Losing her mother at two weeks, Ms Ausi Afusa, a resident of Kicuna Village, Busoro sub-county, Kabarole district, was forced to live a hard life growing up.
This taught her to differentiate good from bad at an early age, a trait that lifted her to a respected person in her community.
“I noticed that people valued my thoughts in village gatherings because they would applaud every time I said something. With time, people, especially women, started coming to me for advice and those that took it lasted in their marriages,” she says.
When the local council was electing cabinet members, she was appointed the Women Councilor, a position she has held for over 30 years.
She says women and men always flock her home when they have marital problems and she advises accordingly. 90 per cent of women she has advised are still in their marriages.
“Some come home as late as midnight and I have to wake up and talk to them. I harbor some of them in my house until morning and escort some to their homes with the help of my boys,” she adds.
She says doing this unpaid-for work is her passion since she loves to see all women happy in their marriages and doing well.
She registered a women’s saving group called Kicuna Saving Group that collects a very big number of people in the village both men and women. These bring Shs 10,000 per week and a saving amount of their choice which is kept with one person in the group. One member takes the sum every Sunday.
She says this has helped them develop as it’s hard for a village person to obtain close to Shs 500,000 at once but the SACCO has made it possible. They have been able to educate their children and start businesses.
Becoming a village VHT
Being an active member, she has worked in a number of projects, with Baylor Uganda, Malaria project (supplying nets) and is now a Village Health Team (VHT) for more than five years now.
Though she only stopped in senior one, Afusa can read and write in both English and Rutooro. She went for training on how to test for malaria and how to administer medicine.
She says this has helped people in the village receive treatment from a nearby place and at a free cost as most people are poor and cannot afford heavy bills in hospitals. In case the child’s situation is complicated, she refers the patient to a health center II.
Sometimes people who come for help are too rowdy and uncontrollable. For these, you have to be calm and let their anger subsidize because that’s the only time they will listen to you.
“Some women hold on to a marriage that you clearly see won’t work out. They are beaten daily, denied food, and you fail to get them out of the mess but with constant talking to them and their husbands, some change and others realize it won’t work and move on,” she says.
She says others come so late in the night when she is resting but she has to wake up while others don’t appreciate.
To be just, you sometimes have to rule against your friends and relatives which distorts relations and other times you have to send someone to police for the cruel things they have done which spoils relations and sometimes creates unending enmity.
As a council, they have been able to wipe all kinds of vices in their village especially thieves. They have also been able to create a developmental village of hardworking people by discouraging idleness. They have fought school dropout though the problem is yet to be fully addressed.