"Home makes you feel like you belong somewhere" (Halima, Uganda)

The dusty, rutted road that leads to Hailma Bagaaya’s house often doesn’t bear the load of cars. The route from the village is usually accomplished on foot. Young boys push bicycles overloaded with green banana bunches. Women walk the road to reach the nearest well, balancing the ubiquitous, bright-yellow water jugs that are mas-produced in the capital city of Kampala. Only the slow crescendo of an approaching boda-boda – Uganda’s motorcycle taxi – forces foot traffic to the side.

The skills to build her own house

Three years ago, a passerby wouldn’t have seen much of Halima’s house along this road. At that point, the 41-year-old widow had completed only the foundation of her future home. Halima had the know-how and labour help she needed to build the rest – money and building materials, however, were another matter. As work remained at a standstill, Halima continued to pay for rent for temporary housing elsewhere.

“It was frustrating,” she remembers. “Having to pay rent and other costs, it was difficult to store up all I needed to finish the house.”

Our micro-loans programme in Uganda

Then, one of Halima’s cousins told her about something new Habitat for Humanity was offering: housing microfinance. Halima decided to apply for a housing loan through the programme. She completed an education course at our Masindi branch office, and our staff visited her to assess her situation.

In early 2009 Halima received her first Habitat housing loan. She used it to build the walls of her house. She had been able to secure some materials for the roof and used some of her savings to complete it. After paying off her initial loan in 2010, Halima took out a second Habitat loan to plaster, paint and complete the flooring.

Today, her brick home is complete. She has a door that locks, offering protection for her, her sister and Halima’s niece. At the back of the house, Halima has been able to construct a chicken coop: hundreds of chicks provide her household with a steady source of income. To the front and side of the house, Halima and her sister have planted Irish potatoes, yams, tomatoes and onions. There are also several trees: mango, jackfruit and, of course, plantain – which is necessary to make matoke, the national dish in Uganda.

“It just makes you feel like you belong somewhere,” Halima says.

Help people like Halima build their own house


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