I have now been living in Uganda for six weeks. I honestly do not know where my time has gone. It seems as if I just got here, and now I am fixing to leave soon.
As usual, my week in Uganda was eventful. The highlight was a visit to the children’s garden in Barlonyo. I truly enjoyed working in the gardens, especially when the children were out there helping.
On Thursday, we started transplanting onions around 10 a.m. The weather was fair until it began getting closer to the afternoon. Then it got extremely hot and the children lost their motivation to continue transplanting.
Students were constantly questioning if I was tired and if I was hot. I responded, "No, I am not tired. I enjoy working in the garden."
While all the students were standing around, I proceeded to initiate one of my "motivational agriculture" speeches in the garden by asking them: "What is the beauty of agriculture? Why do we plant onions, cabbages, pineapples and everything else around this garden?"
One student responded, "So we can make some money."
Another responded, "So we can eat."
I replied, "Yes, that is it. We want to eat, right?"
Everyone responded, "Yes!"
I answered, "Then we need to appreciate and see the beauty of agriculture, even if it involves working outside while it’s hot. Agriculture is a gift that just keeps giving. It gives us everything from a source of income to food to eat to a place to live."
I later explained to the students how Ryan and I traveled on an airplane for 20 hours just so we could visit and work in gardens like theirs. They were all so impressed.
Following that, we started to sing a song in the garden and continued to work. I noticed that students were then really excited because suddenly I had students on each side of me, and in the front and back of me, happy to be transplanting onions.
It reminded me of one of my favorite quotes: "A child’s mind is like a sponge." Children are always prepared to soak in all the knowledge they can. I hope I was able to make some kind of small impact on their perception of agriculture and planting.
Singing in the garden.
Irene instructs the students on how to transplant an onion.
Students help pull out the onions seedlings.
Students hold some onions seedlings.
Students transplant onions.
Students place seedlings in the rows.
Students transplant onions.
Small group photo after transplanting.
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.