Resilience in action: Ramanzan’s transformation through skill-based empowerment

Article | 25 October 2023
My name is Ramanzan Wamimbi, I am 18 years old and I live in Madengo Village in Mbale District. It is a very remote place in the eastern part of Uganda along the slopes of Mt Elgon. It is a hard-to-reach area because of the mountainous terrain.

My story is sometimes hard to tell. I was orphaned at a very early age. My parents were poor and both died when I was still an infant. Growing up without both parents is the hardest thing anyone would ever have to face.

I have never had any formal schooling. There was nobody to pay for that to happen. Right from my childhood, I have grown up providing cheap labour on people’s farms. From this, I have earned a small income. Many times, they would not pay me even that little money. So, for me, I thought that was it. It was a destiny. It has been 18 long years. School was something I stopped thinking about. But it remained one of my remotest dreams.

In 2022, when I had just turned 17 years of age, something happened that changed everything. I was selected to participate in a skills-based training by ACCEL Africa. I later came to learn that the training was sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. For the first time in my entire life, I stepped into a classroom.
Would I be able to step in a classroom? Yes. My chance had come.

For me the project was a blessing. Although it was not a typical formal classroom schooling, it gave me what I needed – Skills. We were given a wide variety of courses to choose from; tailoring, motor vehicle mechanics, hairdressing, name it. I chose hairdressing. It was more appealing to me than the others.
When I came back from that training, I was a changed man. It was like being born again.

I wanted to start a salon. The project supported me to get a start-up kit, which I was required to pay 50% for, I did this out of my savings. That is how I acquired the hairdressing equipment I use in my salon today and I have never looked back since then.

This place has no electricity. So, I acquired a simple solar system that helps me run the hair dressing equipment and lighting in this salon. Thanks to ILO support. Averagely, I make about UGX 7,000 (Approximately $2) a day.

What are my dreams you ask? I want to set up a first-class hair salon. I want to help other teenagers to acquire skills in hair dressing. To do that, I will need to save money and expand my capacity.