Mid-twenties refugee caregiver of 7 children succeeds in business in refugee settlement
Back home in Yei South Sudan Hakim Samuel moved people and goods from one place to another on his motorcycle, a service commonly known across countries in East Africa as boda-boda, to earn some money to meet the needs of his family of nine. His wife and their children now aged nine, six and four years and 4 other children of his deceased brother aged seventeen, fifteen, twelve and nine years, lived with him in a small place in Yei, a medium-sized town in South Sudan’s southwest, close to the borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The continued conflict in Yei forced him and his family to leave their home in 2017 in search of a peaceful place to make a life.
On his motorcycle they carried a few of their belongings and headed for safety in Uganda. Eventually, him and his family were settled in Omugo refugee settlement, an area within the larger Rhino refugee camp in Arua District in northwestern Uganda. Like most new arrivals to such refugee settlements they relied on humanitarian organizations operating in the area to get decent shelter, clean water, food, health and protection. As they gradually settled down in their new home Hakim decided to try out boda-boda service in the area to earn some money to cater for more needs of his large family.
Sadly, the venture didn’t bring in as much money as he needed to adequately deal with daily responsibilities. Aside from the fuel and repair costs he could only provide service to the people within the boundaries of the refugee settlements, limiting opportunity to make more money. Despite the setbacks the mid-twenties caregiver of 7 children summed up what enabled him to overcome the obstacles, “At some point I realized that there was no other way to make money and the only way for me to get ahead was to use the skills that God gave me”.
As he was thinking about ways to deal with the challenges, he heard about a business training opportunity one day over the local radio and decided to give it a try. The opportunity was part of interventions aimed at increasing access to quality skills development through training, scholarships, entrepreneurial skills and start-up kits for refugees and host communities. Enabel and AAH Uganda implemented the interventions in Adjumani, Arua, Kiryandongo, and Yumbe Districts in coordination with the Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES).
Hakim was among the beneficiaries selected for the intervention, and it turned out to be the break that he had been looking for. Through the training Hakim learnt how to wire various electric circuits, weld components on interconnect circuit boards, assemble and disassemble mobile phones, as well as the business skill necessary to run a small business. After completing training, he was able to get temporary work repairing security lights at facilities run by humanitarian organizations in the area, as he built his experience.
Back home in Yei Hakim had sublet a small space at his place to a phone repairer and got to observe the demand for the service. So, when this opportunity came up he was able to quickly pick it as the next best way for him to earn a living. Seeing no growth in earnings from boda-boda he sold off the motorcycle and invested the money in a small repair shop at a market center inside the refugee settlement. The programme allocated him a start-up kit with a set of screw-drivers, soldering tools, and solar powering equipment to get him started. He is now able to earn some money that at least enables him cater to some needs of his family. Although he has trouble finding spare parts for repairing his customers phones, he remains delighted with the positive change of his situation, “God provides for the things you ask for however small, it’s a blessing, I’m grateful for it.”
The European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF) established the Support Programme for Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda (SPRS-NU) to specifically address the roots of destabilization, forced displacement and irregular migration, by promoting economic and equal opportunities, security and development. The project is aligned to SDG number 2 which supports interventions in food and incomes security targeting the most vulnerable individuals and groups.