Shoemaking for the future

Enoch is the kind of kid every parent would want to have. He has not let the poverty of his village or the challenges his family has faced define his destiny. Many would have given up hope, but Enoch has a strong desire and drive for his future.

Eighteen-year-old Enoch grew up in the rolling countryside of Kinono, Uganda. His father was disabled by a misaimed grenade in Idi Amin Dada’s civil war in 1979, and was unable to provide for his family. The family depended on Enoch’s mother, a peasant farmer who didn’t have the education or skills to better support her family. People in Enoch’s village who work as subsistence farmers only make the equivalent of $8—per month.

When he was young, Enoch was in and out of school—depending on whether or not his mother could pay for school fees. But Compassion partnered with a church in his village, and Enoch was sponsored. Enoch received the help he needed to stay in school as well as be mentored to plan for his future. Today, Enoch is resilient, determined and has a big dream—to be a doctor.

After Enoch finished primary school, he hoped to proceed to a boarding school in a larger community which would provide a better education so he could pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. However, the additional fee for boarding school was too expensive for his family and beyond what Compassion’s support covered.

Enoch continued in the secondary school in his community, but he also continued to plan and dream big for his future. His Compassion centre had been teaching skills such as baking, cooking and tailoring, but none interested Enoch. Then in 2015, the centre began a shoemaking workshop, and Enoch saw it as the key to his situation.

“I took the course seriously,” Enoch says. “I knew my problem was getting school fees and getting some pocket money for personal effects without having to ask my parents for everything.”

Through the course, Enoch mastered the skill of shoemaking, and then set out to generate income to become self-reliant. With permission, he sold his family’s two goats to buy the supplies he’d need to start his business. Neighbours started bringing him old shoes to repair. From the money he made, he started making African sandals to sell in the market. On market days, he would sell the new shoes he made and also repair shoes.

“I could sell four pairs and repair shoes for at least 20 people, earning an average of 47,000 Ugandan shillings ($18 CAD),” says Enoch.

During his sophomore year holidays, Enoch worked every day from noon to 10 p.m. to repair and sell shoes. He also grew and sold cabbages in order to earn more money. By the end of the school holiday, Enoch had made enough money to pay school fees at the boarding school.

“I always wanted to go to boarding school so that I could perform better,” says Enoch. “I paid for my fees and personal effects so my mum was able to pay for my two siblings.”

At school, Enoch continues to use his skills to earn extra income, repairing shoes so that he can afford to buy breakfast and snacks like the other kids.

Thanks to the skills Enoch learned at his Compassion centre and his determination to improve his future, Enoch’s is equipped to escape from the crushing poverty of his village and pursue his dreams.

By Caroline A. Mwinemwesigwa, Compassion Uganda

Written by: Compassion Canada