Christine Nabada’s motivation to move to Yambio in 2009 mirrored the experience of migrants worldwide. I had to look for greener pastures,” the single mother told The Niles, adding that she wanted to earn enough money to send her three children to school. In Uganda I could not get the amount of money I needed to fulfil their demands.”
Nabada first worked as a waitress in a hotel, saving enough money to start up her own business. I worked in a hotel and we were paid 15 South Sudanese pounds daily (4.89 US$),” she said. I saved for two years, then I moved on.”
In Uganda I could not get the amount of money I needed to fulfil their demands.”
She built up her own business, selling porridge and tea at market places and offices. That task was far from straight forward. Initially, it was hard to get customers, but over time she built up a loyal customer base. She expanded her business and employed five other women as demand rose.
However after realising that the business was profitable, some of her employees established their own ventures, competing with Nabada and taking some customers.
Other obstacles were even more serious. Nabada was on the verge of tears as she recalled how she was harassed by uniformed men on her way to work. They would beat her or demand bribes, something which she attributes to her status as a foreigner.
This work requires us to start the day very early but in the first years it wasn’t easy,” she recalled. Security men carrying out street patrol arrested us several times. They demanded to know why we foreigners are moving so early yet the locals are still sleeping.”
Fearing further harassment, she never complained to the authorities.
We never reported the incidents,” she said, explaining how colleagues tried to avoid any trouble by taking boda boda motorbike taxis to work, or avoiding main roads on the way to work.
They (security personnel) demanded to know why we foreigners are moving so early yet the locals are still sleeping.”
Nabada starts her day at five in the morning, preparing various saucepans of porridge and tea which she sells at two pounds each. Her day lasts until nine in the evening. She now employs six women to help her cooking porridge, tea, samosas and pancakes.
Despite long days, spent lifting heavy vats of food and walking long distances, Nabada said her works pays off. Although at times I get back pain and headache due to the nature of my work, am able to save at least 300 pounds per week which I send to my son who studies at Nkumba University in Kampala or use to support my two daughters in secondary school.”
Nabada said her example should be adopted by South Sudanese women, who she urged to be more independent and not rely on their husbands for everything.
She said it is important not to be deterred by prevailing prejudices. When I started the porridge business, ladies would say it’s a fake business, others hated me especially those who are making tea at the street saying I have spoilt their business,” she said.
She eventually hopes to move her business back home to Uganda, once her children have completed their studies.