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Raising the Crops and Raising the Children

By Catherine Rutan, 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow

Posted Aug. 6, 2018

Is the glass half full or half empty? I have reached the halfway mark of my time here in Uganda, and every day I feel as if the Lord is showering me with his blessing and filling my cup beyond measure.

Ryan and I learning how to harvest maizeRyan and I learning how to harvest maize.

My freshman year of high school, I told my sister that I wanted to raise a goat. She told me, "OK, but you need to be ready to be dragged on the ground, laughed at and keep going." That is probably one of the most applicable pieces of advice that I carried to Uganda.

During harvest this week, this was especially true. It has been a wonderful week of learning for me. I learned how to harvest greens and maize, carried a baby on my back and attempted to carry maize on my head in addition to trying some new Luo words.

I was much more excited than Martha (the baby) was to learn how to tie her up to carry to be able to work.I was much more excited than Martha (the baby) was to learn how to tie her up to carry to be able to work.

One of our trainers, Walter, says that I am learning to become an African woman. In reality I can only dream to receive such a compliment to be compared to an African woman.

The only means of transport for about 10 bags of maize from the field to storage was bicycle in Dokolo.The only means of transport for about 10 bags of maize from the field to storage was bicycle in Dokolo.

Being an African woman means being able to carry a ridiculous amount of weight on your head, which really it is the best option available. It means carrying a baby on your back as you work in the field, in your home, ride a boda, cook and do anything else you could imagine. It means plowing, planting and harvesting everything by hand. It means trying to feed and care for not only your own children but others you’ve taken in as well.

We are so proud of Amoletar for following the best practices and working hard to get a great harvest!We are so proud of Amoletar for following the best practices and working hard to get a great harvest!

Ugandan women are the heart of their agriculture system, and agriculture is the heart of the country’s economy. One of the wonderful people whom I work with, Irene, tells me about her aging mother back in their village working hard to keep their family’s garden going with very little help. I see women in the villages we work in from the ages of 20 to 70 raising anywhere from two to 20 children and working on an average of 5 acres of farm land.

Irene and I harvesting in Amoletar.Irene and I harvesting in Amoletar.

What makes me smile the most about these women are the praises they sing to the Lord every step of the way. I personally don’t even deserve to stand in the shadow of these women I get to work with.

About the Author

Catherine Rutan is a 2018 MIAP-Noble Fellow serving in agricultural development roles in Uganda. Rutan is from Spring, Texas, and is a student in the Master of International Agriculture Program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on international development. This fellowship is sponsored in part by the Noble Research Institute.

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