It was a great week! I got the opportunity to travel north to Lira with the folks from Field of Hope. They are a nonprofit that focuses on agricultural development in Northern Uganda. It is made up of John Deere retirees and employees. This last week we conducted trainings on postharvest loss with women's groups in four different districts: Amolatar, Alebtong, Apac and Dokolo. The trainings covered proper harvesting, handling and storing of crops and were conducted in the local language. It is estimated that around 40 percent of total yield is lost during these times. This is a huge loss that impacts the lives of so many in this region.
Alice and Margaret listening to the training in Amolatar
The venues for the training ranged from a thatched-roof church to an outdoor classroom under a tree. This was the second round of trainings provided by Field of Hope to the women. The first one covered land preparation, planting, soil health and pest management. They will continue to offer trainings to the women's groups as well as refresher courses every planting season.
Outdoor classroom at Apac
The women we met this week were so nice and welcoming. We interviewed several of them to get baseline data to later determine the effectiveness of Field of Hope's work. Through these interviews, I learned that most women had at least four children with some as many as 16. They struggle to provide enough food for their families before harvest time because they have sold their crops to pay for school fees and no longer have any personal supply. Everyone in this area has the same struggles and are at the mercy of the weather to provide for their families. Hopefully these trainings will help to increase their yields and reduce postharvest loss.
The women of Apac singing and playing kazoos they fashioned from papaya branches
After the four days of trainings, we headed to Karuma to visit Restoration Gateway, a children's home in the area. On the way, we made a lunch stop at Chobe National Park. The ride into the park was amazing! We saw around 30 giraffes, monkeys, kob, deer, baboons and an elephant. It was my first time to see giraffes in the wild, and they were incredible so beautiful! We ate at a lodge on the Nile and watched the hippos and birds while we ate. The lodge was so elegant and nice. The extreme contrasts of the "haves" and the "have-nots" in Uganda is a little hard to process.
The giraffes at Chobe
Once we finished lunch, we toured the Restoration Gateway Campus outside of Karuma. Currently they are home to 110 orphans from Northern Uganda and are looking to improve their agriculture program. They are growing maize, groundnuts, and other vegetables for consumption in the homes. Field of Hope plans to assist them in their project. Restoration Gateway is also in the process of building a state-of-the-art 180-bed hospital for the people in northern Uganda. Medical care is very limited, and this will provide a much needed service.
We got to meet some of the children and eat in one of the houses with the house mom and eight children. They were so sweet! There is one house that is dedicated to the five babies at Restoration Gateway. One baby came to them after being abandoned by the mother at the weight of only 1.4 kilograms (about 3 pounds). They named her baby Miracle because they did not believe she would survive at first with the limited medical care in the north. Although she is tiny, she is doing well. Restoration Gateway is truly doing some wonderful things in the north.
Baby Miracle so tiny!
Me and Baby Ruth
Photos courtesy of Lianna Sholz