Alice is a member of Wanen Anyim (translated “we look forward”) Capable farmers group in Lelabaro village, Uganda. She comes from a large polygamous family. Due to economic hardship, she dropped out after primary school and was married off at the age of 16. The relationship lasted only three years because of physical and emotional abuse, so she returned to her parents’ home. Alice’s elder brothers passed on one after another, including her eldest brother who was her only source of comfort and consolation in the family. These hardships resulted in despair and sense of hopelessness for Alice, so she joined a group of friends who engaged in drinking and became alcoholic. During the civil war in the north of Uganda, she took refuge in the neighboring District of Masindi. There she was known by everyone for her alcoholic behavior and people laughed at her in disbelief, offering her free alcohol in exchange for her antics.
Her family and the community had lost hope in her and did not believe that anything good could come out of her. Despite all this, Alice was a hardworking woman, working in people’s gardens for a small income to support her alcohol dependency.
When Capable arrived in 2018, Alice was selected to benefit as a subsistence farmer, but she was always under the influence during group meetings and didn’t take them seriously. According to Alice, after repeated sessions with counselors and sharing from the word of God, she had a divine conviction and realized her life was not headed in the right direction. Alcohol consumption was affecting her health instead of solving the difficulties she was going through.
Alice realized how her life was wasting away, and made a decision to restore her relationship with God, family members and the community. She joined a local church and became a very active member. When a leadership position opened up in her group, the members trusted Alice and elected her to be the Chairperson. The community gained confidence and developed love for Alice upon seeing the significant change she experienced. Alice now has a vision to pay her son’s school fees, to construct a permanent house, and to strengthen her faith in the Lord by going to church. Today she is sober during training sessions and chairs meetings well. This season, Alice is a proud owner of 6.7 acres of yellow corn and she is working hard to plant more acreage in season two to improve her income. All this change came about as a result of the love shown to Alice instead of rejecting her outright based on her behavior and her sense of hopelessness. She has become an energetic and happy leader, a role model, and a living testimony to many in the community.
Alice’s story is just one of many whose lives have been changed. Vista Hermosa Foundation has been partnering with Capable for the past 3 years on their community-based Graduation Program.
People & Context:
The Acholi people of northern Uganda are a cattle-herding Luo nation. In 1988, Joseph Kony formed the Lord’s Resistance Army, imposing decades of terror throughout the region, abducting children, and forcing 95% of the population into government displacement camps. An entire generation grew up displaced and dependent on aid. Since 2006, people have been returning to the land, with profound needs for training in farming and livelihoods development, social reintegration and reconciliation.
Partner History & Mission:
Capable was founded in 2007 by three men from Spokane, WA, who felt called to provide jobs for women living in the Gulu displacement camps. Capable recognizes that everyone has inherent, God-given potential. The tipping point between poverty and well-being is when people experience a shift in mindset and fully realize they are capable. Capable is entirely Ugandan-led, with more than 20 staff, including counselors, agronomists, and business mentors who equip women and men with the knowledge, resources, and skills necessary to start a business and permanently transition out of poverty.
Summary of the Work
Poverty in Uganda is increasing and ⅔ of those who exit poverty fall back in within a few years (World Bank). Capable has designed a holistic 2-year cohort model for ultra-poor subsistence farmers, called the Capable Graduation Program (CGP). Working with 225 families organized into 15 groups in 5 communities, they seek to show that poverty alleviation is so much more than an economic process and that economic outcomes are interdependent with a wide array of other factors that are often ignored. Communities who have the largest amount of economic success are the same ones that are physically healthy, believe in their capabilities, have developed social safety nets, and realize a high level of gender equality.
Welcoming those who would not qualify for other programs, Capable works to deconstruct stigma and ostracization. As household vision plans are implemented, places that were previously in disarray become organized and clean, impacting better farming techniques and shared community spaces. Clients learn to read and write, make better health decisions, run businesses, and engage in solidarity for the common good.
For more information on this organization please visit www.capable.org.
written by Capable staff