b'Ugandan Youth78% of its people under the age of 30, Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world and a shortage of productive, quality employment opportunities to support it. As a result, many young people face a future with limited options and little incentive to strive for more. Benon has seen hope and inspiration flourish over the last five years. Now, money is not wasted but saved, in incremental amounts, and ByCATHERINE BOND, World Ark contributor stronger friendships formed during Photographs by ZAHARA ABDUL the weekly meetings held to discuss the income and savings the youth make from trading cattle, selling milk ERIC MUGABE HAS AMBITIONS FORErics father died of old age, without debt. Ericand making new business CEMENTING HIS FUTURE as a cattle trader,was 20, his parents long since separated, andinvestments. and using it to build up capital, year by year, inbrought up on the farm. His father, growingWe taught them a lot, said his home area of rolling grassland in centralweak years earlier, had asked him to leave schoolBenon, adding that, along with Uganda. As the person his family turns to forat the age of 9 to look after his cattle. classes on animal husbandry, help, at 24, he shoulders heavy socialHeifer came into my life around the samefinancial planning and other responsibilities for his age.time my dad passed away, Eric said. Alwayspractical skills, came advice on life, Balancing the two, work and family, iskeen to save some of the profit from the milk hisbehaviors and attitudes.uppermost in his mind as he thinks throughfather sold, when he came into contact withEric and another member of the how he and his siblings can best share the assetsBenon Tugumejust two years his senior andsame youth group, Monica Kabagire, their father left them, a farm and 50 dairy cattle.newly recruited as a Heifer community facilitatorcredit Benons talents as a The middle child, he and his two brothers will he joined one of the two youth developmentcommunity facilitator for getting the each choose the breed of livestock they wish togroups Benon led to function, in part, as savinggroups in Kapeke off the ground. So raise on their share of the land, either thecircles.many young men and women graceful, long-horned, Ankole cattle manyThe impact these groups have made onjoined, in fact, that an original group Ugandans love, or the Friesian dairy cows Ericyoung people in this, their home area of Kapeke,of 60 had to be split into two and himself prefers. Uganda, has been profound, Benon said. Withmade a more manageable size.LEFTMonica Kabagire, a member of a youth development group in Uganda, takes records of the groups collective savings during a weekly meeting. CENTERSaving together as a group builds a revolving loan fund for group members, like Eric Mugabe, toEric tends to his cattle in Kapeke, invest in theirUganda, where helping youth cattle businessessucceed in agriculture is critical to and otheraddressing unemployment.enterprises. 20| SUMMER 2023 HEIFER.ORG |21'