Volunteer Stories: A Word from Timber

I always have a little chuckle when I find myself in places I would have never imagined going. coming from the girl who never got on an airplane till I was 20 years old, and it was to Kenya, Africa. Life begins at the end of our comfort zone!

This trip to Uganda, was to help me gain experience in International Agriculture to help pursue a career in the industry. Although, 10 days before I left, I was hired as the Texas Organic Program Coordinator. I was still determined to go to Uganda. As I wandered myself to Uganda, I really had no idea what to expect other than we were going to be hosting Agriculture teacher training.

I wouldn’t say my job was on the front lines, but maybe more behind the scenes. A little hint from the Lord to let me see the bigger picture. I was behind the face of the camera. Trying to slow time down in a glimpse of a memory. Being behind the camera in Uganda, I witnessed my favorite people dancing and singing to the beat of the music. I was able to catch the love on their faces when they received new material for teaching their children. Capturing the hard work and determination to make sure their students were able to receive all the opportunities they could give them.

My time with Field of Hope at the teacher training was sweet. I met so many sweet faces sitting behind the camera. I loved being able to meet with the teachers on a real note and see their real-life stories. To hear their highs and lows of being a teacher in Uganda.

Traveling to new places can broaden our perspective and help us learn about different cultures and ways of life. It’s amazing how much we can learn from exploring new parts of the world. And even if we don’t travel far from home, trying new things and challenging ourselves can also be a great way to grow and learn.

If you’re remotely curious to hop on an airplane and go to Uganda. Do it! You never know where it will take you!
-Timber, Volunteer ’23

Inspire Me

Inspire me. What does this mean? When I understood it, I wondered how perfectly I can say it.

These are my thoughts as I moved from school to school and looked at the face of these beautiful learners. During the teacher visits I really got an insight on what really happens after teacher training. The busy schedule of running around schools that are miles apart. Why all this, at last I  understood the mission, improving the quality of education is vital for community resilience towards every day challenges like food security, It’s about the impact on every district, every school, the hundreds-thousands of learners who get to receive quality Agricultural education that supports the back bone of this beautiful country Uganda.

These students, our future generation and I felt deep within me I was obligated to share with them something well composed that was fun enough to keep them interested and most importantly inspire them to become the future of agriculture for this country Uganda. So as a team we spoke and shared with the learners concerning various aspects like on the endless opportunities in studying the subject I told them the subject is able to accommodate most of their passions from engineering to economics and animal science, we all have a space to fill. We continued to talk about goals, encouraged each one, of them to choose a career goal and work towards it. We talked about employment and I said with this knowledge (agriculture) the first employer is self-employment and a long list of agencies ministries farms, schools and universities who will always want to hire agriculture experts/professionals in the different fields. I told them I would be happy to meet them in future when they can testify on the benefits, I also continued to tell them it was good to work and contribute directly to food and nutritional security together with economic development. Not forgetting that they could still carry on with their different career objectives and do agriculture on the side.

As an agriculture teacher I used different approaches for every class every school of how we started and covered the career talks with learners, some were very enthusiastic there by participated actively, some learners already had career objectives and a few had made some research about the possible opportunities in agriculture. With the team we also had question and answer session to allow learners inquire more concerning their issues and topics we had covered earlier, and everyone was glad to answer to these questions. And by the time we left I believe the learners were happy and inspired since was a young person who shared about myself and how I got around.

Our mission as Field of Hope obligates us to inspire youth to develop interest in agriculture, who get to receive knowledge and skills that give them food security and jobs. People like us employed by Field of Hope inspire and guide them about the wonderful futures that await them so that we can foster food and nutritional security together with economic independence in the long run there by we passionately  promote youth agricultural education in rural the communities of Uganda. Lastly I believe that Field of Hope as an organization may not provide food but rather  seed that will secure the future of food security for millions of Ugandans–for generations to come.

-Akwero Hilda, FOH Volunteer ’23

Our ISAG Journey: St. Gracious Secondary School

Hi; I am Emmanuel Opio, a teacher and Head of Department for Agriculture at St Gracious secondary school Lira. In today’s era, practical learning is absolutely necessary, especially in the vocational and pre-vocational subjects which includes agriculture. In my homeland, Uganda,
agriculture rings the loudest bell, being the back bone of the economy, due to its ability to employ over 80% of the citizens and uphold food security. So, it is in the best interest of many schools to have many agricultural projects that support hands on learning. This may present shortcomings in different ways but most commonly, finances. The good news is that some schools including St. Gracious secondary school were able to get a lift financially and that is what I would like to share with you today. At “SAGRASS” we now have a fully running poultry project where our learners freely interact with and are able to see and touch everything they learn about poultry and this was made possible by the grant given by Inspiring Students of Agriculture Grant (ISAG) under Field of Hope. The ISAG grant was to the tune of 1000 US dollars from which we were able to buy the stock, feeds, equipment, medicines and vaccines. I got to know about Field of Hope through a social media forum after which I applied for teacher training program. During the training, we were guided on how we could apply for the Field of Hope ISAG grant.

That was in the year 2023. We wrote our project proposal which was approved after scrutiny by Field of Hope staff . We later wrote a business plan, submitted and were approved by Field of Hope followed by a feasibility visit (assessment of the school readiness to host the project) by their staff. This was followed by signing of the memorandum of Understanding between school and Field of Hope. The grant was released into the school account. At St. Gracious secondary school, we started rearing 254 chickens from chick stage that provided a comprehensive learning experience for our students. The breed we keep is a mixed, dual-purpose. We are having a steady progress with a few challenges which are learning areas for the students.

We hope to have a 20% increase in the number of birds by the next stocking. The success of the Field of hope project funded by ISAG at our school is basically attributed to the strict observation of rules by the students in the management areas of feeding, parasite and
disease control, biosecurity and general housing conditions. The project has changed a lot if things already, from making learning easy and real to igniting interest of students and even teachers to practically take up poultry farming. All poultry related lessons are all being conducted from within the premises of the poultry house. The project has enhanced hands on experience and has encouraged practical learning.

The students are self-motivated in doing the project work and surprisingly we have already witnessed a rise in the number of students leaving other optional subject for Agriculture. It has stimulated some students to start their own at home which has greatly impacted the community like on one occasion the deputy of the school requested for the breeders contact and ordered his stock immediately, since he already had the structure.

On behalf of St. Gracious secondary school I would like to acknowledge the support of Field of Hope ISAG grant and confirm that it is really helpful to the learners, staff and the community out there and for the first time I feel like a great teacher. You are really doing a big job in the move to ensure sustainable agriculture for a stable global food security.

BRAVO, Field of Hope! BRAVO, ISAG.