Akello (45) and her husband Odoki were abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army rebels during Joseph Kony’s rebellion in northern Uganda. They were both lucky to escape captivity and met each other in a displaced people’s camp, where they went on to have six children.

When the guns fell silent in 2012, they found their way to the village of Obol. But life was very hard. Akello says:

You see, I had never held a hoe in my adult life while in the camp. We depended on the UN agencies for food. Women used their bodies to survive. Many contracted HIV/Aids. It was a tough life.

In 2014 Akello and her family received two heifers from Send a Cow, and one later calved. They also received early maturing seeds and the harvest was good. They have since passed on the calf and seeds to friends and neighbours.

Diversifying

The prolonged dry spells have not affected Akello. When the rain started, she planted and got a healthy harvest of beans, groundnuts, soya and maize. She sold some and kept some for the tough times ahead. From selling their surplus harvest, she has been able to buy a bicycle, solar lights and a TV.

Akello and her family also grow high value vegetables like cabbages and okra. During the dry season they dug up a water well from which they can water their vegetables. They also have 10 beehives from which they harvest honey.

The future

Akello is a keen member of the village savings and loan scheme. By the end of the year she hopes to save enough to build a house with a iron-sheet roof and lots of bedrooms.  Her land stretches to the main road and she hopes to build rental shops on it in the coming years.

Akello also sold a calf, using the money to send one of her daughters to boarding school. Her eldest daughter, who had to drop out of school due to pregnancy, is now learning to be a tailor.

The family continues to diversify their farm. Akello has planted banana plantains and other fruit trees which she will be able to harvest in the next year or two. Having a range of income streams ensures that if one fails, they have others to fall back on.

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