HAIR SALON HOPES
Irene began selling vegetables four years ago. Since then, she has gone to the market in Mbale every morning atround 5 a.m. to the market in Mbale to buy her vegetables wholesale. The early trip can be dangerous, particularly for women, because thieves know the daily buyers carry large enough sums of money to purchase their many vegetables. The risky hour is inevitable however, shopkeepers must get to the market before the vegetables’ prices rises above wholesale for the main portion of the day. Irene buys each cabbage for 300 shillings wholesale and sells them in Namatala for 500 shillings, receiving a 200 shilling profit. Selling her vegetables at a marked up price, Irene uses her profit to feed her family and ensure her children go to school each day. All of her profits go straight back into feeding her family and sending the children to school. Irene lives in a house on her father’s land, and therefore doesn’t have to pay any rent
After selling her vegetables in the morning, Irene visits a hair salon in Namatala to learn how to cut and braid hair. When she earns enough capital, she hopes to open her own hair salon.
MOVE TO NAMATALA
Irene is one of a generation of Ugandans who moved from the outlying rural villages into Mbale, specifically and Namatala, specifically in search of more opportunities for their families. While the villages share the same crowded nature and closely knit communities of Namatala, most families’ primary form of income is through subsistence agriculture. The markets and visions of a more prosperous life remain in
Irene was born in 1983. In 2000, Irene moved to Namatala. Irene’s father visited Namatala for a week at that time as well, but stayed only long enough to purchase a plot of land for Irene to raise her family on. Within the first year, Irene gave birth to her first child, Maureen. Her six children have never known life in the villages.