By Eric Barigye
Welcome back to our weekly blog that explores a particular aspect of Uganda life, to learn more about the people and place that play host to our Adventure Like No Other!
This week we will spend a day in the life of 30-year-old Masaka cobbler, Buwembo Paul.
He was born and raised in Masaka, the Nyendo area to be specific. With his father being a builder and his mother a farmer it was destined for Paul to find work with his hands.
After completing secondary school in Masaka, his parents sent him to a vocational school where he completed his 2-year training in his trade. Once he was back home Paul begun the journey that brought him to where he is now, 8 years later.
Based on one of Masaka’s main streets along Elgin Road, Paul leaves his house as early as 6:30 to make the 3-mile journey in order to have his place open by 7 AM. His box containing all his equipment, 2 benches, and a seat, plus a couple of sacks containing customer’s shoes, are retrieved from a nearby store he rents. It takes minutes to have it all set up with the aid of his partner.
Given that he is on a busy street in the middle of town, he often finds he has waiting customers. But he makes sure to have his breakfast before 9 AM as well. Paul does restorations (prices depend on damage), mending (2 to 3,000 shillings) and polishing (1,000 shillings). However, if an order is placed he can also make his own shoe too (at 13,000 shillings ~ $3.50). His customers are of all ages and sexes.
Lunch is brought to him between 1 and 2 PM. The busy nature of his work means he doesn’t leave his stall for it and eats it there.
“I enjoy my work! I have built my house and taken my children to school through it.”
Paul is further encouraged by the increasing number of people in the area, which for him, means more customers.
He closes up around 7 PM and returns his things to the store. At home, Paul has his wife and two of his 4 children (who are not in boarding school) waiting for him. After checking on their homework, he can have some tea before dinner and bed.
Thank you for spending the day with us and see you next week!