Empowering Our Neighbors in Uganda

In November, our cooperatives and students in East Africa hosted their first agriculture conference with neighboring farmers. After years of being invested into, they are now able to share the benefits of the education they have received. Francis Lubega reflects on the event below.

Over time, I have come to realize that education is the best empowerment, and that empowerment is a process which takes time. It also makes me realize how important the time Jesus spent with his disciples was. The disciples needed educated and empowered to take on the work that Jesus was giving them to do—the  great work of opening the eyes of the blind, healing the sick, and setting those in bondage free.

Over two dozen neighbors attended the conference. At the end, their requests were twofold: to come to them when they had questions, and to make the conference an annual event.

Over two dozen neighbors attended the conference. At the end, their requests were twofold: to come to them when they had questions, and to make the conference an annual event.

Similar to the way Jesus educated his disciples, our brothers and sisters from Global Outreach Developments International have been investing in us here in East Africa over a long period of time, educating us and empowering us in a great number of things. Organic farming and eating a healthy diet are two important practices they have shared with us. We had spent a long time practicing traditional ways of farming and eating, causing  some great struggles in adopting organic ways of farming. However with consistency and patience on the side of our teachers, and faith on our side, we have now been able to implement organic farming on our own property some years now.

Francis Lubega shares about the process of crop rotation.

Francis Lubega shares about the process of crop rotation.

Our enthusiasm and willingness to continue practicing organic farming is the result of the steady increase of output from our garden. In 2018 the garden output has more than tripled compared to last year’s output. Wow! We are producing almost every food color which contributes to a healthy diet, and our garden has become an organic farming model in our area.This is too much! Having experienced this, we couldn’t keep this good news to ourselves. We see that our neighbors also need to see that they can produce enough healthy food to support their families, just as we have been experiencing.

With the same kind of inspiration Jesus’ disciples received through the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, we invited farmers from our neighborhood to come and see the benefits we have been experiencing in our gardens. Our intent was to share with them the good news that has allowed us to preserve our soil, grow more and healthier food, and to have a greater understanding of the nutritional content of our food. The seminars took place on November 17th and 24th with 12 local farmers in attendance. It was a wonderful, and we loved having the opportunity to share with them. The spirit of our God gave each one of us as hosts a good measure of ability to do his or her responsibility well, which we believed made the two seminar sessions successful.

Edwin Kasozi shares with guests about how organic pesticides have been benefiting crops.

Edwin Kasozi shares with guests about how organic pesticides have been benefiting crops.

Without considering the order of importance or preference, I, Francis Lubega was responsible for invites, logistics, teaching soil preparation, crop rotation and also served as a translator. Reuben Ndwiga (from Kenya) was responsible for sharing how to make good compost out of the materials we get from our gardens instead of using synthetic fertilizers which kill our soil. Simon Njeru (from Kenya) shared organic ways of controlling pests and disease in our gardens and also highlighted the dangers involved in using chemical sprays on crops, both to the land and human beings. Edwin Kasozi, one of our students at the Institute for G.O.D. East Africa with a focus in agriculture, was then able to  share his step by step process of making organic pesticides and how he effectively uses them in the garden. Musaazi Peter, another student from the Institute for G.O.D. East Africa, did a great job sharing how crop rotation is carried out in our garden. He and Edwin were of great help during the practical garden sessions.

Josephine Ssemakula  was able to share the importance of the different food types necessary for the body and how proportionally they need to be eaten in order to attain good health. She made a good fruit juice (majoritively from our community garden) for them based on what she wanted to teach., She also helped us stay on schedule during the seminars, which can be a difficult task in East Africa. Lawrence Ssemakula did a great job capturing important moments of the seminars through taking pictures and videos. At the beginning of the second seminar he performed a review of the previous content for the attendees to help them secure the information they had received. He did great.

Zabali Deborah serves guest as they arrive for the morning session.

Zabali Deborah serves guest as they arrive for the morning session.

I wanted to end with the following three, for their service deserved greater recognition. Annette Lubega, Nakamya Miriam (Institute student) and Zabali Deborah (Institute student), had all been filled with the spirit of hospitality. By these three, farmers felt very at home. They prepared for our guests a delicious breakfast and lunch and did so all at the right time, working together with Josephine to ensure that the meals served supported the nutritional components of her nutrition classes.

During and after seminar sessions, farmers expressed great appreciation for the opportunity they received to have their eyes opened to a number of new things. They called it honor to have such an opportunity. They also shared that had never experienced the kind of hospitality they had received from our team. When leaving they requested that if it is possible, such seminars should be organized at least every year. They also asked that they be able to come over and seek advice as they try to adopt the new way of growing food they had received slowly by slowly. We of course have opened our doors, and look forward to continuing to help them grow in their knowledge.

After seeing the farmers off, I was able to see the smiles on the faces and the burning joy in the hearts of all those people among us who gave their time and energy to ensure that the seminar was a success. Their efforts had made an impact, leaving them with the joy that comes from giving. It made me think of Luke 10:17 which communicates the joy that comes after working with God to serve others. We have been empowered to serve others.

Great thanks be to God, but also to our co-laborers of G.O.D. International for the way you have empowered us for years through education. May the Lord bless your work!  Also thank you for any kind of support which makes such things to happen. It is a great blessing to us as we also become a blessing to our neighbors.