This blog post was written by our Creative Communications & Events Officer, Megan Henderson, following a visit in October 2018.
Sam is a Community Based Trainer (CBT) in the remote region of Karamoja, in northeast Uganda. He is incredibly proud of his work; helping groups with saving, loaning and organising literacy training sessions. Sam did not hesitate with his role, he jumped right in to start forming groups and begin training. Today, he leads nine Trust Groups. A Trust Group is a group of members who save their money collectively and loan from the same collective pot, co-guaranteeing each others’ loans.
When Sam began the groups, he noticed many of the members were hesitant about saving. Members had such little income, and the concept of saving was new, so they were not aware of the benefits saving could have. Slowly he had to encourage members around a culture of saving, but they often did not know how to build their profits or begin.
Distance is a great challenge for both Sam and the members he works with. Members could travel up to 15km on foot to attend a group meeting, or go to the market. Sam is working with members to find ways to combat these challenges. Even among hardship, Sam is quick to note how much the community’s attitude for saving has changed. Many of the members look at saving positively and see how saving will benefit them in times of drought or other emergencies.
“Distance is one of my challenges, but I find it is okay. I need to reach the members because of my passion to help them see the changes in their lives,” Sam told us when we last saw him in October.
Sam enjoys watching his groups grow and learn together, though he admits he can become impatient as members adjust to new concepts and ideas; he sees members’ potential often before they do. Sam is using his impatience as an asset: making sure he is quick to encourage members during their literacy lessons. After five months of literacy training many group members are writing their names and reading for the first time. Often members find the groups through their local church, or word of mouth.
The positive changes and growth that Sam witnesses within his Trust Groups certainly outweigh the challenges as Sam states, “I know this job is where I am supposed to be.”