“I dreamt of sleeping in a dry house”

by James Tayler












Cross-posted from the Actogether Uganda blog


By Lutwama Muhammed, Actogether Uganda

Katana Goretti , 35, lives about three miles from Kampala City Center with her family. While juggling several seasonal and short-term small businesses, Katana faced domestic violence at home. She alone provided for her five children. It was difficult. Her business required her to spend most of her time away from home and unable to care properly for them. Katana said, “I never felt alive at that time, although I could breathe and walk. I had no confidence in myself.”

In 2007, ACTogether and members of the Uganda Slum Dwellers Federation mobilized and sensitized residents in her settlement about savings and working together to solve their problems. She helped form a savings group and was elected as both the secretary and the collector. She participated actively and worked tirelessly to balance these new roles with her business and household responsibilities. “I started dreaming of sleeping in a dry house.  I was tired of sleeping in water and the children fell sick all the time,” she said. 


Using her savings, Katana bought 4 bags of cement and presented them to her husband, demanding that the family build another house. “That shocked me a lot, but somehow we pulled it together and started construction,” said James. He used his carpentry and masonry skills to provide most of the labour for the construction.


“Participation in federation activities has changed a lot of things in my life. The first time my husband, James, saw the importance of saving was when he did not have money for school fees. I just withdrew money from my savings and paid the school fees.” James agreed to join the federation and start saving too.


The family is now united, sharing problems, joys and responsibilities. Katana runs a small business in Owino, the biggest market in Kampala City. She plans to seek training in business skills and management to improve her current business as well as explore new opportunities. 


In addition to saving, some training on rights and responsibilities, problem solving, and leadership skills was provided by the federation. The settlement she lived in was threatened with eviction and Katana actively mobilized the community to come together as a ‘single voice’ and demand Government protection from eviction. With support from LWF and ACTogether, the eviction was stopped.


Thanks to daily saving, the family has abandoned their old flood damaged house. Katana’s dream of sleeping in a dry house is becoming a reality. A wheelbarrow of cement, sand and bricks welcome you at the new three-roomed house being constructed with the savings of Katana and James. The raised foundation of the new house will help to keep them dry during times of flooding, protecting them from sickness and disease.