Impact Beyond Borders: A Word from Walter

It is quite easy to under-rate the work you do and water down the achievements you make because most times we focus on “how” big the outcome is. Over time, I have appreciated that fulfillment comes in different ways-be it just affording a meal a day or putting a smile on the face of that burdened person or inspiring someone by your deeds. For the better part of my life, I have often been so drawn into completing what is before me that I have had little time to know how many people are following the work I do. 

It is not until 2022 that I knew our work as Field of Hope is not only appreciated in Uganda, but also in the other countries, notably Kenya, because the approach we employ tended to address challenges that are equally faced by their smallholder farmers. This led to the initiation of a partnership between Field of Hope and God’s Grace For All Nations (GGFAN), a Kenyan Christian Organization with a mission: “That all the 109 tribal groups of Kenya would have access to the Gospel of God’s Love through Jesus Christ.” GGFAN is using agriculture as one of the strategies to transform these communities and spread the Gospel and being a new initiative, FOH has been working with them to develop programs under agricultural department. To track the progress and maintain partnership, GGFAN invited me for a one-week visit to their base in Nyahururu. 

It is fair to say that I was impressed by the progress on the ground. I had the opportunity to interact with the pupils of Little Lambs Academy, who had started implementing agriculture curriculum that looks to embrace using agriculture to teach all other subjects-a model that they borrowed from MST Junior School in Uganda, a beneficiary of FOH Inspiring Students in Agriculture Grant. Their confidence and eloquence in speech were evident, their explanations of the management practices were accurate, and yet they did these with beaming smiles on their faces-a true expression of passion and excitement about agriculture. Other than just agriculture, it was so fulfilling seeing how the board, donor representatives, staff, and the children bonded together in the fellowship of our Lord. The Christian values and morals that have been inculcated in these kids are there to be desired. 

My major emphasis was on the agriculture department, which we helped formulate in 2022. I visited two of the 11 regional agriculture experts, hailing from Kipipiri and Isiolo regions. The 11 experts are tasked with providing extension services, Coops formation and linking the farmers across the regions to service providers and input dealers. These visits gave me a unique chance to offer expert opinions on how best they could strengthen their associations, encouraging them to stay united in pursuit of their goals, and deliver some fundamental recommendations to the organization regarding water crisis, seed-support to the cooperatives and a long-term buffer financial plan. One great initiative that was undertaken by GGFAN as part of the 2022 recommendations is the field days, where many stakeholders across the agricultural value chain showcase their technologies at Namelok Retreat Center. This event allows farmers to interact with these stakeholders and establish connections thus harnessing partnership and linkages. In my presence, we were able to brainstorm on this year’s event slated for 15th and 16th March. We also looked at their demonstration sites, which were doing exceedingly well. 

In effort to build the capacity of the agriculture experts, there was a one-day workshop where financial and extension officers and input dealers discussed the best practices, their products and services. I was happy to share with them about formation, principles, values, challenges, and sustainability of a cooperative, deriving examples from our work as Field of Hope with the farming communities. These discussions helped us to produce actionable solutions to the challenges they are facing. 

This visit also provided space to deepen the relationship between the two organizations-forging ways to further our partnership. We believe with God’s provision and guidance; we can continue to provide technical support to the GGFAN’s Ag. Department, offer supporting role to the primary school agriculture program at LLA, provide leadership training to Pastors and staff at FOH, facilitate exchange visits between the two organizations and collaborate on joint capacity building of organizations’ technical staff. 

I thank God for this opportunity and FOH, and GGFAN for allowing me to participate in this collaboration effort. I have learnt a lot and I believe this will only make both organizations better as we look to impact beyond borders. 

Okullu Walter 

FOH-Ugandan Country Coordinator