First week in Watoto
It has been quite a week in Uganda. Jet lag affected me more than I thought... Who knew the nine-hour time difference could make a person exhausted in the early afternoon and wide awake at 2 a.m.? But this is the view I get to wake up to every morning.
I should probably outline more specifically why I'm in Uganda. I am on a fellowship, funded by the Noble Research Institute and Oklahoma State University, to experience and contribute to the sustainability project at Watoto Child Care Ministry, specifically the agriculture department. Watoto Child Care Ministry is housed under a large Pentecostal church based out of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, called Watoto Church. They have incredible children's choirs that perform around the world to raise awareness and funds for the 4,000-plus orphans cared for by the ministry, so you may have heard about Watoto through their well-known choirs.
I was given a tour of one of the children's villages and all the farms yesterday. The village I visited includes "Baby Watoto," where infants are raised together until they are two years old. Each child is then moved into a permanent home of about eight children with a permanent host mother in one of the three villages to be raised through a university or a skill school. The village I visited has 150 homes. It was so sweet to see the little children who were so well behaved. Ruth, the woman in charge of Baby Watoto, insisted that a schedule is important to keep so many kids informed and in line.
At this village is the dairy goat farm. There are approximately 150 goats that are milked daily. All the milk goes directly to Baby Watoto, so the babies don't miss out on important nutrients. I saw some newborn kids, or baby goats, and was informed that they are given colostrum and milk from the couple of dairy cows of Watoto. So, everyone gets their necessary nutrients and love, just from a different source than expected. I appreciate the cohesion among species living together.
About 30 minutes from there is the poultry farm and grain mill. They are currently raising pullets, or young hens, to reach maturity to begin laying eggs. At the grain mill on-site, they make the feed for both the chickens and the goats. They also make corn flour for each home in each village.
The last farm is again at another location. It is approximately 200 acres of cropland. They grow a variety of crops, such as rice, maize, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and more. They use a very hands-on approach at this farm for both cultivating and harvesting. They have hoop houses, which were constructed under the direction of Steve Upson at the Noble Research Institute. In this area, hoop houses control the plants' exposure to the heavy rainfall and moisture, which can encourage disease.
That's a quick overview of my current world.
Emily Jost is a 2015 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Jost is from Edmond, Oklahoma, and is in her final semester in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on sustainable development.