He’s 27 years old and a cobbler living in Kasagama, Uganda. Lessons for Life through our partner Child Aid Uganda (CHAU) supported Ramathan between 2010 - 2015 when he was out of school without any qualifications or skills. We supported him to finish his secondary school. After completing secondary school, he decided further academic study wasn’t for him and wanted to learn a trade –“I decided to become a cobbler – it's a handy job. Customers like me so much because I polish their shoes, stitch and repair them, and change the soles. If you have an old shoe…it becomes a new shoe.”
Since setting up his own business, Ramathan explained how he’s learned to sew new leather soles onto old, worn out shoes and the success his service has become. “Not everyone is good at English or learning at school. You can learn something like cobbling. An office person needs shoes repairing. I can charge good money.”
Ramathan hopes to save enough for a machine that will allow him to make leather shoes from scratch and in doing so, expand his business. “If I get a machine, I can have leather shoes with rubber soles. I can cut patterns and make the shoe fit properly.”
He’s incredibly passionate too about passing on what he’s learned to other young people in a similar situation to him. He hopes to make enough money to train other cobbling students.
Ramathan’s work ethic and determination not to resort to begging to survive is all the more admirable as he also suffers from a physical disability which makes it difficult for him to walk. He’s adapted though and meets the challenges his reduced mobility presents head on. “My hands are physically fit” he tells us. “I can use my hands. My head is working, my ears are hearing. The problems I have don’t affect me starting up in business. This job has enabled me to sustain myself.
For Ramathan, this support has been life-changing: “LFL and CHAU have improved my life by assisting me towards my studies. Before I was just sitting. I had no ability to continue with studies. LFL helped me to go back to school. I thank you for the work you’re doing, and will do everything I can to fulfil my promise.”