While travelling along the Great North Road in Serenje area, I came across a number of women and children by the roadside selling big and cute looking sweet potatoes. For a distance stretching about 15 kilometers, there were about 10 groups of them at different points airing their commodity for sale. One group of sellers after another kept on waving at moving cars begging them to stop. It became blatant to me that those sellers shared the same serious challenge; lack of market.
My mind and heart got immersed in the daily lives of these people. As I did so, I took a mental flight to the month of October when they were toiling on their farms under the scorching sun to plant sweet potatoes. While working, their hearts must have been full of vigor and hope for the future. They must have hoped for bumper harvest; enough for household use and for fetching some income for the family. At the end of my mental flight, I landed at their present lives. These women and children virtually spend their whole day by the roadside. At the wee hours of dawn, women are already by the roadside hoping to catch up with a generous motorist. And as the day goes by, their children come to join them. This explains why one always sees children accompanying these women selling by roadside. It has become their life; they cook lunch and supper from there. They only go home late at night to lay their heads. During school days, it must be very difficult for schooling children as they won’t have time to do their homework from home, perhaps they do it by the roadside.
As I kept on reflecting on my mental flight and its eventual landing, I made a decision that on my way back to the parish I will stop by one of this “stop and buy roadside markets” not to extend a hand of solidarity. As I parked my car, they all rushed to me with a bucket of sweet potatoes. And no sooner had I came out of the car than they began one by one promoting their commodities. For the few minutes, I realized that, due to lack of market for their produce, they end up disposing them at a throw away price.
As I drove back home, I kept on thinking about these hardworking women of Serenje who tirelessly work hard to break the chains of poverty. May Saint Joseph, the hardworking worker and patron of all workers, intercede for them and all those in similar conundrums!