KAMPALA, UGANDA – Mary lived on the same small plot of land in her rural village in Uganda for 50 years. It was where she raised her children, grew her family’s food, and where she buried her husband when he died. As she grew older and frailer, she spent more and more of her days there, sitting in the open doorway of her one-room house.
A powerful neighbour was watching Mary age, and he made plans to quietly seize her little patch of land when she died. He was a wealthy traditional healer in their village, and well known in the community for his influence.
But when Mary’s adult grandson and his family came to stay with the elderly widow, the neighbour realised his plans were at risk. He grew angry and had his sons threaten Mary’s family with violence. He took over parts of Mary’s land for his own farm. He even used his influence to gain support from the local police, who tried forcing Mary to sign an agreement to leave her home.
Mary recalls kneeling down in her dusty front yard and praying someone would help her. Fortunately, the Local Council leader of her village, who had been trained by IJM Kampala on defending widows from property grabbing, heard her story and called IJM for help.
“I cried out to God in my trouble,” Mary says. “When IJM took on my case, I felt that God had brought me a rescuer...I realised there are people who care, and I became optimistic.”
“Mary and her family are extremely happy and relieved,” says Geraldine Kabami, the IJM attorney who defended Mary. “They will not have to be scared to cultivate their land or fear that any day someone may come and evict them from their home.”
“I am so full of joy and happiness,” Mary told us. “I can never tell you how grateful I am that I am able to stay in my home. Now I know that not only am I safe, but my grandson and his family will have a home even after I am gone.”
She added joyfully, “Thank you for fighting this fight for me.”
International Justice Mission is a global organisation that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems.Find out more