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Senior Citizens Grant in Karamoja

Mary Tiyan, 62 years old, Baza Village, Boma North, Moroto District, Karamoja

Senior Citizens Grant in Karamoja

Mary Tiyan, a widow with 3 children and 15 grandchildren, has been receiving the Senior Citizens Grant (SCG) for 2 years. Mary’s own children have all lost their husbands, and are at home without work. She explains that they died during the time of conflict, and one died from disease. She adds that she too lost her husband when she was young.

For Mary the payments are her major source of income, and she says that before she had no income at all. The payments have enabled her to start a small business selling mandazi (small doughnuts). She is now sending her grandchildren to school, and through the payments she is able to buy school books, uniforms and food. Mary has also joined a savings group, which is involved in sensitizing the community on harmful cultural practices. She explains how on the days when you have no money you can go to the savings group and get a loan, and that because she receives the Senior Citizens Grant, she can now access credit.

Prior to the payments, Mary describes, you would just grow your own crops and eat only that, mainly sorghum. Now Mary sometimes buys spaghetti and rice. She even buys meat once in a while, and some days has two meals, lunch and dinner. In the past, she recalls, they would eat only once a day, or sleep without eating at all.

In Mary’s case, as a widow, when she receives she just purchases what she needs most. In her opinion, for those who have lost their husbands, including herself, this money is helping to improve their status in the community. When the money is received she feels relieved and knows that all her needs are taken care of. She adds “I can buy items for the little ones, like sugar and mandazi, and it helps to build a friendship and relationship with them. Even for myself, I was able to buy a blanket”.

When asked what other challenges she is facing in her life, Mary confesses that she is challenged by the open heart of the people who are giving this money to them. She says she has never seen people who would give money away like this. “It is a good kind of challenge”, she notes smiling, “but it is a shock and I hope it continues”.