After her mother died, Esther and her two brothers and five sisters had to drop out of school. The school fees were too expensive for Esther’s father, a farmer, and they needed to take care of each other. Esther was eleven at the time.
Esther married at age 14, hoping to escape her life in Kachumbala, a small village six miles from Namatala. The marriage lasted five years, but when he started beating her she moved herself and four children to Namatala to find work.
In Namatala, life didn’t improve, as it was hard to find work to support her family. Eventually, like many girls in Namatala, Esther married another man, hoping he would be able to support her and her children. He became the father of her two youngest children; however, after the birth of Rose, her youngest, he left her.
Since then, Esther has been a single mother, and the sole provider to her six children. She does not receive help and is not in contact with her former husbands, or her brothers, who became farmers like their father. Occasionally, her sisters will watch her children or share food if Esther is having a hard time making ends meet.
Growing up, Esther’s father was very adamant that his children should not join the Christian church, and when Esther’s sister turned to religion she was forced to leave the house. A missionary took in Esther’s sister and paid for her education. Now she works at Mulago Hospital as a nurse, and lives in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. Esther’s sister is able to care for Esther’s oldest daughter, Christine, and even pay her school fees. This is a blessing for Esther because she cannot afford to support all of her children, and Christine would not be able to attend school otherwise.
Esther is now 30 and does odd jobs to support her family. Often she will “dig.” Digging is a term used by the women to describe farm work, which they will do for local farmers to earn an average of 500 Ugandan Shillings, the equivalent of $.20, per day. It’s understandable that in her words, Esther states “life in Namatala is very hard.”
Esther has dreams for her children to be better off than she is, she wants them to have opportunities that she never had. She dreams that they “will be able to go to higher institutions, but school fees make it hard.”
When asked what Esther would like, she simply states, “I would love to have a TV set and be able watch films with my children.”