Aisha sweats for a living at UCU

By Derrick B, Muduku

On a typical Monday afternoon with the scorching sunlight conquering the entire atmosphere, I see her struggling to climb up a pathway moving with packs of foodstuffs. She is delivering the foodstuffs to offices scattered all over Uganda Christian University UCU), Main Campus. Drips of sweat can be seen flowing down her frail looking face. She stops along the pathway and cuts a tired pose but her determination propels her forward to make the food reach its destination. 

She continues to move along. It is no surprise that she was nicknamed ‘Omutembeyi’ by her workmates and students. ‘Omutembeyi’ is a word in Luganda that means a person who moves around hawking or delivering goods over long distances for a long period of time. 

Aisha Nazziwa,31, who works at Touch of Class restaurant that is located within the premises of UCU, Main Campus says that she got to know of the job offer from a neighbor.” My neighbor who doubles as my sister-in-law used to work at a stationary near the Guild canteen. She is the one who informed me of the job and brought me to Campus and I met my bosses,” she said. 

Nazziwa who has been working in UCU since 2012 says that she has experienced a number of challenges as she goes about her work.” There are cases when my clients underestimate me. You find a person backing me simply because they want the food delivered at their convenience which is at times unrealistic,” she said. 

She adds that the challenge of customers not paying up after borrowing foodstuffs from her makes her incur serious losses as her salary is deducted. 

On the flipside, Nazziwa says that she has benefited from her work.”  I have managed to pay my rent and raise fees for my two children,” she said. 

Nazziwa adds that she is grateful for UCU embracing her in spite of her religious differences.” I am a Moslem but I feel at home at UCU. I have ably practiced my religious beliefs even though I am in an environment that is largely Anglican,” she said. 

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March 2020, Nazziwa was laid off from her job. She says that the loss of the job was unexpected and untimely. 

Nazziwa says that she found it difficult to live without a job.” I was relying on a sister-in-law who stays in Lugazi who would send us food and money at times. Remember that I still have fees to fend for as the children were studying,” she said. 

Robinah Nanteza, the Co- Manager of Touch of Class restaurant says that it was inevitable for the firm to reinstate Nazziwa and give her back her job.” She is hard working and customers love her so much. She is experienced and knows how to handle the emotions of customers. Bringing her back was an easy decision,” she said. 

Frank Obonyo, the Communications Manager of UCU says that Aisha is a respectful person.” I have known her for four years. When she enters the office, she gives us time to finish our work and then she proceeds with her work. We don’t find any difficulty in her accessing our office because she is professional in her work,” he said. 

Obonyo says that her consistency paid off as she got back her job after being laid off by her bosses because of the drastic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nazziwa says that in five years’ time, she wants to gain self-employment and have more financial muscle that will stretch her to greater heights. 

Born to Zziwa Sulaiman and Nandawula Teddy, Nazziwa is a sibling amongst 6 girls and 3 boys. She hails from Buwambo ion Wakiso District.