Adventures after Africa: Fields of Hope

After almost three months of living in Uganda and just two months of being back in my home country of the United States of America, I have found reflection, insight, pride, and adjustment beyond measure.

“What a trip you just got back from, how was it?” This question leads many of the conversations I have with individuals aware of my fellowship with Field of Hope. The question I ask myself in return is: How do I describe the greatest experience of my life in a five-minute conversation? Most people expect a simple answer, but frankly, “It was great,” or “really awesome” doesn’t quite do the opportunity the justice it deserves.

In the days leading up to my departure from Uganda I could feel my heart begin to rip into two pieces; part of me ready to go back home and the other part of me not ready to leave home. By feeling this feeling, sometimes expressed through tears, I found it was just material proof that I had made the most of my fellowship. In many of the fellows’ blogs this season we talk about the people, the landscape, the spirt, and the vibrancy of the inspiring country we lived in. I won’t repeat all of that, but know that those feelings in country, don’t stay in country. Rather, those feelings turned into longing and remembrance for me, which was hard to cope with.

Leaving those brothers and sisters ensued a five stages of grief period for me. I felt sadness, heartbreak, and anger, which slowly turned into acceptance, and later pride. I won’t dwell on the beginning stages, but know that if you spoke to me in the first few weeks of my return, I ached. How could God give me a life I loved with people I loved, so far from the place I originally called home? It was a huge adjustment for me in simply digesting foods, recovering my sleep schedule, learning to stay connected with friends who were eight hours ahead of me, and turning my experiences into lifelong perspectives.

Finding outlets to share my stories with, people to relate to, and just having ears to listen, aided me in processing the extreme shock I felt coming back to such a different environment. I had moments where I simply couldn’t face the pressure in my heart because it was so deep. Some of these moments were caused out of the swimming thoughts in my head while others had were due to options at the grocery store, unruly American commentary, wearing jeans, driving my car, using a washing machine, and remembering the vast privileges my country has. I have found it is important to talk about these realities despite the depressing nature.

Moreover, feelings like pride and acceptance have crept into my heart and soul at the same time. The pride I carry throughout my entire body leads me even further each day. I especially know I am capable of hard things: staying positive despite the negativity our world can bring, having hard conversations, and doing anything under Christs sunshine. When I got back, I kept telling people, “Life is hard right now, but for some reason I’m in good spirits.” My fellowship gave me perspective; perspective of agricultural success, equality and equity, relief versus development, empowerment, and simple kindness and humility. I struggled for a while; and then I found things in my world I could enjoy from the African world I lived in. One of those was Christ. Oh how I loved Ugandan church service every Sunday. As seen from my first fellow blog, I was trapped in awe, security, and amazement upon going to an African church service. I found my inner courage recently and faced finding a U.S. church to attend. Though I am still quite early in developing my faithfulness, I only had the passion to seek this because of the adversity and passion I gained from my fellowship.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

Philippians 4:13 “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

Sure, going to a church service once or twice a month doesn’t save me, but it brings me a sense of purpose and service, which I find goes hand in hand with the mission of Field of Hope. This stewardship of cultivating a better humanity drives my current academic and career goals and I look forward to embracing this energy to its core in my life after living in Uganda.

Does that answer your question? Most often when I answer that it takes me to an honest, rambling, daze of a response. Maybe that’s what this blog post is, but in short, my fellowship will shape the rest of my life and has changed me forever.

My adventures after Africa prove to be led with growth and pride, more like a life lined with fields and fields of hope, opportunity, and humility now. I encourage every human to experience an experience like this. If you don’t get to, ask the right questions, and seek your own information about life outside of your bubble. It’s a magical world with so much love and vibrancy. With so much in return from Field of Hope, I can only hope, with a true kind of hope, that you feel this.

By: Sarah McCord, Fellow ’22

 

 

A True Ugandan

“If you’ve spent more than a month in Uganda, then you’re a true Ugandan,” said William, our guide at Sipi Falls. I have officially surpassed William’s 1 month mark, and am onto my sixth week in the country. In my weeks being here, I have traveled, experienced, and learned so many things. From waterfalls in Sipi, the Source of the Nile in Jinja, the best food in Mbarara, and a boat ride on Lake Bunyonyi, my time being in Uganda has been a full immersion  experience.  Though I have had my fair share of tourism experiences, I also think about William’s notion of what encapsulates a Ugandan.

In today’s social and digital age, I find myself only posting pictures of aesthetic, iconic moments; not my daily “life”. Upon writing this, I looked through my camera roll, found nothing that matched such an aesthetic, and felt like I had nothing to share. In reality, I gain something new everyday and have such a full heart of memories to give.

 

For the last two weeks, I have really been making myself at home in Lira. Despite my difference in appearance compared to most residents of Lira, I am beginning to resonate with becoming a true Ugandan. Familiarizing myself with the markets, streets, and familiar faces has made me gain such a residential perspective of life in Africa. There’s something so raw and real about buying everything fresh from the market, seeing friends at church, maintaining our own garden, and going on walks around our neighborhood.

 

To me, Africans and especially Ugandans, embody resilience, strength, and pride in everything they do. While attending church last Sunday with friends at Victory Outreach East, we sang so many songs, calling out to Jesus, “We look to you for love in our country, we do not look to you for riches.” This country asks for love, peace, and contentment, not monetary profit. Though still developing, Uganda has the kindness and strength faded out from many western countries. This is also represented through the symbolism of the nation’s flag: black for the color of its people, yellow for the sunshine, and red for the color of blood the brotherhood shares with the rest of the world. “People from every nation and every tongue from generation to generation,” the Sunday congregation sang. Being a part of such a community gives me more satisfaction and honor to represent Uganda and Christ in everything I do.

 

“For when we have faith in him, we become confident in all circumstances.” 2 Chronicles 16:9.

 

I believe I am already a changed person through my experience in Uganda. Perhaps it’s the difference in the English spoken, or the lack of processed sugar in my food. Nonetheless, I stand taller, I am humbled, and I carry confidence- to me, that’s what being a true Ugandan is. It is embodying the colors of the flag and keeping one foot moving forward at all times, like the crane in the center of the Ugandan flag. Maybe it takes more than a month to gain this, or maybe it just takes the right support system to help cultivate this. I aim to reap more of the energy, confidence, and lifestyle true Ugandans have in the rest of my time amongst them. Here’s to being a Ugandan for one more month!

By Sarah McCord, Fellow ’22

The Art of Storytelling in Qualitative Research: Who gets to share the stories?

The Art of Storytelling in Qualitative Research: Who gets to share the stories?

Telling stories to reveal elements and images of an event is one of the most powerful tools for interactive engagement anywhere. A good story is persuasive and will often elicit a reaction from the reader. Development research embraces the art of storytelling as a way of expressing views in social science and humanities. Originally, this was not the case because the development space was dominated by thoughts on development economics that engaged statistical tools and quantitative methods to show trends. If we are being honest, big organizations love numbers, there is a certain level of predictability to it. But the importance of talking about the people and their experiences often gets lost in the process. Researchers have quickly realized the importance of representing and understanding socio-cultural impacts on the wellbeing of the society, that is why storytelling is crucial.

 

Various authors have embraced storytelling as a form of inciting revolution on any form of injustice, particularly against women. Stories about gender inequality, abuses women suffer, sexual discrimination and many more have come to light because someone was willing to tell the story. Same also, qualitative researchers collect information on perceptions, attitudes, values, and cultures affecting women. These actions have led to transformative events that have led to an awakening for women’s rights to be defended in different ways. But this is not without its own issues. I have come to realize that whoever has the power to tell stories controls the narrative, which forms the basis of how stories can be shared as well as understood. That being the case, you can imagine how critical it is for researchers to emulate the virtues of integrity, transparency, and honesty, to have an accurate depiction of the social issue.

 

I came to this awareness in Uganda while collecting data for my Ph.D. Dissertation. The summary of my research centers on exploring the role of farmer cooperatives in facilitating inclusive agricultural development in Uganda, using the case of the coffee industry. Women occupy the highest labor force in the coffee industry in Uganda, yet they are the most constrained in terms of access to land, extension services, finance and agricultural inputs that limit their productivity. This is often due to patrilineal structures that are advantageous to men in acquiring land. Also, land ownership forms the basis for investments in extension service, inputs, and access to loans. Currently, the government of Uganda is working towards boosting coffee production to 20 million bags by 2030, so my objective is to investigate if the investments being pumped into the coffee industry are accessible to women and if farmer cooperatives serve as a sustainable mechanism to facilitate it.

 

 

I felt a huge burden to represent the stories of these men and women accurately because they trusted me enough to talk to me. I constantly had to be conscious of my own bias and be objective when listening to them. I asked myself a lot of questions to capture the individualism of each group rather than generalize. The issue of reframing and telling stories accurately in bringing awareness to gender issues is important. We all have biases, researcher or not, and biases and prejudices often hinder people from viewing issues objectively. Also, our participants have a voice, no matter how low their voices may seem, but getting to echo their voices through research is a huge responsibility we should carry with utmost respect and integrity. Because story tellers control the narrative, there is a risk of sharing only a single story. As Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche, a Nigerian quintessential writer, says, “the danger of a single story, the one perspective, is that it can lead us to default assumptions, conclusions and decisions that may be incomplete, and may lead to misunderstanding”

Oluwabukola Makinde

Fellow ‘22

 

Reference

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2019). The Danger of a Single Story https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9Ihs241zeg

 

When Multiple Places Become Home

When Multiple Places Become Home

 

On my first night back in Uganda, I wrote in my journal, “You don’t know how much you don’t know until you are standing face-to-face with a world you don’t know.” This statement came after a series of small challenges that left me feeling helpless to understand the directions, processes, and norms that I knew would be the new routine for my stay in Uganda. I remember thinking to myself, “this could not be further from life at home” and “it’s going to take a lot of adjusting to survive these next three months.”

I have traveled to many places that I casually referred to as “home” in conversation. In those cases, a mentioning of home indicated the discovery of things that reminded me of home in a new place. Familiar foods, a similar pace of life, traveling with friends, or concepts that were easily contextualized all made a temporary visit to a new place feel like home. There is a difference between a place that resembles home and a place that is home. Deep down, I know those places are not home.

When I think about the places that actually are home, two locations come to mind–my hometown and my college town. The events that took place in these locations are what make them an actual home. They are the places I grew up, where I gained my independence, learned to take care of myself, and started to stand on my own two feet. They are the residence of the people I love, where my family and dearest friends are guaranteed to be found. They witnessed my biggest milestones, settings where my fondest memories, biggest challenges, and greatest feats all took place. They are the locations I return to time and time again, either physically or in heart, because I know something is waiting there for me.

After two months living in-country, I would add Uganda to the list as the third place I call home. This place is comprised of more than just reflections of my other homes; in fact, in many ways life in Uganda still could not be further from life in my other homes. However, the challenges that caught me off guard on night one have grown into the routine activities that make Uganda home at day 57, and the events that made other places home have happened here as well.

This is how Uganda became home:

A place I grew up – Growing up is not limited just to our youth, but it is a process of constant learning that eventually yields wisdom and independence. Living in a foreign country requires you to start all over in the process of gaining knowledge. The completion of tasks that were once fundamental–like buying food, acquiring transportation, or locational orientation–suddenly become advanced undertakings. Then you must tackle the more complex tasks of understanding historical contexts, cultural norms, and societal expectations. When very little resembles what you are used to, you have to grow up all over again.

The residence of the people I love – In this process of “growing up” in Uganda, there are a few key people that have been present as constant guides. They are the place I turn with all my questions (and they can confirm, there are A LOT of questions); they build my courage when a task feels bigger than me; they are the gentle voice of correction and the source of all my laugher—they are my confidants, my support system, and my friends.

 

   

 

 

The witness of my biggest milestones – There is no doubt that Uganda now holds some of my fondest memories­–car conversations, sliding through Sipi, training teachers, and seeing farmers empowered will forever hold a special place in my heart–but Uganda also holds the story of victory over some of my greatest challenges (we’ll save that conversation for a later post).

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These are the things that make a place home–three places I treasure for the time, people, and growth they offered. Three locations I will return to time and time again, either physically or in heart, because I know something is waiting there for me.

A Strong Vision: Empowering Agricultural Educators

A Strong Vision: Empowering Agricultural Educators

Every year, Field of Hope brings together agriculture teachers from all over Uganda to train them on how best to teach agriculture to students, using FOH curriculum and materials. I have never been to any of such trainings, and I was particularly happy to see and be part of this vision of empowerment. It is no surprise that agriculture is the backbone of the Ugandan economy. It plays a critical role in the economy of Uganda, and it is an important driving factor for economic growth, poverty reduction and food security. Unfortunately, pursuing agriculture is not a lifetime career for most young Ugandans, and varying perceptions of how non-lucrative the sector is, has impacted their interests in agriculture. It is to this view that Field of Hope is dedicated to agricultural development and education among youths and agricultural educators.

This year’s Southern teacher training in Kampala commenced with a bang – particularly because it rained so heavily on the first day, but that did not stop the participants from coming. Our team was so inspired when we saw teachers braving the heavy rain to come to our meeting room, and we knew that we were in for a time of impact.

The training spanned for over three days with facilitators imparting new classroom techniques to increase the interest of teachers as well as students in experiential learning. Some things particularly noteworthy from the training were the classroom management strategies that were taught. One of the management strategies involved engaging positive reinforcements to not only encourage students to participate in class but increase their confidence and self-esteem. In one of the group discussions, some of the teachers pointed out that they understood that their roles as teachers transcended teaching agriculture as a subject, but also, that they had been given an incredible opportunity to invest in the lives of the students which will in turn have a ripple effect on the society.

The teacher training was also a time to rekindle old friendships and foster new ones. The interactive group sessions encouraged teachers to share individual knowledge about urban gardening and agricultural best practices that were successful in their schools. It felt like a community of changed and empowered individuals who were passionate about improving themselves, the experiences of their students, their communities, and their country. The impact of this year’s teachers training might not be quantifiable or immediate, but this is an investment that will have a domino effect for years to come.

 

What a vision! What an impact! What an organization! To enable us to do more impactful work like this in the future, please donate.

 

Oluwabukola Makinde

Fellow ‘22

Shifting Narratives: What the World Sees, What I See

Shifting Narratives: What the World Sees, What I See

What do you think about then you hear “developing country”?

Seriously, stop and think about it.

Look up from your device and try to picture it in your mind.

Think about the environment. What does the country look like? What is the structure of the houses, roads, and cities? How does it sound? How does it smell?

Think about the people. What do they look like? What are they wearing? Where are they and how are they moving around?

If you actually stopped to answer those questions, your mind likely followed one of two paths, both based on personal experience:

Path 1: If you have ever traveled to a developing nation, your mind likely took you back to that place and easily created an image based on what you have seen.

Path 2: If you have never been to a developing nation, your mind likely created its own image informed by what you have heard or observed through media or educational resources.

Neither one of those paths is superior to the other, in fact they are simply the result of natural processes in the brain that seek to build understanding through prior experience. But sometimes, the image our mind creates could not be further from reality.

At the risk of being misunderstood, I am going to be very honest. If you had asked me those questions a few years ago, my response would have sounded something like this:

“I imagine dirt roads and houses structured like huts, made of either sticks or mud. People are walking to get from place to place. There are piles of trash scattered across the ground, clothes hanging outside, and animals grazing at the side of the streets. The sounds are only those made by faint voices or animals in the distance, unless you are at the market, then it is loud and busy.

The people are slim from limited diets. They are dressed in clothes with faded colors that are worn and thin from age. Their eyes look tired, and their faces look stressed from enduring a life of scarcity.”

There is a part of me that is embarrassed to admit that this is the image my mind would have created in the past—a list of assumptions informed only by pictures seen in the news, a narrative formed by promotional stories of aid agencies. Still, there is a part of me that knows this narrative does in fact exist in parts of the developing world and I would like to think that this is a safe space for both truths to exist at the same time.

Narratives have a funny way of changing when we actually live in a place instead of just observing life from a distance. Suddenly, you may come to realize that what the world taught you to see when you think about a certain situation is drastically different from what you see in real life.

When I look at Uganda, even after living here for just a few short weeks, I realize that what much of the world sees when they think about development is not what I see.

They see dirt roads and humble homes, but I see communities built on connection.

They see worn human exteriors, but I see hearts full of compassion.

They see faded clothes and dirty hands, but I see people working hard to provide.

They see a lack of resources, but I see curiosity and innovation.

They see deficient means, but I see joy in all circumstances.

They see strangers living a completely foreign lifestyle, but I see people with the same basic needs as any other human on this planet.

 

By: Bekah McCarty

Adventures in Agriculture: The Road Less Travelled

I’m sure the phrase “the road less traveled,” is not a new saying. I was listening to a speaker some years ago when I first heard that phrase. The speaker was describing how it was important to not follow the crowd, especially since we’re in the days, where standing up for something you believe in seems rare. Apparently, the words of the speaker (which unfortunately, I cannot remember who), resonated with me and clearly left an indelible mark on my mind, especially now that I am writing this.

 

My Christian faith has always influenced how I interacted with the world, and this has often led me on the road less traveled. This saying is once truer as I begin an incredible journey as a Field of Hope fellow this summer in Uganda. My expectations are high, considering having the opportunity to engage with Ugandan women farmers and creating high-impact experiences that will elevate their social economic status. However, I am even more excited to learn more about the Ugandan culture and how these women continue to remain resilient and thrive even in unfair circumstances.

 

There is something intriguing about the road less traveled – the twists, turns, uncertainties, unfamiliar faces and simply the fear of the unknown. But it also presents an incredible opportunity to trust. Yes, trust that God can lead us into spaces that will teach us more about Him, trust that He works all things together for our good, trust that we can give Him our skills, hopes and aspirations and He can use that to impact many lives. That has been my experience so far on this road less traveled, and I know it would not be any different in my time here in Uganda.

 

Being in Uganda for the past one week, I have gotten more ‘smiles and ‘hello’s’ that I could have imagined. I have seen people go out of their way to show me where to purchase things I need. I have learnt few words in “Lango”, one of the local languages in Uganda. The kindness of Ugandans so far has been mind-blowing, and I am excited to see how my journey here pans out.

 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” – Robert Frost.

 

By: Oluwabukola “Bukky” Makinde, Fellow ’22

Adventures in Agriculture: What on Earth am I Here For?

What on Earth am I here for? This question has frequented my conversations lately. Between family and friends, and even within myself. I asked this question to myself during my mid semester crisis before I graduated college just a few months ago. During said crisis, something in me just wasn’t sure what I was made to do. “What’s my purpose?” I asked my mom one day on the phone. While in the midst of my 15 hour flight towards Uganda, I also found my mind wandering towards those questions.

 

Upon being in Uganda, I believe my purpose has more clarity. In the last two weeks of my fellowship with Field of Hope I have experienced and taken in so much good. My travels have gone very smoothly and my immersion into living in country is also going well. Most of my takeaways include absorbing all the scenery, making new friends, and serving my purpose.

 

First, I have truly not seen a landscape quite like Uganda. Lush green everywhere, mixed with colorful flowers, bright red dirt, and rows of crops. While driving the other day I tried to go through all of the ecosystems I learned in biology and I simply can’t choose just one between the mix of dry, swamp, and pine and palm trees. Either way, I’m loving the landscape.

Next, the people. I’ve had such amazing company with me the last couple of weeks. Kindness, heart, and generosity mean a lot; and unexpected friendship is something I often find anywhere I go. To my new dear friend Gloria, thank you for being my house mate for a week. What a short week! From playing cards, to traveling (or mostly sleeping during travel in our case), exploring the market, and teaching me how to properly hand wash my laundry, we have shared SO many laughs. I’ll miss you in the FOH house, but I can’t wait to see you again very soon!

 

Gloria also took me to my first Ugandan church service. We arrived at Victory Outreach Church (main) to find “What on Earth am I here for?” postered all over the church. Next to other signs reading, “We are here for mission, worship, fellowship, growth, and service.” These words meant so much to me as I truly am here in Uganda for each of those. After amazing songs from the choir, and a warm welcome to all the new attendees, we began the sermon. “No matter the language you speak or part of the world you come from, we are no longer strangers and foreigners but fellow citizens with the saints and in the house of Christ.” I’ve never been a big spiritual person, but embracing my faith is something I want to strengthen while in Uganda. This sermon absolutely hit home, and started my journey in faith, and for my fellowship on the right foot.

Combine all those positive aspects of my trip with the passion for agriculture I get to share with others, and I really am living out my purpose. The other day, Nicholas, an FOH staff member and new friend, asked me what my dream job is. I said, “something that lets me travel, be in and out of the classroom, attend conferences, and do a variety of things all while sharing agriculture.” As I said that, I found that I was getting to do exactly that right now. Between gender and nutrition trainings for villages, working on various handbooks and programs, and observing in agricultural classrooms, I believe my purpose is to serve in this very moment each day.

I cannot wait to share with you my journey of faith, agriculture, and more. What on Earth are you here for?

By: Sarah McCord, Fellow ’22

Adventures in Agriculture: Driven by Curiosity, Supported by Commitment

Our visit to Midland High School started the same way most do–the guards meet the car at the front gate, ask who you have come to visit, then welcome you inside to park. A teacher or school staff member brings you to the school office where you either meet with administration or wait until the class you are visiting is settled and ready for instruction to begin.

 

When we drove through the front gate, I was intrigued by the view in front of me. Vegetables fill a garden bed in front of the main building. Tall trees stand in a wide-open field, creating a yard that feels natural yet organized. A path between buildings offers a quick glimpse into an area that is assumed to be filled with additional buildings where class can take place. The school was nice, but nothing so far from the ordinary that I would have assumed what was to come.

 

We followed the path into the school courtyard and were seated on a bench outside the main office building. Soon, we were met by a teacher named Julius who invited us to take a quick tour of the school. Julius is part of a four-teacher team working to provide agriculture education at Midland High School.

 

Our tour started back in the main yard, where he showed us the drip irrigation system used to water the trees. A plastic soda or water bottle with a small hole in the cap hangs on a stick at the base of each tree. After school, the students fill each bottle so the trees receive water during the night but do not loose excess moisture to evaporation during the day. We would later learn that they called this yard “paradise”, a name rather fitting for the lush, majestic yard.

 

 

Working our way back toward the school, we stopped to look at the garden beds in front of the first building. Some gardens are filled with plentiful rows of cabbage, squash, broccoli, and more, however, across the path, sits a garden bed of tomatoes and eggplant that do not appear as healthy. Julius explained that when the plants in the one garden bed started to wilt, the students became curious about what the difference between the garden beds may be. Driven by their curiosity, they tested the soil and determined that the wilt is due to improper soil pH.

Back inside the main school courtyard, Julius noted that most of the landscaping includes agricultural products—apple, banana, and passionfruit trees provide shade, gourds grow along the fences and sides of buildings, and leafy greens grow among the ornamental bushes. Toward the back of the school, large plots of cabbage allow each class to gain experience growing their own crops. A few goats and a cow provide students with hands on experience in dairy production and rows of banana trees allow students from all regions to learn about the staple foods in different parts of Uganda. Each agricultural plant is accompanied by a marker that identifies its local name, English name, and primary use or benefit. This allows students to observe different crops at all stages of growth and consider how the crops aid people both in their communities and around the world.

 

In the back corner of the school compound, one final plot reveals the depth of student curiosity supported by teacher commitment. Students had observed the rising prices of grain on a global scale and had taken special note of the cost some countries are paying to import wheat and sorghum. They asked why these crops were not grown in Uganda and what the financial benefits would be if they could produce their own wheat and sorghum. So, the teachers identified a small plot at the back of the school, gathered some wheat and sorghum seeds, and helped students plant some small crops to observe. They also planted maize right beside the exploratory crops, so students could observe the growth rate, yield, and resource use of their traditional crops right beside the new crops. Here, students are not simply waiting to receive knowledge at their teachers’ pace but are watching as the answers to their questions unfold right before their own eyes.

 

The beauty of Midland High can be found in so many places. Whether walking through paradise, viewing a garden plot, or observing a lesson, the entire agriculture program sings not only of student-centered learning, but of student-driven learning. Equally as enticing as the curiosity of students is the commitment of four teachers working to bring agriculture to life. A day in the program beckons a new anthem for Midland High agriculture—Driven by Curiosity, Supported by Commitment.

 

By: Bekah McCarty, Fellow ’22

Meet Olivia, our New Program Manager

The Field of Hope family continues to grow, as we welcome Olivia Murphy-Sweet to the staff as our Program Manager. In this entirely new position, Olivia will collaborate with our Ugandan staff to implement programs, steward new and existing strategic partnerships, and explore program development opportunities with value-aligned people and organizations to expand the scope and impact of Field of Hope’s work. She will begin her position on June 15, 2022.

Olivia is an Agriculture Extension and Education Bachelor’s graduate of Penn State, and an Agriculture Education Master’s graduate of The University of Idaho. Between her degrees, Olivia gained years of boots-on-the-ground experience in Senegal, where she worked as a PeaceCorps Volunteer, specifically working as a Sustainable Agriculture Specialist. She stayed past her initial commitment to continue working for PeaceCorps as a Gender and Development Volunteer Leader. Most recently, Olivia has been a high school-level agriculture educator.

Olivia is not only extremely experienced in international agricultural development, but her heart and passion power her to this field of work. Olivia said she believes everyone has a right to food. “I truly believe that it is a necessity that every man, woman, and child have access to nutritious and safe food throughout their lifetime,” Olivia said.

This belief is what align Olivia with Field of Hope’s Mission and Values. She furthered this, stating, “It is the mission of Field of Hope to equip people with the right skills to ensure that their communities can grow, be food secure and empowered through agricultural pursuits and leadership development. If I can have a small part in that pursuit, I will be happy knowing that I have done what I can to advance communities further.”

For Olivia, agriculture brings people together and yields hard working people. “International agriculture has allowed me the opportunity to work beside some of the hardest working individuals as we work together to solve crop yield problems, sustainability issues, and create successful harvests for them and their communities. It is the “togetherness” that I feel when working in international agriculture that motivates me to keep working in this field,” Olivia stated.

Field of Hope implements programs in Uganda and India aimed at empowering partners through projects in youth agricultural education, smallholder farmer advancement, and leadership development. Visit www.fieldofhope.org to learn more.