Nuwamanya washes clothes for a living

Joel Nuwamanya came to Kampala seven years ago after completing his O-Level in Ibanda.

The 24-year-old, full of dreams and determination, embarked on an unconventional journey.

Born into a modest family, he says his upbringing was characterized by struggles.

“We never had a lot to eat at home even finding school fees was a struggle,” he says.

With limited opportunities in Ibanda and a burning desire to create his own path, he decided to leave for Kampala where he first ended up at a friend’s home.

His friend used to wash clothes for neighbors to make ends meet, so naturally Nuwamanya joined him.

They operated in the areas of Namugongo, Kira, Kyaliwajjala and Ssonde in Wakiso district.

All they needed was energy because the people they washed for clothes provided the water, soap and detergent.

Depending on the material of the cloth, they charged between Shs 1,000 and Shs 3,000 for items like towels and jeans.

“It was hectic and tiresome. Sometimes you could wash until you developed sores on the hands,” he said.

His friend decided to quit the trade, leaving Nuwamanya on his own.

“The most important thing in this job is to be trustworthy and do wash well,” he says.

“Some people leave money in trousers but you have to show them that you are different and trustworthy.”

He says his clients are usually corporate young men and women who have no time to do chores like washing.

Since he has so many clients, Nuwamanya says on a given day, he on a given day he washes at least 50 pieces of clothes. This means he makes between Shs 25,000 and Shs 50,000 a day.

“But this is hard earned money. I wake up by six and begin my rounds of washing clothes. Sometimes the hands hurt so much but you have nothing to do,” he says.

For clothes with tough fabric like jeans, he uses gloves and a brush.


However, success has not come without its hurdles.

He says some customers don’t want to pay in time yet the job is tiresome.

He says some people look down upon him because of the work he does.

“They think we are so needy but what they don’t know is that we make some good money,” he says.

From his work, he says has saved some good money which he hopes to invest in a retail shop.

He says he wants to set up a modern dry cleaner and laundry business in future.


He says young people must be resilient and trustworthy if they are to succeed.

“In life there will be obstacles but you must not give up. You have to find ways of overcoming them,” he says.

Nuwamanya also stresses the value of innovation and adaptability.

In a rapidly changing world, he believes that embracing creativity is essential for survival.

“Don’t be afraid to think outside the box,” he encourages, “and be willing to change when necessary,” he says.

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