The walls of Cissy Buuza’s pharmacy and medical clinic in Iziru, Uganda, are lined with items to treat almost any ailment. There are menthol tablets for sore throats, vitamins, and children’s cough syrup. In a glass display case, she keeps menstruation products, pain medication, and treatments for the flu. Even more inventory is packed in boxes in the back, in a small room where she also sleeps. In a drawer, she keeps her stethoscope to examine patients, who at busy times line up in a row of chairs just inside her home-turned-clinic.
Cissy, who has a nursing degree and is just 26 years old, is the only female practitioner in Iziru. She’s proud of this accomplishment — women patients like to visit her because she’s easy to talk to and discreet. Cissy is also proud of her mother, Mangalena Nsaiga, a smallholder farmer who helped her achieve this once-impossible dream.
Cissy grew up in a nearby village, the oldest of Mangalena’s four children. Harvests were small, and the family often rationed food to one meal a day. Cissy managed to put herself through nursing school but had trouble finding work after she graduated. For a while, she was an assistant in another pharmacy, but business was bad and her employer didn’t pay her regularly.
Then in 2015, Mangalena heard about One Acre Fund. She was skeptical at first, so she only purchased small amounts of seeds and fertilizer. She followed the planting instructions exactly as taught during training sessions. Soon, to her surprise, her maize was growing healthier and stronger than ever before.
The next two seasons, Mangalena bought more inputs so she could apply One Acre Fund practices on a larger portion of her farm. Her harvest kept climbing, finally reaching 10 bags of maize on just a half-acre plot, the most she’d ever seen. For the first time, the family had enough to eat and income left over. Mangalena knew exactly how to spend it. She gave the money from her harvest to Cissy, who used it to open her pharmacy.
“It was difficult for me to open this shop because I didn’t have money, but my mother paid the rent,” says Cissy, who had dreamed of being a nurse since primary school. “Now people admire me because I’m a young woman and I have my own shop. I feel good. I’m unique.”