30 January 2013

Uganda: Single Parent in Marriage

Jessica Ataa has been a single mother even as a married woman. Ataa, a single mother of seven, narrated to Esther Namirimu the emotional pain she went through because of her husband's negligence

When the children were young and still in primary school, I would wake up early in the morning to make fi re, prepare breakfast, prepare the children and then walk them to school. By this time, my husband would be in bed enjoying the morning slumber," she says.

My colleagues and bosses always blamed me for reporting late. They would always joke that I work like a donkey.

After work, I would go to the garden and also spent the weekends digging or getting firewood. I would then return home to fetch water and prepare food.

Sometimes, instead of going to the garden, I would go to the market to buy food.

Meanwhile, my husband would go straight to the bar to drink. He abandoned all the responsibilities to me; checking children's books, disciplining them, making sure they are fine and had a good meal.

I can never forget the day two of our children fell sick and we took them to the hospital. Surprisingly when asked the children's names, he did not know which name belonged to which child.

This is because he would always arrive home late when the children were asleep and they would go to school when he was still asleep.

I cannot blame him about the financial bit. He would just put money for upkeep on the table and did not care about how it was spent. I always wished he was there for the male children; to counsel them about life, hard work and success.


I now have three graduates, two children at university and one in secondary school. The last-born is in P6.

Currently, I am also helping out my co-wife by paying her children's school fees because I do not want her children to be a problem to mine in future.


With time, my husband started getting involved with many women. Whenever I talked to him about my suffering, he resorted to violence.

We had so many wrangles; he got tired of me and married another wife after 15 years.

He abandoned me with very young children, the first-born was in P5. I was also pregnant. This is when I really felt it, looking for food, paying school fees and acting as both father and mother to six children and one in the womb.

Changing Women's Lives:

I joined Nakeere Women's Group, which trains women to make African crafts. I was later elected the chairperson of the group.

As the chairperson of the Nakeere women, I emphasise self-employment. We make crafts, which include Karimojong necklaces, and traditional attire.

We also make shea butter and practise farming, especially planting vegetables, which we use for home consumption and sell the rest for money.

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