The Building Blocks of Life

Uganda – The rain poured down the slanted, tin roof, swirling into a stream headed toward the road. As the rain started to dwindle, Yoko found himself waiting in the sheltered haven of a papaya tree. But that shelter didn’t last long as the weight of worry started to pour into his mind.  The responsibility of having to feed a family of twelve sat on his shoulders as a burden much too heavy to bear.

As a father of ten, Yoko’s options were limited.

Not only did Yoko struggle to feed his large family, but he couldn’t give each of his kids the opportunity to go to school and find a way out of poverty for good. As the family funds dwindled, Yoko could no longer afford their education fees. He looked over at the garden that he had started at the beginning of the year. But one question kept nagging at his mind: “Do I feed the produce to my family, or do I sell the produce to afford the school fees?”

He knew that he couldn’t afford both.

A couple of months later, Yoko tried to pursue a dream to open a retail shop. But when he entered the abandoned shop in the middle of town, he smelled the potent musk of mold. From the corner of his eye, he saw the reflection of broken glass from the window. The space was empty, with the dark shadows flickering on the wall coming from the setting sun.

A few weeks passed, and his dream became a nightmare.

The shop began to consume all of Yoko’s time and money. He couldn’t pay the monthly rent on top of restocking the inventory. He found himself falling into a darker hole of worry. The burden of failing as a father and a provider consumed Yoko.

Then, he saw a bright light.

Just when Yoko had almost lost hope, he was introduced to a Savings for Life (SFL) group through a Bright Hope partner church in Eastern Uganda. SFL groups teach people the value and importance of saving money every week. Each group collectively saves a portion of their earnings, and when a need arises from within the group, they can borrow from the group’s savings and then repay it with interest.

With this program, Yoko began to invest and change his life!

“I promised myself that in a few years, if anyone asked how SFL has transformed people’s lives, I would be among the people with significant and tangible results to show…”

Savings for Life formed the foundation for Yoko’s new life.

Yoko finally had the tools to pursue his dream and provide for his family. As he began to lay bricks to build the walls of his own retail shop, he was also building opportunities for his kids’ future. When he had enough bricks, Yoko accessed a loan from his Savings for Life group, which he used to purchase seven bags of cement. Next, he took out another loan to buy sand and pay for extra construction workers.

Today, Yoko’s retail shop building is finished!

With no more rent and external expenses to pay, Yoko is free to begin saving and providing for his children’s school fees. Along with that, he has enough extra income to increase the size of his garden, which will mean more food and produce to sell at the market!

Yoko shared: “Savings for Life is working for my family. During the 2020 COVID lockdown, they supported me from our social fund savings, and I was able to feed my family. Now I own my building and shop. My children have hope to continue with their studies and a lot more will come. I am grateful to God and everybody for making this possible…”

Yoko has been able to pay off all his loans and has increased his savings with the group. He has also inspired many of the other fathers in his community to connect to and invest in their SFL groups, which has created positive changes in their lives.

Yoko reflected: “I am glad I have become an inspiration to many! This has widened my social circle. I have more constructive male friends than I had before. We share knowledge and help advise each other on both family and economic matters. We are not just a savings group but a group of responsible fathers who have become brothers.”

Yoko and other members of SFL outside his newly constructed retail shop.

If you are interested in learning more about Savings for Life and how you can make a difference, click on the following link.

Saving’s Group

Learn more about Bright Hope’s holistic ministry.

Abi Conway
Abi Conway