Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. This Chinese proverb sheds light on the philosophy of charity to prevent poverty. It teaches us that teaching a man a trade is a better way of providing help because he learns to earn an honest living instead of depending on charity.
This philosophy was put into practice by HIJRA that supported a formerly Village Saving and Loans Association (VSLA), a group of 55 (F=38,M=17) refugees and nationals through supporting start fish farming which has seen them get a livelihood. The group was supported with a start up training in fish farming and stocked fish cages to improve on their their livelihoods.
The fish farming project is under the UNDP livelihoods program run by HIJRA where 5 fish cages were installed in Lake Rwamurunga, Oruchinga. HIJRA supported the communities with training sessions on fish cages management, provided fish feeds and recently facilitated a visit to Kajjansi National Fisheries Research Centre in November. To boost their skills and availing the farmers with more information on better methods of fish farming like fish transfers, fingerling feeding, proper care and identification for sick fish and fish harvesting technologies as a way of enabling them better their trade.
“I have learnt a lot since I joined the group when we were still a VSLA. That is when I knew saving was a good practice. Now, I can proudly say I am a fish farmer because of all the training I have received from HIJRA, “Mzeeyi Micheal, a group member said. “Since we started fishing in January, we have harvested 1,389 fish earning 3,320,300shs which we have been able to benefit from enabling me meet my family financial obligations such as educate my children and I have made new friends in the process” he added.
Another member who is a Rwandan refugee stated, “With all these new skills I have learnt, I’m confident that I can recreate something similar when I return home in the future and I also start earning money.”
As a group, they plan on supporting other VSLA groups on fish farming and any other activities as a way of countering poverty from the grass root level within the camp. They also plan on building their own fish cages.