Sarah Adong is 24 years old and a single mother with three children. Currently, she works as a peeler at Adyaka Wholesalers Limited, a cassava flash dryer factory in Apac district. In a day, she earns between 4000 to 5000 Uganda shillings. The factory employs various laborers including 10 women peelers for its day to day operations. “The life changing moment of my life was when I was taken on for this job at the cassava factory. I know my future is brighter now, for I am able to make money.” With this employment, Adong is assured of a daily meal for her and the children. But being young, thrilled at her first job and seeming inexperienced with handling money, Adong has a plan. “I intend to join a community generating income program to guide how I will spend my earnings. I now have responsibilities around food supplies and school fees for my children. And for safety purposes, I also have to save up some of my earnings for emergencies that could arise.”
She feels rather relieved that she is not yet tied down by demands for school dues. Her eldest child is in primary one, the second is in baby class and the youngest is still at the breast. “Fees is not yet as demanding because my children are still quite young. This gives me the opportunity to plan accordingly and save up as much as I can for their tuition and scholastic materials.” Says a smiling Adong. Aside from her responsibilities, Adong has even much bigger plans. “My dream is to one day own a business of my own and become an influential woman in society. This clever idea (being in a group) provides me with hope.” She says.
Born in Lira district, Adong is the second last of 6 siblings. Due to poverty and its related challenges, she was forced to leave their birth home 3 years ago in search of a job to live better. That is how she ended up in Apac district. Her life in Apac was also however challenging, and being a single mother with no assured income to survive on, her dreams seemed hopeless for sometime. But now, employed and earning, many of her dreams are coming to life including that of looking after her younger sister. “Growing up as orphans was very challenging especially for me and my two sisters. We were under our elder step brothers and life was not smooth. When I got to 21, I moved out of home to try and make a living. It was however hard leaving my little sister (our last born) behind. Now that I have a job, I plan to bring her here and help her get a job as well.” She adds “I know that by the end of the year, I will have saved up enough money to and go get my little sister and give her hope in the future she seems to have given up on.”
Adong’s story is one relatable to many youths in Uganda out there that are faced with life’s challenges and are looking for a better life through employment. For Adong, her dreams are coming to life, thanks to the Cassava Adding Value for Africa Phase Two (CAVA II) Project that has extended such opportunities to the youth and other people through beneficial community projects. The CAVA II Project facilitated the successful installation of the two cassava factories of Windwood Millers Limited and Adyaka Wholesalers Limited in Lira and Apac districts respectively. Each factory needs about 16 tons of Fresh Cassava Root (FCR) per shift which is dried into 4 tons of High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) per shift.
CAVA II is implemented in five African Countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) through the Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich, (NRI). Specifically, in Uganda, CAVA II aims to create by 2019 an annual demand for 69,030 tons of FCR from smallholder farmers and incomes from sale of fresh roots and processing by smallholders who will generate at least USD 4.5 Million/ annum for rural communities.