Sunday, November 4, 2012

Charlie's Story

The street corner across from Nakasero market where I buy my fresh food boasts several men working in various fashions at all hours of the day every day of the week. Alongside the more official businesses, these men are boda-boda drivers, airtime sellers, guides, and an assortment of other neighborly professions. Charlie is no exception.

So this wasn't the best shot I could have gotten...
Charlie is always smiling for me...except when he told me his story.
Check the next post for that story.
Charlie stands in his ball cap and apron without fail. Honestly, I don’t know if I’d recognize him without that cap. Charlie sells airtime for the various carriers (MTN, Warid, Airtel, Utel) and makes a very slim margin on those sales. But, because he’s been working on this corner for more than 10 years, Charlie has a clientele built around his little business.

Early this year Charlie and the others sharing his street corner realized the economy was declining beyond what they could handle. People are buying from the internet more, they’re not coming to Central Kampala to shop, and a host of other reasons keep them away. To compensate for this downturn, Charlie began displaying and selling work clothing from his small corner. Overalls, hardhats, and work gloves are carefully displayed on the bright pink wall that is the hallmark of Nakasero market.

Even so…even working six days each week for more than 12 hours every day…even adding additional income opportunities to his small business…Charlie could not pay the school fees for his children.

Finding people in Uganda who need money for school fees is not at all uncommon. Finding someone who works as hard as Charlie and STILL can’t pay school fees is also not that uncommon. The economy here is turned around such that no matter what you do it’s tough to survive. But it’s people like Charlie, people who value work, praise God for what they have, do all they can to provide for their families, never ask for hand outs…these are the people I love to help.