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From a boy earning peanuts in the field to a man earning decent income from energy stoves

At just the tender age of 16 while in his senior three, Kennedy Muhwezi’s father decided that he was going to stop paying for his son’s school fees. The reason? Apparently, his son had studied enough.

“Some people from the older generation like my father never went to school, so he never really saw the value of education. He did not see the need to study”, he says.

“He always said that so many people back in the day made it without ever stepping into a classroom, so he never saw the use. Coming from a family of ten also did not help matters. When he felt that he could no longer finance my education, my father decided to pull me without any hesitation.”

Kennedy dropped out of school back in 2013. For the years that followed, he tried his best to remain active in work so that he could earn a living. “I was due to turn 18 after I dropped out. As you know, when you turn 18 you are considered an adult. A man. So, you must fend for yourself. The best alternative I could think of at that time was to start farming. I started growing crops and selling them for a little income so that I could stand on my own two feet.”

Light at the end of the tunnel

In 2020, Kennedy was listening to the radio when he heard about UWESO’s (Uganda Women’s Effort to Save Orphans) interventions and how they were impacting the lives of so many people in his community. He picked up interest in that story and decided to follow up. He approached his community leader who pointed him in the direction of the organization.

For three months, Kennedy was trained on how to make energy saving stoves, a job that he earns a living from today. “I put my heart into it and so far, I cannot complain. I can comfortably say it has paid off quite well. From this business, I have been able to buy a smartphone that I use for my day-to-day operations. Since I do not have established premises, I circulated my contact around the community. Whoever needs a stove built in their kitchen around here knows that I am the person to call. I have also been able to purchase livestock. I have six goats and five pigs so far and hope to acquire more. All this is thanks to my stove making business.”

When asked about the benefits of using these stoves for cooking, Kennedy is quick to mention as many as he can, citing that they are the best option for the people in the villages.

“This stove does not need a lot of firewood to get lit. That means it eases the burden on the children that are usually tasked to do the chore of splitting it. It is also environmentally friendly. Just one small tree alone can last a full week, cooking both day and night”, he says. “The meals prepared from this stove also get ready very quickly. It also does not produce a lot of soot and neither does the ash. All in all, it is user friendly.”

Building a brighter future through hard work

Kennedy, now a 27-year-old, believes time is on his side and hopes to use the best of his youth to build a brighter future for himself.

“I am still a young man with a lot of energy. UWESO gave me a starting point from where I can earn and so I hope to build on it. The organization has done a lot for the youth like myself so that we can disassociate ourselves from crime. I hope to start another business so that I can become a financially independent man.”