Hi Reddit, we are Betty Akello, Betty Auma, and Charles Omagur. All three of us are from villages in rural Uganda and all three of us have received a direct cash grant from GiveDirectly of $1,000, no strings attached, sent in three payments.

GiveDirectly called us, after randomly choosing us from among tens of thousands of recipients, and we have each volunteered to share our stories. Our answers are being translated by GiveDirectly staff members Noah and Theodora. Here’s a bit more about us:

Betty Akello -- I’m 31 years old, and I live with my husband Wilson, aged 35, in Olwa village. We have six children, three boys and three girls. We received our first token payment in April 2016, which we used to buy household items like bedding, and three piglets. We used our first and second lump sum to buy land that cost 2.5M UGX and the remaining was used to pay school fees and scholastic materials for our children. Our future plan is to expand our farm activities and build a house in the plot of land we bought.

Betty Aumo -- I’m 23 years old, and I live with my husband Peter, aged 32, in the Magara village. We used our first transfer to purchase home items like beddings and paid for medical bills. We used our second and final transfer to build an iron-roofed house, a cow for milk production, and better quality seeds for their garden. We are looking forward to earning income from the cow we bought through sale of milk. Our future plan is to buy more cows and be able to supply milk in the community.

Charles Omagor -- I’m 30 years old, and I live with my wife Elizabeth, aged 24, in Kaleu village. We have four children, three boys and one daughter. With our token transfer, we renovated the roof of our grass-thatched house that was leaking, and constructed a second one With our first and second lump sum transfer, we bought four cows and opened up a retail shop in our trading center where we earn an income. We also bought a small piece of land in the center where we plan to construct a rent house. My future plan is to engage in commercial agriculture and educate all my children.

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Comments: 97 • Responses: 24  • Date: 

marianattestad34 karma

What have been the impacts of other nonprofits to your villages in the past?

GiveDirectly32 karma

Charles: I have not received any donations from any other NGOs except for the nets given out by the government which have helped us.

cuddly_shy_guy23 karma

How long is the charge like in one of them nokia badboys?

GiveDirectly44 karma

Betty Akello: It takes me about 30 minutes to fill my battery. It lasts for about 3 days.

cuddly_shy_guy27 karma

Does it have Snake?

GiveDirectly64 karma

Betty Akello: It does! It actually has the game of Snake on it and keeps the children playing with it.

ea2u17 karma

What do you think of the people who donate to you? What do you think of Americans in general?

GiveDirectly67 karma

On the people who donate:

Betty Akello: I would like those people to live forever and ever.

Charles: If there is a way, my feeling is for them to come to my village and I would give them chicken to say thank you for everything they’ve done for us.

Betty Auma: I would like God to bless them abundantly so they can continue supporting everyone in need and take care of them.


How would you compare the impact of a program like GiveDirectly with other charity efforts, and do you think this will be a model for UBI in the first world later?

What kind of overhead costs does GiveDirectly have compared with normal charities?

GiveDirectly9 karma

Charles: It is possible to use this program as a model program because we’ve already tested the model and people have already received the money. They are already organized. And they can receive money for long periods of time.

Worldbasicincome15 karma

Have the transfers caused envy in the community?

GiveDirectly28 karma

Betty Akello: They are happy because many people benefited from the money.

Charles: Those who didn’t get were not angry. Those who were not eligible to get the money understood why.

Worldbasicincome13 karma

Have you saved any of the transfer?

GiveDirectly27 karma

Charles: As soon as I learned GD was coming to our village, I had already started planning what I’d like to do with the money. I already knew what I wanted - I wanted to buy land, houses. As soon as the money came, it was just a matter of buying those things. No I did not save any money.

GiveDirectly23 karma

Betty Auma: Even before I learned I was a recipient, I wanted to buy my cows and a household [of items]. When I received the money, I just started planning how to buy these things. No I didn’t save any money.

GiveDirectly22 karma

Betty Akello: Since already my aim was to buy my own plot of land. As soon as I became a recipient, I thought about how to buy a plot of land. No I did not save any money.

GiveDirectly212 karma

Another question from Paolo Cisneros on facebook: "For all three, have these transfers allowed you to work toward longer term goals that would have otherwise been the case? If so, what are those goals?"

GiveDirectly23 karma

Charles: These transfers have helped us make longer term plans. Why? Because now we’ve got the money, you buy the land, grow something, and know that at the end of the season, you’ll have something to eat. The transfers have made it possible for me to start planning for my children’s futures so that they can finish their education and get ahead in their life.

GiveDirectly16 karma

Betty Akello: These transfers have given me the thought that I need to plan for my children. I would like to build an iron roof on my house on the plot of land that I’m planning to purchase.

GiveDirectly212 karma

Question from Tam Sue on facebook: "Do you feel the transfers have helped your community become more connected in a positive sense?"

GiveDirectly12 karma

Betty Auma: Because the transfers of GD have helped people, we don’t have any more quarrels in the village because people are more cooperative.

Betty Akello: People are more peaceful because there are those with motorbikes which they use for business. Then there are those who sleep in iron roof houses - there are no more reasons for quarrels.

rootknots10 karma

How did you feel when you first found out that you could receive money from GiveDirectly? Was there anything that you wanted to use the money for right away, but changed your mind about?

GiveDirectly16 karma

Charles: My first thought was to build grass thatched houses and that’s what I did.

Betty Akello: My first thought was to buy a plot of land with the money and that’s what I did with the money I received.

Betty Auma: My first thought was to build an iron roofed house and that’s exactly what I did because the grass thatched house was a little bit complicated for me.

GiveDirectly10 karma

Charles: I was so happy, I was overjoyed to learn that I was going to be a recipient of these transfers.

Radu4710 karma


I was wondering: how have the cash transfers impacted you and your loved ones emotionally? We often assess the impact in terms of measurable qualities but it would be lovely to hear about the less tangible elements. Does it lead to greater harmony within your inner circle? Do you feel much more at ease? Is it fair to say that the cash transfers facilitate a sense of well being?

Thank you all for doing this AMA :)

GiveDirectly26 karma

Charles: This money has helped us and we are happier because we had money to buy 4 cows, to raise my children better, I have bought land. Generally the whole family is in a better place. I feel relaxed enough because now the children are drinking milk.

Worldbasicincome8 karma

Is it better to give 100 people $10 or 1 person $1000?

GiveDirectly13 karma

Charles: It will be better to give 1 person 3.5 million Ugandan shillings [$1000] so I can plan better for the future.

Betty Auma: It will be better to give one person [$1000] because that means someone can do what they desire as opposed to just receiving [$10] and not doing anything with it.

GiveDirectly6 karma

To the general question "how did you spend your transfer":

Auma: I spent my first transfer on household items. I bought a mattress, a bed, and piglets. The next transfer I spent on buying land.

Charles: I spent my first money on buying house. The next money on cows and last transfer on land.

Akello: So I spent the first money on household items like mosquito nets, mattress, bed. Next money on building a house. Last transfer I received was on completing my house and medical bills.

Worldbasicincome6 karma

Hi - how much have you been helping people from neighbouring villages?

GiveDirectly16 karma

Charles: I’m helping them in such a way where on my land, I started up a small business and have extended the products and services to them because I serve things like posho to them, and that is good. I sell merchandise like corn flour, books, sugar, like that.

GiveDirectly25 karma

Question from Paolo Cisneros on facebook: "Have your transfers had an effect on your mental health or stress levels?"

GiveDirectly14 karma

Betty Auma: This money has helped me to relax. I’m not as stressed as I was. Now I have money to buy things for the house. I have money to pay the bills. When I conceived, I was sick and it helped me pay my medical bills.

GiveDirectly24 karma

Question from Brenna Adel on facebook: "if you were able to create your own program to help your community, would it look like givedirectly? or do you have other ideas that you think would better help your circumstances?"

GiveDirectly7 karma

Betty Akello: I would do more or less the same as GD. When funds come, I would distribute them equally with all the members so no one is cheating the other.

GiveDirectly7 karma

Charles: The beauty of GD is that they give money straight into recipients hands. Though if I was to start an organization, it would be different.

GiveDirectly23 karma

Another question from Jon David Lutz on facebook: "Any plans to for solar electricity, m-Kopa?"

GiveDirectly5 karma

Betty Auma: I have not heard about M-Kopa/Solar yet.

Betty Akello: Right now, I do not have the money to buy but as soon as I get the money, I would like to get solar in my house.

GiveDirectly5 karma

Charles: It would be a good idea because when I build my iron roofed house. I would like to have light in it and solar is a very good idea. I have heard about M-Kopa and when I have money I will go to them to buy solar materials.

Worldbasicincome3 karma

Does everybody in the village know that you received the money and how much?

GiveDirectly5 karma

Betty Auma: The whole village knows that I received money and that I received 3.5million shillings.