Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network

Francis Ssuuna (17): Paul Polak helps me bring my village “Out of Poverty”

Me with my mum in the village

On Wednesday 26th September I had a meeting with Paul Polak, the famous author of “Out of Poverty” on Skype, with two of my Butterfly Project colleagues Mercy Moro (13) and Gilbert Byamugisha (16).  This is the report of the conversation he had with me, Francis Ssuuna, from Kawungu village, Lyantonde, in Western Uganda.

Firstly, I had three questions for him but I only asked two,( a/b) because time was not enough due to it being late at night.

1.In my village there are a lot of problems, Which makes it not developed:
a. People not working co-creatively together
b. People drinking alcohol
c Lack of proper planning and preparation
How should I, as a young social entrepreneur try to tackle these broad problems?

His answers:
“If you want people to work together, then you must find a project that will help them to come together and share their ideas” As a young person you can go and talk to the old people in your village to help you do that, Maybe have a meeting and talk to the people about change,tell them what you have learnt  from the Butterfly project. make the people to see that poverty can be eliminated.

Me: I know some people in my village believe  that they are poor and even they do not think about being rich.How is it possible to change people who think like that?

If you make a good meeting and tell the people   about what they must not and what they must do, I hope they will understand.

You know it’s not easy to change people who drink alcohol but you can also tell them what results from alcohol because I believe that many may not know the results.

2. As a social entrepreneur, you know about problem-solving and you go to your village. You see an opportunity around harvest time, where people have more money and could club together to buy some equipment which might change their income greatly, if they worked together. Instead they just buy, buy, buy and misuse money. What is the solution to this, which will help them in the long-term?

If people have money during the harvesting time and don’t know what how to use, they you must teach them about the ways of making money how to use Capital to produce more money. In your village if people do farming twice a year, then they  can change and maybe start irrigation farming during the dry season which will help to double their income. They can use that money they get during harvesting to help them invest in the irrigation farming.
Another way is like this,”Do people in your village rear goats?”

Yes they do.

If people rear goats and have a suitable climate, it’s good if they set up a goat rearing club which will help them to get milk and meat and at the  sametime they can sell the goats. If your people can find a place where to buy the goats from, I am sure it will help on their development.

I told him that in my community, it is a rural area where you find poor people as the main problem because they do not have permanent jobs to get them money, instead they all do farming on a small scale. These people do not take time to think about their problems because many of them believe that the problems are impossible. Many of these people don’t provide education to their children due to being poor..

These people have no way to earn money daily instead, they earn seasonally at the time of harvesting, so you find that they get the money twice in a year in a small amount. When they get the money, you find that they are buying Christmas clothes, drinking alcohol as a sign of celebrating the season.
They do it annually and you find that they do not have better plans for their money and this has affected them negatively, and it has caused the area to be undeveloped, disadvantaged, poor people and uneducated young people. I do believe that these people really want change but they don’t know how to seek it.As a young change maker how can, I solve these problems in my village?

Paul Polak giving a speech

Paul said, “Have you ever thought of a  solution?.”

I told him that I don’t know the better solution. I told him that if people come together, maybe start a chicken farm on large scale, and then share the money could help them to improve on their well-being.

He asked me if the people rear animals.

I told him that they have goats.

Paul advised that if people can come together and buy goats it can help them to get access to the money easily because they can use them for many things. He said that the people can sale milk from goats, which can help them to have a daily income for themselves; I told him this cannot work out because people in my village do not take milk from goats.
They can maybe use it for other purposes but not milk. He said there are special goats that provide milk and I believe that it difficult to get them here in Uganda.

The conversation was too long but these are the main points I picked from it.  I would like to thank Paul for listening to and answering my questions.

Editor’s note: We have located a source of dairy goats in Masaka and hope to trial them early next year.