The Kind head teacher of Kasubi Army Primary School led and introduced me to the ECHO BRAVO! Catch up Education Programme (CEP) where I was accepted to register for PLE. At this school, the CEP suited my expectations and every person as a learner, irrespective of age or any type of back ground was contented with the setup of the teaching environment. The competition to excel in PLE was very stiff especially between the CEP beneficiary learners and the formal primary school candidates. I was made to lead the group of committed learners guiding them to revise seriously. I managed to pass the 2011 PLE in first grade with 10 aggregates.

    New challenges
    While I was planning to join a technical institute that offer agricultural training, I got challenged by the prevailing standards and I thus opted to joining and registering for Online Educational Training Programme at BOSCO UGANDA Centre, for Education and Research in Gulu Municipality in May 2012. Even here, I had the task of meeting school fees bills for the four of my children in school, I felt like unable to be a full-time student. I felt that the collection of metal and plastic scraps as well as waste food resources needed not continue to be part of the main sources of livelihood on which I and my family depended. And in addition, I developed a plan of practicing agro-forestry and extensive farming in both urban and rural environments, which cannot be fulfilled while in full time education programme.

    The Ambitious Plans
    Ambitiously, I nurtured the plans of developing networking mechanisms focused on collaboratively promoting sustainable socio-economic and environment opportunities among the vulnerable young people, especially women in Uganda and the world at large. I planed then to achieve this through joining hands with other visionary and professional individuals, institutions and companies that focus on promoting social, economic, cultural, and political and human rights of people made vulnerable by disastrous situations. In these ambitions plans, the guidance and recommendations of the Catholic Church through respective Diocesan Leadership at Chapel and Parish levels shall highly be given great respect I thought.

    Appeal
    This profile document titled as above “LIBOLIO’S ‘SURVIVING’ PROFILE” has been prepared basing on the focused ambition to rescue the vulnerable poor people, especially the youth from pressing uncertainties associated with poverty, ignorance, and disease, and deteriorating environments. The word, ‘surviving’, herein is developed from the commitment focus phrase “Strategic Undertakings to Rescue the Vulnerable by Investing in Vocational-skillfulness and Networking with Generosity”. Therefore, this document serves to communicate the appeal for more information as required for networking, supporting and linking the vulnerable individuals to information sharing opportunities for the benefit of enhancing individualized and community vocational services. There is indeed need to support necessitous people with generosity to access information guidance opportunities that can be of good use for life transformation in the fields of agriculture, the environment, education, trade and relief services. The vulnerable poor require accelerated access to the use of modern information communication technologies (ICT) and to pave their way out of the vulnerability, a situation they cannot overcome sustainably without appropriate support and guidance.

    Conclusion
    In general terms therefore, this “LIBOLIO’s ‘SURVIVING’ PROFILE” is intended to illustrate an example a vulnerable poor Ugandan’s life of struggles to achieve development skills necessary for transformation from school to career. The profile has been developed with an intention to call upon generous, focused and compassionate individuals, institutions, companies and government programmes to ably provide poor communities made vulnerable by different catastrophic situations with the basic necessities, supportive concepts and information appropriate for strategic life skills planning. By promoting holistic approaches to rescuing individuals from livelihoods of vulnerability to the development of skills focused on their interests, the vulnerable poor will then be enabled to develop individualized resourceful programmes that will lift them out of the poverty, excruciations and ignorance pit.

    I shall be very grateful to learn that, you as individuals and agencies are willingly ready help the vulnerable poor with relevant research and exploration programmes as well as relevant information for use in this development especially in the education field. I wish to ask for related information resources about occupations, career planning, counseling, training, and appropriate financial support.
    Thank you very much, in advance for your positive response towards this profile. For more information, contact me at ; Tel: +256(o)775442576
    Otim Libolio Kithaghenda Muhindo Arbor 12th May, 2021

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