Emerging from the lockdown a better father
58-year-old Lambert is living to prove that stereotypes and negative cultural norms can be dismantled even while living in a very patriarchal rural society. He now comfortably shares household chores with his wife,their 3 daughters and 3 sons. As a family, they all freely discuss finances, including budgeting for the available money together.
This is not a normal scenario in most households in Ugandan communities. Typically, household chores are left to the women and girls and finances are rarely discussed as a family, but a preserve for the manto decide especially on expenditure.
This change of attitude was however not instant. It was inspired from a coffee value chain group in which Lambert was a member for purposes of increasing their coffee growing and sales. One of the methodologies that was introduced by Agency For Community Empowerment to help the farmers with their coffee growing and marketing was the Gender Action Learning System. The methodology developed by Oxfam uses a series of tools to help the participants explore the opportunities around them but also vision their futures. It also challenges them on how well they are working together with their families to achieve the stated visions. Using successful examples of families that have used the methodology to work together and achieve their visions, group members, including Lambert were inspired to try it out.
Rather than having an individual vision, he worked with the family to have a family vision and this required them to work together. Lambert realized that by helping his wife with household chores, they were both able to do the farming togetherand realize increased produce as well as income.
He has never looked back!
Since the change he realized in his own household, Lambert became a champion of change in his community, encouraging fellow men to work hand in hand with their wives but also to stop practices such a violence.
Until the lockdown that was put in place as part of the measures to stop the spread of the corona virus, Lambert was spending some of his timein the community, educating his fellow men on how to improve their lives and that of their families.
With the lockdown, Lambert says he spends most of his time at home working in the garden together with his wife and children, something that is not new. This has enabled him to bond more with the children who are normally away at school.
Because he was already relating well with his family, it has helped them cope with the challenges the lockdown presented. Although their income has greatly reduced due to a fall in prices of the produce they farm and inability to pursue different markets,the whole family understands this, and they therefore have sacrificed having some basic needs.
Asked how his community reacts to him doing household chores, he says:
“So many people, including women look down on men who get involved in household chores. They think you are not man enough. Because our compounds are open, sometimes people passing by laugh when they find me washing utensils. I am however used to this and rather than get angry, I talk to them aboutthe benefits. For example, from working together with my family, both on unpaid and paid work, we always afford school fees and we have started constructing a permanent house.”
Lambert aspires to have his family as a role model in the entire parish of Pacaka in Erussi, Nebbi District.