This week, we return to Uganda to revisit another family who have taken out microfinance loans through Habitat for Humanity. Speaking to them earlier this year, we were immediately aware of the huge differences in medical costs and treatment in Africa, as compared to healthcare in the UK and much of Europe. This is the story of James, Ruth and their children.
James and Ruth took out their first loan with Habitat for Humanity in 2012 to put a roof on their house. This loan was relatively small at just $200 which they will pay back, with interest. Currently they live in a home made from mud built over 80 years ago by James’ father. Their monthly income is $100, which they earn from farming and selling fruit grown on their land.
A significant sum of their income ($1 per day) is spent on medication for their sick daughter Nora, who fell ill with a fever a few years ago, which then developed into episodes of severe fitting. Nora had to spend 3 months in hospital and is still unable to walk, talk, be left unattended or pick things up by herself. Her illness has not yet been diagnosed correctly, adding additional costs to her care including ongoing check-ups, bills and hospital visits.
Nora’s condition now means that she needs constant care and daily treatment. This is an additional financial burden on the family and prevents her mother Ruth from working. As a method of income the family are now breeding rabbits which they sell for meat.
The Habitat microfinance loans come with certain conditions. They must only be used for building materials, and improving families’ homes. A good home brings stability and status to James and his family, James and Ruth have almost finished paying back their first loan with Habitat, and they expect to continue taking loans out.