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Little Lessons in the Garden

By Iliana Rodriguez, 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow

Posted Jun. 23, 2018

This week was wonderfully busy. We built shade nets, visited the classroom, played with students, visited women’s group gardens, transplanted cabbage. And, at the end of the week, I got bitten by a giraffe.

Additionally, this week there was a youth group in town visiting Uganda for a week. The youth group, called “The Junkyard,” is from Prairie Ridge Church in Iowa. It is directed by Brandy, co-founder of Field of Hope.

To start the week, we traveled to Restoration Gateway to repair a shade net that had been down for a few month.

The shade net at Restoration Gateway before we started repairing it.The shade net at Restoration Gateway before we started repairing it.

Students weed the beds in the completed shade net.Students weed the beds in the completed shade net.

On Tuesday, we headed to Calo Me Lare to build a shade net. We invited a few members of the youth group to join us.

There was so much work to get done and not enough tools to use. However, that did not stop us from being resourceful.

Elijah and I use a branch to dig a hole for a shade net postElijah and I use a branch to dig a hole for a shade net post.

Along with the team from the U.S., some employees from the children’s garden helped us complete the shade net. The employees from the children’s home are local Ugandans. They questioned us as to why we were digging the hole for the post 3 feet down. They continued to say we could always trim the post so we wouldn’t have to dig so deep. I answered their question by saying, “If we cut the post and do not dig the hole deep, sure we will save some time. But when a big rainfall comes down, so will the shade net. If we do it right the first time, then we will not have to do double work some other time.” A man responded, “Ah, you all are very smart. Do it right and you don’t have to do it again.” It’s little lessons like these in the garden that have the greatest impact on a person.

The youth group and local Ugandans helped construct the shade net for the children’s garden at Calo Me Lare.The youth group and local Ugandans helped construct the shade net for the children’s garden at Calo Me Lare.

The students at Calo Me Lare gathered to watch us build the shade net.The students at Calo Me Lare gathered to watch us build the shade net.

On Wednesday, we went to Alebtong district. We spent the day measuring a total of four gardens from the district.

exampleWe measure a garden in Alebtong district.

Apart from working with the children’s gardens, my favorite part of this internship has been field visits. I enjoy getting to meet these women and their families and visiting their gardens and homes.

Flor grows sunflowers in her garden.Flor grows sunflowers in her garden.

On Thursday, we joined the youth group as they headed to Bar-Lonyo.

Bar-Lonyo students welcome us with singing.

While we were there, we helped transplant cabbages.

Some of the youth group help transplant cabbages at Bar-Lonyo.Some of the youth group help transplant cabbages at Bar-Lonyo.

We also enjoyed some play time with the students. The youth group brought some cool toys to share and give to the students at Bar-Lonyo.

Some of the Bar-Lonyo students blow bubbles.Some of the Bar-Lonyo students blow bubbles.

Jump rope is a favorite activity among the students.

I taught the Bar-Lonyo students how to play the game duck, duck, goose.

At the end of the week, Friday, I had the opportunity to visit a zoo in Entebbe.

Getting bitten by a giraffe was not so bad.Getting bitten by a giraffe was not so bad.

Just like that, this eventful week is over! I cannot believe I only have three more weeks in Uganda. Where has the time gone? There is still so much that I can do here.

About the Author

Iliana Rodriguez is a 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow serving in agricultural development roles in Uganda. Rodriguez is from Laredo, Texas, and is a student in the Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on agriculture outreach, extension and education. This fellowship is sponsored in part by the Noble Research Institute.

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