If there is one personality among the1000 Shillings women that could be considered larger than life, that personality would belong to Martha. This is Martha’s second summer working with 1000 Shillings, and her reputation as being vivacious, outgoing, loud, and hilarious is well deserved. With Martha, there is no small talk or awkward introduction time: there is simply Martha and her beautiful and positive outlook on life, something that is present whenever she is around
Martha is a 46 year-old divorced mother of seven. During the week, Martha runs a a cassava, charcoal, and rice business that has gained major following in Namatala over the past year. She was able to start this business through the microgrant she was awarded from 1000 Shillings. She also washes clothes part-time to bring in extra income; supporting eight people is no easy task. This money has gone to her children: six of her children are in private school that has a fee for every term. The most expensive tuition for one child is 180,000 Shillings per term–an unthinkable amount one year ago. With her business, Martha is able to pay the tuition for all of her children, the greatest gift of the past year’s successes.
Martha loves to cook, especially her favorite dish – beans. She also enjoys doling out relationship advice, teaching the finer points of paper bead making to novice artists, and singing as she walks, always stopping to greet children and the elderly of Namatala. Martha is one of the few women who holds back nothing, and her carefree attitude and constant jokes make her a true joy to be around. Despite seven children, a sad divorce, and limited budget, Martha is always planning for the future of her family. She has an unbreakable spirit, and her 46 years have been filled with more vivacity and life than many twice her age have experienced.
Martha is a big personality within the 1000 Shillings family, and her smile and genuine love for what she does is perhaps what is the most beautiful about her. Her sarcastic comments and spunky conversations have made her a favorite among the 1000 Shillings staff. What truly makes her so memorable, though, is her resiliency, progress, and vision for herself and her family–a vision that is rapidly unfolding and becoming no longer a mere vision, but her everyday life.
* Article by Kelsey Ognibene, 2013 Fellow