Today was my last day out in the field. Where we have been working is not very far from Kampala, however, you wouldn’t know it. It is a beautiful area that appears to be as remote as anywhere else in the country. We worked in the office for a while and I worked on my report and got answers to a few questions related to this project.
There was supposed to be a concert last night on the field where we held the graduation, however the music artist never showed up. Apparently, this turned into a big fight and while the fight was going on, others picked up the sound gear and other equipment and walked away. So during lunch at the eat-in place in the trading centre (village centre), there was some action outside. They had found one of the guilty persons and were harassing them. It was a little daunting to see machine guns being held by the civilian as well as the authorities.
Things settled down and we continued our day. For this afternoon, I went out to one of the FAL class meetings. They have a system in place where each week they bring their savings. It has to be at least 700 shillings (35c). It is placed in a box and everything is recorded. I looked through their records briefly and they are doing well. Mostly they bring in an amount greater than 700/-, sometimes even up to 3000/-. In a similar fashion to micro-finance loans, members of the group are able to borrow from this box with 4 weeks to pay it back with 10% interest.
At the moment, the project is very helpful – someone today took out a 40,000/- loan to buy extra produce for the small business she runs. The maximum you can borrow is 300,000/- which is equivalent to about $150. They said they had just over 430,000/- on the books which means that if someone borrows the 300,000/-, then not many larger loans can be taken out above that. This provides incentive for the debtor to pay the loan back quickly.
I asked them a few questions about how it works and then gave them a little advice from what I have learnt in class back at College. They would do much better in the long run if they used the money to improve the efficiency of their operations, such as buying a wheelbarrow.
It was good to talk to them and see how ADRA has been encouraging different areas of development in the various communities.