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Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) soft loans empower single mother to educate her children to University level

Jackie (pseudonym), a forty-year-old single mother in Tororo District faced the challenge of ensuring that her four children attained quality education.

For over four years, Jackie tolerated violence from her husband as she faced the dilemma of leaving her abusive marriage to protect herself or enduring the hardships for the children’s sake.

“I thought, how I would support the children if I left my abusive husband, and the only option was to stay for as long as the children were getting some provision and pray to God that the abuse stopped,” Jackie reminisced.

However, financial support for the children’s education became increasingly scarce, leading to periods where her children were sent home from school due to unpaid fees.

Norah in her savings group

“They would be sent back for school fees all the time and would spend weeks, sometimes months and one time they sat home for a whole term”, Jackie recounted.

One day the husband just packed and abandoned Jackie with the children. Determined to provide for her family, Jackie took on casual jobs like tilling gardens but struggled to make ends meet. Her eldest child was in senior two and school fees was a ‘thorn in the flesh’ for a mother who had just started working and with an unstable income. This pushed her into a cycle of depression and desperation.

A glimmer of hope emerged when the USAID-funded Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) North East Activity revived the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) in her village. Jackie joined the Nyamilira VSLA, which became a lifeline for her and her children. Through the VSLA, she started saving and accessing soft loans, which she used to pay her children’s school fees in advance and repay the loans gradually.

The loans from the VSLA enabled Jackie to keep her children in school without interruptions. She also ventured into an Income Generating Activity (IGA) selling food and vegetables, further stabilizing her financial situation. With the support of the VSLA, Jackie’s eldest child has now entered university, and she is optimistic about meeting the tuition fees and changing their lives for the better.

Jackie’s story highlights the transformative impact of VSLA soft loans in empowering single mothers like her to provide education and stability for their children.

Agnes Tumuheire

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