Watoto employs close to 50 farmworkers at three farms. The farmworkers are usually from the community and have been given a lot of opportunity for growth, both personally and professionally, by working at the farms. Getting to know some of the farmworkers has been one of the best parts of this entire experience. The work they do is sometimes very hard and labor intensive, and the farms could not run without them. I have loved getting to share life with them and just simply getting to know them. Sometimes language is a barrier, but I think friendship can still be transmitted and obtained despite language barriers.
This week I want to highlight a few of the farmworkers I have gotten to know over the past couple of months. Though there are many more workers that I am not able to feature, here are a few:
Joseph from Buloba Chicken Farm
Buloba Chicken Farm
Joseph has worked at the chicken farm for six months, and he worked at the Lubbe farm previously.
Joseph helps at the chicken farm as a storekeeper, doing everything that can be done. He does digging, helps make feed, helps in the chicken barn and helps with milling of maize flour. His favorite work to do is planting. He has been given the opportunity to be in charge of the digging and planting, making decisions on what will be planted. He says it has been great training experience for him, and he has been able to help other farmworkers learn how to space crops and how to mix manure. He has been able to go to training to see examples of other successful farming methods.
Joseph lived in one of the Watoto villages as a child. He said Watoto helped him and his siblings when they were very young and now he is able to help give back to a place that has given so much to him. Joseph said there is a saying in Watoto: "We have to give back." Working on the farm is his way of giving back. He says he has gained a lot and can help support his siblings and help support his stepmother. He has recently been able to buy a piece of land for himself and hopes to begin building on that sometime in the near future. Joseph thanks God for what He has enabled him to do. He said that he would not have been able to do anything without the help of his Heavenly Father.
Bossiboe from Lubbe Vegetable Farm
Lubbe Vegetable Farm
Bossiboe has worked at Lubbe for close to two years.
Bossiboe works with irrigation, digging and sometimes harvesting crops when needed.
I have helped Bossiboe when delivering food to the villages each week. He is a hard worker and always thanks me for the little bit of help I lend when carrying the food from the truck to the house moms.
In addition to the ways Bossiboe helps the farm, I asked him how working at Lubbe has impacted or helped him. He told me that the farm has impacted him in many ways. He said that by working at the farm, his home life has been impacted in a positive way. Bossiboe has three children and working at the farm helps him bring in enough income to send his children to school. Every child has to pay to go to school here, no matter how poor or how rich. If your parents don't have the money, then you simply cannot go to school, so it really does mean a lot to parents to have a job that provides enough to send their kids to school. Secondly, Bossiboe says that his work at the farm has taught him a lot of skills, such as irrigation, that have helped him grow professionally and could be used for the foundation for other skills. Lastly, he said that the farm has given him friends. There are many workers and many have become very close friends, something that can clearly be seen when visiting the farms.
Patrick from Subbi Goat and Dairy Farm
Subbi Goat and Dairy Farm
Patrick has worked at the goat farm for two months.
Patrick is currently preparing to be the new farm manager. He already had dairy goat farming experience and was very eager when he heard about the job. He said it is very rare to see a goat farm in Africa, and he has been very excited to learn what the new job can teach him. Currently he helps supervise the other farmworkers and helps make sure things are running correctly around the farm. One of the biggest things Patrick said he has learned about being here is "that ladies can work." The current farm manager is a woman and has done a great job running the farm over the past few years and has been doing a lot to teach Patrick about managing the farm. He has realized by being here that women can do just what a man can do. Learning from the current manager, Patrick has come to admire and respect women in a new way.
This job has impacted Patrick in that he is leaning new things every day. More than he expected. He is learning a lot about organization and keeping records. He has said he has learned a great deal about efficiency and making things run more smoothly. He is extremely happy to be working here and is very eager to learn whatever he can. Patrick is extremely passionate about the work he does and is very thankful for the work he is able to do through Watoto.
Hilary Gibson is a 2015 Noble-Watoto Fellow working at Watoto Child Care Ministries in Uganda. Gibson is from Shawnee, Oklahoma, and has one more semester left in the master of international agriculture program at Oklahoma State University, where she focuses on trade and ethics.