From a family whose members would count on a thatched roof for protection at night, Josephine Aryemo
is a secondary six drop out who served as a secondary teacher and found satisfaction in offering her service without
need for a reward but driven by her compassion for the youth and farmers. Josephine, is a 28 year old single mother, has a daughter, three brothers and a cousin who count on her for their needs
In September 2013, Josephine joined Mercy Corps for three months as a volunteer. To expand her income, she went out of her comfort zone and started making mandazi and chapattis for sale. Her main customers were Mercy Corps staff, and she would earn a profit of 3,000 UGX (Less than 1 USD) per day, part of which she used to support her
brother’s family with whom she resided.
In December 2013, she learnt of a job vacancy as an Area Coordinator (AC) in Namokora Sub-county,
in a company called Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) which was in partnership with Mercy Corps.
At that particular moment, she knew she did not have the required skills but banked on her previous experience with
the Lutheran World Federation ( LWF ) as a farmer field school facilitator in 2012 , ‘I was desperate for and needed
a job, ” Josephine said with tears in her eyes . She applied to fill the vacancy and was surprised to be invited for an interview in June 2014
Her good fortune continued as she was selected for the post, a title she has to this day.
My life as an AC has been an eye opener for me and enabled me to do more than I thought I could at this age. I get a monthly salary, airtime of 10,000 per month and I reached a point where I can satisfactorily provide for my daughter, and other four dependants without any external support . This wasn’t the case before, even better, I constructed an iron sheet roofed house for my mother in Kitgum town’
In 2015, Josephine started farming on 3.25 acres of land. She plant ed sesame and chili and applied the knowledge and skills of agronomic practice that she passes on to other farmers for both value chains. She harvested about 200 kgs of sesame, sold each kg at 2,000 UGX and earned about 400,000 UGX (119 USD) . From another a quarter acre of chili, she earned 263,000 UGX (78USD).
GADC selected her to be a buying agent, a coveted position from which she earns a commission of approximately 1,800,000 UGX ( 535 USD ) per buying season. She was able to acquire a motorcycle worth 3,600,000 UGX (1 ,071 USD) which to her, is a great achievement to facilitate transport during her coordination and buying work
Her experience as an extension service provider , to Josephine, extension is about understanding your audience
and making them the center of learning.
She believes that involving your audience in role plays and experience sharing sessions facilitates effective transfer of knowledge.
Josephine says she got better at handling field issues. Faced with personal and social challenges during her work, she acknowledges the fact that humans are different with various perceptions. It is her determination and vision that keeps her focused. As a way of giving back to the community and empowering others, she provides employment to other women in her garden and also helps in settling disputes within families.
She realized that women face challenges in access and ownership of land and yet she wishes to own a substantial amount of land so that she can go commercial in her farming, through which she hopes to earn enough to cater for her daughter, mother and her relatives to give them a comfortable life. She dreams of employing more people and to empower women and other members of the community, she recommends public speaking skills to build the capacity of women who have low self -esteem.
Throughout her life, Josephine thinks personal valuation contributes to one’s choices; she also advises people to be empathic. To understand a woman’s story, you need to hear it in her own words; there are many women like Josephine out there, some struggling to make ends meet without much hope in sight while others have found their path and are not yet there. All they may need is an opportunity at what they are good at and some guidance; the key question is; how are development agencies targeting masses and yet enabling individual growth opportunities? This can be the key to changing the world, one woman at a time. –
By Adoch Olivia, TRAIL Program officer.
Mercy Corps Kitgum Field office