The bakeries in the village of Ruhiira are not like the bakeries as we commonly know. What makes them different”, you might ask. First of all, the current bakeries produce only 1 product called a Mandazi (a form of fried bread similar to a doughnut). Secondly, they are cooked outdoors over a wood burning fire. Each bakery employs four women. The women get up early in the morning and start preparing the Mandazis. Each woman takes on a task. One of them rolls out the dough, one of them cuts the dough into squares, another lady builds the fire, and the 4th women is in charge of monitoring the frying process until they are cooked to perfection. They all help out in ways of preparing the dough, cutting it and then draining the oil. Since the bakeries were not getting enough people coming to them, the ladies decided as a group that they would go out and get their customers! So when the cooking is done, they package the Mandazis 6 to a pack, divide up the packages, then off they go—selling their product.
Ugandan women in rural villages have many priorities in the home. They have to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for their families. They take care of their children and have to go get their water from a distance and carry it back in jerry cans. They also have to take their goats to graze and then bring them back home. And keeping their homes clean and neat is a big task with all the red dirt, dust and no running water.
From my observations, a Ugandan woman defines physical and mental strength. They endure a lot for so little. They earn less than $1.25 a day, yet they are happy. There is little access to good healthcare and often they deliver their babies at home, in some cases, alone. Then in 3 days, they are back to work, taking their babies with them, often carrying them on their back while they do what they need to do. Currently, the women in the 2 bakeries work 3 or 4 days a week, but they want to work more often. They desire to distribute their product further in order to gain more customers and they are ready to double their production efforts. Transportation though makes this a big obstacle. Very few people own a car or motorcycle taxi (called a boda boda) and the price to hire someone to deliver is costly. When I asked the ladies what they loved most about working in the bakery business, they all agreed that they like making their own money. But in addition, some had these additional replies:
“I feel like I can feel young and pretty because I can now buy soap”
“I like that I know how to use a calculator now”
“I am glad I have a skill so that if this job doesn’t last, I can apply it somewhere else”
“I am more popular in my village now so people like to talk to me and that makes me feel good about myself”
I am very inspired by these hard-working people and feel like my achievements aren’t that much compared to theirs.