From Despair to Dreams: Selina's Story of Resilience


Selina preparing chapatis in her makeshift stall in Moroto. Photo credit: UN Women / Allen Ankunda
Selina, at the makeshift shelter where she makes and sells chapatis. Photo Credit: UN Women / Allen Ankunda

Ekatapan Selina's life journey has been one of resilience and determination, marked by challenges and triumphs in equal measure. Born and raised in Turkana, Kenya, Selina, aged 45 years, is now a resident of Katikekile, Moroto district in Karamoja, Uganda.

Selina married in 1992, however, tragedy struck in 2010 when she lost her husband in an accident, leaving her to navigate life as a widow with two children. With no support from her late husband's family and lacking any property of her own, the weight of her circumstances led her into a downward spiral of depression, prompting her to seek solace in the caves of Mt. Moroto.

Luckily, Selina wasn't alone. Caring neighbors found her and brought her back for medical attention. After one year on medical rehabilitation, Selina returned home but faced another blow - one of her sons had been arrested and imprisoned. Once again, her neighbors stepped in, providing shelter for her. Having shelter alone was not enough to meet Selina’s needs, which pushed her to engage in casual work to making enough money to survive.

In 2023, UN Women with funding from the Government of Japan began implementing a Leadership, Empowerment, Access and Protection (LEAP) project in Moroto in partnership with Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE). Selina was identified as a widow-in-need and enrolled in the project where she learned valuable skills for financial independence. The women and girls were mobilized into a group and received training on village savings and loans and climate-smart agriculture.

Selina displays some money after selling chapatis to a customer.
Selina displays some money after selling chapatis to a customer. Photo Credit: UN Women/Allen Ankunda

Post-training, Selina and her compatriots, forming the Nadukon Village Savings and Loan Association, swiftly embarked on vegetable cultivation to generate income for regular savings.

Empowered with newfound financial literacy, in February 2024, Selina secured 289,000 Uganda shillings loan (About $77 ), strategically allocating it across three ventures: bean and cooking oil trade, chapati production, and stone quarrying. Her aspiration extended beyond loan repayment; she aimed to provide her children with a permanent abode. The chapati enterprise now yields a daily income of 45,000 Uganda shillings (About $12), enabling Selina to accumulate funds for the construction of her dream home.

Selina’s journey epitomizes the transformative power of resilience, community support, and access to opportunities, illuminating the path toward a brighter future despite the shadows of adversity.