Eron Namwebya, Uganda
Eron Namwebya (40) is a polio survivor, but has difficulty walking as a result of the virus. Because of her disability, she was not able to complete school. She left an abusive marriage and is now a single mother to five children.
After leaving her husband, Eron returned to live with her parents but was ridiculed for having a failed marriage as well as a disability. She says, "I would hear them say: 'What can a cripple do? You see, she even failed in marriage! What else can't she manage? Just sit there and eat.' That hurt and I would want to earth to open and swallow me up."
Eron joined the Ripple Effect Agriculture for Women and Girls with Disabilities Project (AWDA.) This project trains women and girls with a disability, like Eron, in sustainable agriculture, as well as human rights and leadership skills.
Eron says, "Through this project our farm yields have been very exciting. On my small piece of land I grow various vegetables. I received specialised training in sustainable, organic agriculture as a peer farmer trainer. I teach fellow women and girls with disabilities better farming techniques.
"Now wherever I pass, they call me 'musomesa Eron' (teacher Eron.) I feel really respected. Even the people that used to say bad words about me have changed."
Eron has also been learning about saving schemes; "We used to hear about saving and we thought it was for able bodied people. But Ripple Effect said we could do that too - now we have a very good savings group."
“We are strong minded women, visionaries, we can do it!”
Eron recently shared her story of transformation on a local radio station. She said, "What an able bodied person can do, so can I. I am educating my children and all of them are in school from my own toil."
Eron is extremely ambitious. When our extension staff visit her she never misses an opportunity to ask questions about how she can improve her farm. She says, "Men fear me now - I am a woman with money! I was vulnerable but not now. I have proved I can make use of the land - before everyone use to think because I am disabled I can't do anything. I want to prove we can earn big money and do big things."
Eron has big plans for the future;
“We have plans as a group to rear pigs. Pigs eat cassava - people pay little for cassava but we can rear piglets for two weeks and earn 60,000 USh (£11.60.) We are strong minded women, visionaries, we can do it! Thank you to the Ripple Effect staff who love us, teach us and have shown us that they care. We have now moved to a point of celebration.”