The last time I asked someone about their financial status was in 2021, we were both having a meal at Cafe Javas and when our bill came, we had spent more than we had planned, so we contributed half of the bill each, looked at each other and in one go shook our heads. She then said, “are you not tipping the waiter?” and instead of answering I posed another question, “are you poor?” We both instantly made a loud laugh pulling unwarranted attention to ourselves and for those who no cafe Javas you are probably wondering how many pairs of eyes were looking at us in disgust and confusion. Yes, they all were.
That conversation ended with us calculating our poverty levels, we each divided the total of our monthly income by thirty days, and yeah, there we were with income less than 1.25 dollars a day.
So here were two poor ladies having an expensive meal in a high-end restaurant, the idea sounded ridiculous at the instance of realising how much we had just spent on a single meal.
While it took me and my friend a meal at cafe javas to realize that we were living below the poverty line, the people in rural communities consider living below the poverty line a sad but true reality. They were born into it, grew up into it, and have married and formed families with those realities. The situation is even worse in Northern Uganda which is still recovering from the 20-year Lords Resistance Army war.
Just this year 2020 in June and July, Otuke district was declared to have no food and its people were starving. To make matters worse, government officials cleared rice planted in wetlands in the disguise of implementing a presidential directive.
I guess you are thinking, “they should not have planted in the wetland” yes, you are right, they should not. But what would a community that in two consecutive years suffered a dry spell and twice in their history suffered the scourge of war do?
They are already living in poverty so when the scorching sun heats and crop yield goes down, the poor do not have the luxury to enjoy a meal bought from the market, they did not grow up calculating money like I and my friend at Cafe javas, rather their wealth were measured in the size of the cassava, rice, corn, and sweet potato gardens and the absence or destruction of these crops is the beginning of the end for many families.
So because we know how their wealth is measured, my hope is to restore the forest cover, restore the rain pattern and improve crop yield.
For if this is how the people in the countryside experience poverty, then we should get them out of it using their very own resources.
It could be through providing irrigation equipment, donating tree seedlings, funding our sensitization campaign, or simply donating your cafe javas or MacDonald meal fee to support our community engagements.
It doesn’t have to be much, it just has to count.