Cutting hair to earn a living and build self-reliance

To make a living, Kenedy Ayizuru offers haircuts to refugees in Village1, Cluster1, Zone4, Bidibidi Refugee settlement. Photo: Joshua Amara/Oxfam

Kennedy Ayizuru is no different from other youth refugees who entered Uganda amidst uncertainty in South Sudan, close to 4years ago. Kennedy Ayisuru, a single male youth fled his home in Morobo county South Sudan and is now living in Bidibidi, Yumbe district.

He ran from his home country with his mother and 2 siblings after seeing his father brutally slaughtered by armed men, who also abducted and killed many other males, and raped old and young women. He reached Uganda and settled in Bidibidi on 18th August 2016.

Being a teenager with a sickly mother, life was difficult and settling down took a while, for example, trying to construct their home was a challenge, considering the high cost of local materials sold by the landlords around the settlement.

“Food rations we received could not take me and my family throughout the month because from the quantity served, we had to sell off some of the food to buy other necessities like clothing, seeds, and different food type like meat. Sometimes we also did barter trade, exchanging a portion of the food ration for the item needed,” he added.

“A close friend of mine told me about a program for training youths to acquire skills to have a self-supporting business. When I told my mother, she willingly encouraged me so I applied for salon and hairdressing and got the opportunity to participate in the training at Lodonga Polytechnic school. After the training, I was given a startup kit which included scissors, assorted salon and hairdressing items like, a hair shaver, scissors, hair oils for different hair types among others. This has helped in creating my salon business at the trading centre in our settlement’’. Kennedy explained.

Kennedy set up his business at the trading centre in Bidibidi and notes that he now feels empowered to support his mother and siblings, for whom he has bought clothing, change of diet, and hired land for farming. All this is through the salon business that earns him not less than 15,000 Uganda shillings daily.

“My plan is to expand and move to a bigger trading centre and if possible, have two outlets to employ some more jobless youths to work in the saloon,’’ he said.