By Umar Nsubuga
Zubeda Kekibira is a single mother who earns a living by plaiting hair. The 59-year-old had a rough childhood after losing both parents at a tender age.
“During the political turmoil of 1979, I fled to Kenya with my boyfriend, who later became my husband. At the time, I was 25 years old.
“However, 12 years ago, I returned to live with my relatives after my husband passed away,” she says.
Upon arriving in Uganda, she wondered how she could earn a living, given that she was not educated.
Plaiting hair was her fallback, because it is one of the things she had learnt while in Kenya.
“My relatives rented a single room for me in Naguru, a Kampala suburb, where I slept. They also gave me capital of sh600,000.
“I used this money to rent a single room in Wandegeya, a city suburb, where I set up a salon. I spent sh400,000 on rent and the balance on buying a chair, carpet and a mirror.
“My earnings depended on the number of clients I got per day. On a good day, I earned up to sh10,000,” Kekibira narrated.
She said that was not the kind of life she dreamt about, but she is grateful that it taught her to be hardworking and resilient.
Kekibira says because of her good services, she has maintained many clients
“By 2005, I had saved sh1m. I borrowed another sh1m from a micro-finance institution and bought land in Komamboga, a city suburb.
The land cost sh6.5m, so I paid for it in instalments. “I started construction the same year, after getting another loan from the microfinance institution.”
Kekibira said: “The construction was done in phases because I relied on loans. I would borrow sh1m, pay it back in six months and then take more one as soon as I finished paying.
“The number of clients in the salon grew because they appreciated my services. I was able to service the loans, pay schools fees and at times save a little money.”
How she built
It took eight months to complete the foundation. At the time, a truck of sand cost sh60,000, a brick was sh50, while a bag of cement went for sh12,000.
When my relatives learnt that I was struggling to put up a house, they supported me by buying me cement regularly.
It was expensive to transport the construction materials, especially the stones and sand. When I finished the foundation, I bought iron sheets and all the bricks that were needed. The iron sheets cost sh900,000.
I used to pay builders sh10,000 each per day, while each porter earned sh4,000 daily.
Entering the house
After roofing, Kekibira moved into the house.
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Widow builds house from plaiting hair