Nsangi Ahmad Hassan’s Northern Uganda home will be filled with holiday cheer this season because of a Canadian Co-operative Association-supported co-operative. The income he has earned from the co-op’s sale of bricks and fish will allow him to buy a dress for his wife for Christmas. The 28-year-old can’t remember the last time he purchased a gift for the mother of his three young children - twin five-year-old girls and a three-year-old girl. “In the African culture it is really a very, very bad thing not to please your wife.” He began setting aside money six months ago and looks forward to the day when he will have enough savings to take her to the shop and have her pick out the dress he will buy.
The Bomido co-op is the first of a number of community-led enterprises we will visit over the next two weeks as part of our educational study mission to Africa. I am one of eight co-operators from across Canada who will be capturing in words and photos the people behind these collectives.
Hassan is among the young Ugandans who have discovered the power of belonging to a member-owned rural producer organization. They share in the proceeds from a fishing and brick making co-op near the town of Macinda. Working together, they have created jobs for themselves and better lives for them and their families. “It means a lot to me,” said Hassan of the democratically-run business. “Education is a long-term investment.”
Before the co-op was formed, Hassan was “home starving with a diploma in administration.” He had worked on a road construction project as a security guard but when the road was completed he was out of a job.
Hassan said joining the co-op has “improved the standard of living” for him and his family. In fact, it has generated enough revenue that he has begun construction of a new home for his wife and three children. Only one room is completed, which serves as temporary living quarters for the five-member Hassan household.
Still, for the first time in several years, that small single room will be the site of a very merry Christmas for the Hassans.