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Wandar: Affordable housing for all is my dream

By Eriah Lule

Proper housing is everyone’s dream, but for Nina Mirembe, a 53-year-old widow and resident of Kasokoso, in Banda, Kireka along the Kampala-Jinja Highway, 5km from the capital, that seems like a long-lost dream.

Unlike during the dry season, when Mirembe only has to worry about feeding her children, the rainy season is a never-ending nightmare due to the leaking roof on her mud and wattle house, which forces them to spend nights cocooned in safe corners for shelter.

Boxes and old rusted iron sheets are filling stubborn cracks and crevices that are defacing Mirembe and her five children’s home, but hundreds more are in the same situation.

Tatiana sharing her story during the Alumni Dinner in Mbale City

A report from the ministry of land, housing, and urban development has estimated that 49% to 64% of the total urban population lives in slums, apparently brought about by the increasing rate of rural-urban migration in search for a better life.

According to Uganda Bureau of Statistics statistics, 4.8 million people in the city may be homeless by 2025. 

As a result, Tatiana Joan Wandar, a 30-year-old Uganda Christian University (UCU) alumnus, has begun her long-awaited dream of providing affordable housing for people like Mirembe. 

The budding company, Wanda Villages Limited, an architect, design, and construction company located in Ntinda, aims at solving bad housing. Currently, the company is looking into designing affordable homes for low-income earners.

Wanda Villages Limited plans to cut residential costs by establishing units that will run for as low as Ugx15m compared to the Ugx28m norm.

This speaks to Wandar’s passion: “I feel like it’s more of being a solution-based person than capital-based.”

Tatiana has a very devoted hold of UCU’s core values, which in attribution, she notes, have been at the forefront of her career.

Her childhood story is that of an intestinal cancer survivor. She attributes her healing to God’s grace, who, through constant prayers from friends and family over time, healed her.

“You recall that bible verse when Jesus healed the lepers. Now in 2010 was my year when he visited me too,” she said.

Fast forward, Tatiana was part of Team 12, a non-profit organization that transforms the community through visiting people living in slums as they empower and donate various items to them.

“It is from here that I noticed shelter was a bigger challenge to people living in urban areas, and then I started thinking of the solution,” she noted.

This explains why a Business Administration degree holder developed a passion for construction.

Furthermore, she did research and self-taught through YouTube tutorials. With support from her parents, she collected 3 other team-mates in a bid to develop this idea.

Normally, by virtue of being the initiator, one would think she took leadership of the company. However, for love of creativity, Tatiana decided to go with the position of Product Development Officer.

She credits persistence and resilience as her driving forces. They helped her see the company surface even after COVID-19.

Tatiana, the firstborn of six children to Wanda Paul and Kabuni Grace Irene of Mbale City, is also a certified social entrepreneur from Social Innovation Academy and has managed to mentor many other entrepreneurs all over the world during her online sessions with Startup Mentor.

Tatiana and her friends have come up with a project called Graduate Employed, a program targeting university students to work on projects that will employ them before they graduate, to fight the high levels of unemployment among graduates.

Katto Paul, the Eastern Representative of the UCU Alumni Association and an engineer with Uganda National Roads Authority, asserts that it’s always heartwarming for UCU alumni to always solve problems that society is facing.

“Despite this being an enterprising project, it also stands for UCU’s core value of servanthood,” he said.

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