Olado John, 28, of Integrated community livelihood care and support Project – CLIP in Amuria District, Eastern Uganda is married with eight family members (two females and six males), including his mother, wife and other orphans.
Before Heifer's intervention, John who is a primary drop out got interested in how best he can sustain his family since the demise of his father, so he decided to attach himself to a metal work and fabrication workshop as an apprentice . He gained skills in metal work and fabrication. He started the workshop in 2012 with the little income he generated from offering his services from the training center and a loan. From this business, he was able to earn $847per year which has helped the family to expand into agricultural production. In 2013, he got exposed to the trainings that were being offered by the HPI project in the area and more particularly the business management skills and since then became a community mobilizer within his locality to gather men and women together to at least start off income generating projects that would help them come out of poverty that had ruined their families.
Cooperative initiator: - Before HPI-U intervention, John had established a metal fabrication workshop which was being managed by himself and sometimes along with his wife. However, his passion was that he desired to see all households joining up the little resources together so that bulk services and support would easily be accessed. John was the “brain” behind the formation and registration of Amuria United Farmers’ Cooperative Society (AMUFaCoS) Limited in 2014, where he is the current chairperson with 440 shareholders (Males: 152, Females 288) with each member contributing. From these little shares, this cooperative has steadily grown and currently now owns a refrigerator, yoghurt making skills and they are dealing in cooling milk for bulk collection, selling and making of yoghurt. The cooperative currently a net worth of investment to a tune of $4,696, which has been generated as a result of many shareholders committing their savings with the cooperative.
As a cooperative chairperson, John has:
- Steered this cooperative as the chairperson alongside other executive committee members since 2014. The group that started with low membership has been transformed into a cooperative and fully acknowledged by the district authorities, now with traditional milk collecting centers to boost up milk marketing, refrigerator to chill the milk and yoghurt production.
- Sensitized communities on safe water awareness. Today most of the communities as a result of John’s effort have been empowered to water harvest and sensitized on the effects of taking un boiled water.
- Participated actively in the training and monitoring of the individual members. As a result a number of different income generating activities e.g. poultry have been adopted by most of the members and this has improved income bases, nutrition improvement amongst the different households. Children especially the girls now also go to school. As a group model leader, John secured support from National Agricultural Advisory Services, a Government program that support model farmers within communities. He was supported with indigenous goats and a Boer buck for cross breeding.
- Hosted several visitors intending to see the positive change the group has caused and learn more from the testimonies and experiences of the supported families. Of recent, the group even hosted the area Member of Parliament and the state minister for livestock and agriculture.
- Enabled improvement of the standard of living among the project households has improved; nutrition and income through consumption of protein rich foods, milk consumption and sale of livestock e.g. poultry and pigs. Improved crop production as a result of use of manure has led to food self-sufficiency. Some farmers are preparing to benefit from the biogas technology being promoted by Heifer International.
- Currently the group initiated collective marketing of milk within different zones. With support from other group leadership members, John initiated the idea of collective milk collection and henceforth a refrigerator was purchased to chill the milk and later secured skills of yorghurt making through linkages with Yoba for Life, a dutch based organization that support farmers in enhancing their skills to make yoghurt. This helps members to have a good bargaining power and eliminate the middleman’s monopoly and better means of earning much from their produce.
Increased decision-making, increased self-esteem and self-confidence - Within his district, John is well known as good mobilizer, an advocate for the vulnerable households and children. He believes that the current situation in Eastern as a result of the continuous domestic violence against women has greatly affected mostly women and children since most of them are left to head the families. This has caused John to mobilize women in the area to voice out their situation. He has mobilized and sensitized communities on HIV/AIDS, psycho-socio counseling of the affected families and encouraged many to go for HIV/AIDS testing to know their sero status.
John and the family have been able to pass on the green gram and ground nut seeds they received from the project to the next beneficiaries. He was also able to pass the knowledge he got from trainings to the neighboring households and this resulted into the formation of another farmer group from within the village. For the above service and contributions to his community we therefore have nominated John Olado for the Heifer Uganda Program Golden Talent Award for FY 2015.