In Kinubi Township of Hoima City’s East Division, one finds a shoe-display adjacent to JOLEWO shoe making premises. It is just in the corridor. The Director is Ms Jovia Kyomuhendo born of Kataseenywa Cell in Nyangahya Division, Masindi Municipality.
Most passersby have to pause a bit, draw near and see the products of a young woman in shoe production. Such work is known for men.
Owing to a humble background and her father’s guidance, Ms Kyomuhendo could not proceed with education beyond ‘O’ level without seeking vocational skills.
Is Kyomuhendo regretting anyway?
“I do not regret because I am successful. Some of my colleagues who proceeded to university and completed some six years ago have never got jobs but for me, I am working,” says Ms Kyomuhendo.
The young woman says she is now free from the job searching stress since the income is right in her hands.
Through her continued determination, Ms Kyomuhendo emerged the second runner in the Uganda Small Scale Industries (USSIA), Bunyoro Youth Innovation Awards, 2019.
“I was very excited because the competition was too tight and everybody looked conversant with what they were doing. I was awarded with one million shillings that has helped to boost by business”, adds Ms Kyomuhendo.
In the hills and valleys of her life after training in shoe making at Winaz Academy Vocational Training Centre in Kampala, Ms Kyomuhendo worked as a primary school teacher searching for money to buy shoe making equipment, a dream achieved through combining the funds from teaching and the USSIA award at the beginning of 2020.
She tells Kazi-njema newsthat she never believed that the courage by her father to acquire such a skill could make her a great person.
“My father Mr Yovan Ruhuukya Ndoraaho always encouraged me to do shoe making or similar skills and until now he gives me courage. The job has helped me to get several social and economic benefits. I am economically independent and I have many friends across the world because of what I am doing”, says Ms Kyomuhendo.
Like any enterprising person, she has known joints of fair prices to purchase the raw materials including leather from Kampala..
As many elites cried foul over their jobs being crippled by the Covid-19 pandemic during its peak, the situation was different to Ms Kyomuhendo.
“Despite the current hard economic times, I have something to take home,” she adds.
The shoemaker has discovered that hard work and determination is the way to go for women if they are to cut the chains of culture whereby certain types of work are reserved for men alone.
Alongside earning a living, Ms Kyomuhendo has, so far, trained three youth who also dispersed for self-employment within Bunyoro.
To ensure work is moving steadily, she is working with another gentleman at her workshop.
The Hoima Resident City Commissioner (RCC), Mr Badru Mugabi, further challenges the youths to be hard working and embrace vocational skills as it is the best avenue towards tackling the unemployment dilemma in the country.
“I am most times disappointed by youths that despise some jobs. It is useless to have a degree and be idle when there is something to do or a skill to acquire. As government, we are also promoting skilling through different programmes,” he says.
Bunyoro has a couple of vocational and technical institutions including the Catholic-based St Simon Peter’s Vocational Institute and the Anglican-based Nile Vocational Institute in Rwenkobe and Duhaga cells respectively in Hoima city; Ibanda Technical Institute and Buhimba Technical Institute both in Kikuube district.
But most students and parents degrade them from studying there when they reserve an opportunity to struggle to achieve a degree in whatsoever discipline.
The mind-locks on degrees might continue driving this to hard times as there is no sign that many of the current professional disciplines at higher institutions of learning will relate to the job market and life skills requirements.