Ruth Nabirye at her home

When Ruth Nabirye refused to marry her deceased husband’s brother, she was
chased away from the matrimonial home. Little did she know that it was
just the beginning of her suffering.

“My husband died and left me with a son. I was told to get married to
my brother-in-law and when I refused I was ill-treated,” Nabirye,
63, a widow said.

She said although she had other seven children from the first
marriage, she was forced to get married to her deceased husband’s
brother to keep the clan’s norms.

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“When I refused, I was told to leave. I was not given any of my late
husband’s property. I remember the family meeting resolved not to give
me any share because I had violated the cultural norms,” Nabirye said.

She said: “I had worked with my husband and we had accumulated some
wealth but I painfully left everything and wandered.”

She left Magoola village and moved to Busoga South forest reserve in
Malongo Sub-County where she earned a living by doing casual garden
work for people.

“In the forest, life was tough, we slept in a makeshift filthy house
made of polythene bags,” Nabirye said. In 2015, she saved Sh800,000
to buy land. “I saved this from two seasons,” she said.

Ruth Nabirye showing her old house.

Nabirye bought land in Ngayama village in Kityerera Sub-County in
Mayuge district where she’s currently settled.

To her, this was a blessing in disguise. She was filled with
uncertainties of where she will get money for the house construction.

With the help of her grandchildren, she put up a five-iron sheet one
roomed temporary house made of unburnt bricks.

“Life was terrible. The house was very small and we also lacked
beddings. We slept on dry banana leaves and shared a blanket with all
my eight grandchildren,” Nabirye said.

After a few months, Nabirye finally saw light in a tunnel when she was
approached by the area LC1 chairperson to enroll her for Habitat for
Humanity Uganda shelter support project.

Nabirye said a community meeting was convened by officials from
Habitat for Humanity and she was nominated to benefit from the

“I was the happiest. God had finally answered my prayers,” Nabirye
said adding she was only asked to excavate a 30ft pit and also provide
two family helpers to offer unskilled labour to the contractors.

Nabirye said her life changed after she was rescued by the
organization. “Our lives have been transformed. I and my grandchildren
now sleep in a spacious house. We were even blessed with
mattresses and other beddings from sympathizers,” she said.

Efulance Nabirye, another beneficiary said: “I was relieved off water
challenges. I can now harvest safe water using a water tank,”

She said prior to the intervention, they used to collect water from
Lake Victoria and swamps and her children could fall sick after taking
contaminated it.

Nabirye with some of her grand-children.

“I recall the day I almost lost one of my children as a result of taking
contaminated water. I spent a lot of money to treat him,” she said
adding as a widow and a mother of 10, it became expensive for her
raise money to access health services.
She said her husband passed away in 2019 and left her in a one-roomed
dilapidated house. She said “The roof was always affected by the storm
and whenever it could rain, we slept in a flooded place,”

Nabirye said besides providing shelter, the organization has supported
her eldest child to acquire education. She said the son was enrolled
for a tailoring course at Pioneer technical institute in Iganga.

Another beneficiary, Mariam Byobona, 33, a widow and a mother of seven
said “He infected me with HIV/AIDS and died in the shortest time. I
attempted to commit suicide because I imagined how and where I could
raise all the seven children without a home,”

Byobona, a primary seven dropout says they were renting by the time
her husband died. She said being a traditional fisherman, her husband
had not saved any money.

“I had lost hope but I regained life after Habitat for Humanity. I now
have a house and other sanitation health facilities,” Byobona said
adding that her two children’s vocational education has been sponsored
by the organization.

Joshua Namuyondho, the Mayuge district branch programs officer for
Habitat for Humanity Uganda (HFHU) said that the project works towards
ensuring that everyone has a decent place to live. He says the project
helps the vulnerable groups including orphans and vulnerable children
in order to improve their living.

Namuyondho said that HFHU’s intervention includes the provision of shelter
with complete rainwater harvesting tank, ventilated improved
Pit-latrine and a shower stall.

“We have so far constructed over 400 houses benefiting over 2400
Orphans and other vulnerable people in Mayuge district. We have
expanded the social housing program to other two sub-counties of
Buwaya and Bukabooli.

He said that the organization has also supported youth with livelihood
and life skills in order to improve good health conditions.

“To recognize the connection between housing and livelihood security,
we offer support to youth in these households to develop vocational
skill relevant to their local market,” Namuyondho said.

Victoria Kanafu, the Mayuge district Community development officer
commended Habitat for Humanity for helping vulnerable communities.

“They have positively impacted on the lives of the vulnerable members
and this has improved on their health, social and economic status,”
Kanafu said.





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