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.

 

Field of Hope’s Second Scholarship Recipient: Meet Jackie

We are thrilled to announce Jacqueline J. Acaa, better known to us as Jackie, is the second recipient of our Field of Hope Scholarship. Jackie has been working with Field of Hope since 2015, when she met our co-founder Mike Hafner. “We become friends at first sight,” Jackie said, when Mike told her about FOH and our efforts to support women through agricultural training. FOH asked Jackie to help us with our women’s group trainings, and she has been an integral part of our success.

Jackie has build a career toward, “strengthening the capacity of farmers to improve food security, nutrition and income,” she said. She has done so after receiving her previous degrees: a BSc. in Agriculture, and a post graduate diploma in project planning and management. Currently, she is working on attaining her MSc. Applied Human Nutrition from Makerere University.

Field of Hope has awarded her a scholarship to help aid in gaining her Master’s degree in Applied Human Nutrition.

My Experience with Field of Hope: Gloria’s Story

My name is Gloria Namuyombya an intern with Field of Hope. I have been working with FOH since 7th February, 2022 and I have had an opportunity to work in all its three pillars. I must say every pillar is unique, but what is common in all pillars is the passion for empowering the community and improving the livelihoods of those involved through agriculture.

In the Smallholder Farmer Advancement pillar, I have the privilege to work with seven women farmer groups consisting of over 330 farmers, training them on various aspects like nutrition, agriscience, VSLA and, group dynamics. The joy the women always have when they see us go train keeps me looking forward to the next days’ training to see these beautiful smiles again. They are always eager to learn and embrace new methods of farming to improve the quality of their yields and their levels of income. They have a dream to earn better from their farming activities and FOH, through these trainings, is enabling them to realize their dreams.

While with the women farmers, you will have several highlights, but what stands out is their love for Christ and their strong praise sessions. You can never fail to dance listening to their melodious voices lifting the name of Jesus high and am always anxiously waiting for these interlude sessions to praise God together. This sets FOH’s model of training way apart as Jesus is always at the center of every training. The women have a lot of impactful stories to share since they started working with FOH ranging from improved agricultural productivity to better livelihoods that has enabled them to support their families better.

The other unique aspect about FOH is the urban garden at the office in Lira, Uganda. It is a very beautiful scenery that ushers you into the FOH office. It is amazing how this small, but innovative, garden can sufficiently provide vegetables to the FOH Ugandan staff and also make it possible to share portions with other people who visit the office occasionally. It is one learning point that I am going to implement back home to cut down on the cost of feeding and provide an alternative source of income for my mother. I want to teach my mother this skill so that she may also teach other community members to boost food security in our community. I believe that to excite youths to venture into agriculture we have to present agriculture using fun and innovative ways and urban gardening is one of those innovative ways.

In the Youth Agriculture Education Pillar, I have had a chance to participate in several school and ISAG project visits within Lango-subregion. The level of enthusiasm the students have for agriculture is unmatched. This stems from the use of teacher guides and supplements FOH distributes to the teachers and various teacher trainings held which have empowered the teachers to teach agriculture more practically and in an interesting manner through use of the interest approach. FOH is doing a tremendous work in changing the perception of the students towards agriculture and the for the students I talked to, I was so excited listening to their career aspirations in the agricultural field. The students have refreshed new dreams of pursuing agriculture as a career that has been made possible through the mentoring sessions by the FOH staff at the end of each school visit conducted. I enjoyed sharing with the students about agriculture as a profession and reassuring them that their life dreams are possible and alive if they pursue agriculture with passion.

The ISAG projects impact many students’ lives. A number of them have started implementing similar projects at home and teaching their communities the skills learned from these projects. The projects initially meant for the students at school are expanding with their impact reaching community level. Listening to the students testify how they are now able to afford personal and school requirements ands school fees due to the money they are earning from implementing similar projects back home shows the extent to which the organization is breaking all boundaries to reach out to every individual out there in the community and enable them to live better lives. These projects are sustaining several students in these schools by equipping them with relevant knowledge and skills to practice agriculture as a business.

On a personal level, working with FOH is an answered prayer. I always prayed to God to put me in a workplace where I can draw closer to Him, a place where His name will be glorified and given priority in all that’s being done, and I got exactly that working with FOH. The bible says in the book of Mathew 6:33, “Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (NLT). At FOH, in whatever that is done, prayer is always the first step and the monthly bible studies are a great highlight for me. The family has paved way for me to draw closer to God and get a deeper meaning of His word. Prayer as one of the core values of FOH assured me that the organization was built on a solid rock and through the work done, God’s love is manifested to all mankind. To anyone seeking a family with whom together you can serve God and see His glory manifest through the works of your hand then FOH is that family.

Working with FOH has equipped me with hands on agricultural professional skills and expertise and I strongly believe that I now have all it takes to practice agriculture extension and education as a professional. It has also taught me that it’s possible to realize your dreams from any part of the world if you have passion for what you are doing. I come from the central part of Uganda but here working in Lango-subregion (Northern Uganda) fulfilling my dream of serving the community through agriculture extension and education. Despite the cultural differences, three things join us that is the love for God, mankind and Agriculture which is all that matters.

Finally, I cannot talk about FOH without talking about the wonderful Ugandan team that I have been working with for over eight weeks now. They are a team of very passionate individuals about agriculture and the community they serve, very hardworking but above all they are people who love God. They have made my internship a lot way easier by guiding me through my day-to-day tasks to see that I develop professionally and get equipped with skills essential to be an all-round agricultural professional. They are very jolly people that there is never a moment of dullness be it in office or in the field which makes work more enjoyable. I could have never prayed for any other team to work with during this stage of my career development than this great family.

I extend my sincere gratitude to the entire FOH Ugandan team, Okullu Walter, Agnes Obote, Nicholas Ssebalamu and Apea Joseph for the guidance rendered to me during this stage of my career. I also extend my sincere gratitude to the whole FOH fraternity for giving me the opportunity to serve as an intern in the mighty organization and learn from everyone. May the living God bless you all abundantly.

Adventures in Agriculture: The Future

I have been in Uganda for about two months now and have had the privilege of visiting over 1000 students and over 40 schools. During all of these schools visits I have seen joyful students excited to learn about agriculture. I have heard many stories of students who have taken what they have learned back home. To help their own family or to implement their own agriculture program. I wrote a poem to better express what I have seen during these visits:

The Future

Student after student

Face after face

A joy so bright

That it filled the whole place

 

Lessons learned every day

Teachers show their students grace

Its easy to see

How great a place

It is to learn

And find their way

 

A way to change the future

Even their life today

By taking what they learn

And not letting it stay

Just inside their heads

But letting it change

the world around them

knowing that agriculture

will never be the same

 

Student after student

Face after face

The future of agriculture

Here in this place

By: Lindsey Thompson, Fellow 2022

Adventures in Agriculture: Red Dirt Roads

When you think of red dirt roads you might start to hum the tune of a good old country song. For me, this tune changed. Now, when I think of red dirt roads, many images flash through my mind: a friendly ‘hello’ as I walk down a washed-out red dirt road, little shops scattered around, making a curb where there is not one, on the side of a red dirt road, hearing the little patter of feet behind me as a small girl joins me on a jog down a red dirt road, or laughing mid-conversation because a bump on a red dirt road has sent my companion a foot into the air. But, what has impacted me the most so far are the conversations and relationships I have built as I have journeyed down these red dirt roads.

One of my first thoughts when traveling down one of these roads was to wonder why no one has fixed it yet. My Western mindset is to value efficiency and ease and these roads certainly do not offer that. So maybe you are wondering, what these roads do have to offer? For me they offer friendship, laughter, a smile and conversations that have left me knowing the heart of my Creator just a little bit more.

My fear coming into this season of life in a different country, with a different culture and many different languages was that I would feel lonely, but I forgot about one important thing that we would have in common: Jesus.

The Ugandan staff all have a heart to serve the Lord and have shown me what it looks like to be in relationship with Him. Prayer is one of Field of Hopes core values. This was clear the moment I stepped into the country. Each day as we got into the van we prayed for our day. The longer I spend with this organization, the more I can see that the Lord is directing our path. I think a big part of this is simply because prayer is being put first. Now when I travel down these roads, I can rejoice in all of the sweet gifts the Lord has given me.

 

By: Lindsey Thompson, Fellow 2022

 

Meet Rose

Alebtong Rose has been a part of the Niyee Women’s Group and Village & Savings Loan Association (VSLA) with Field of Hope for over five years. Rose is a farmer, and explained that prior to working with FOH, she struggled to manage funds and had many issues with her crops.

“Before joining Field of hope, I was not in any group and I had many problems,” Rose said. “It was hard for me to get money but when I joined Field of Hope, we were trained on how to do proper farming, planting crops, prepare land, harvesting, and proper storage.”

Rose said the topics she was trained on, both practical and financial, helped her support her family.

“After learning all these I started getting money to send my children to school and pay school fees,” Rose said. She continued, saying, “I now have the ability to do many things. After a while, I borrowed money from the grant and used part of it to pay school fees, bought pigs, and repaired my grinding mill – which was [broken] and its now working.”

She said the financial freedom she gained after wilding the VSLA training and funds has eliminated many stressors.

Rose said, “I’m now [making] money, am able to send my children to school, and am able to continue paying schools, anytime. I have no worries or fears about how to pay school fees.”

 

Rose has big plans and has been building off of her previous successes to delve into further enterprises.

“When I borrowed from the [VSLA], I bought pigs. Now, I have a plan to move forward to build a structure tp start a poultry project. When I do that, it will give me the ability to build another house and continue paying school fees for my children. In future I want to continue with the project,” Rose explained.

Rose said she sees the benefits of Field of Hope’s trainings, and would love to receive more, stating, “I would like Field of Hope to train us on how to keep and take care of animals.”

Rose remarked on her lasting knowledge through Field of Hope’s interventions. She said, “Lastly, I want to thank [Field of Hope] for the knowledge they have given us, now we know how to raise and save money. Thank you.”

To continue supporting women like Rose, make an impact by donating here.

Meet Selly

Selly Ocen has been working with Field of Hope for the past six years. A farmer, and member of the Arwotcek Womens’ Cooperative, Selly is lives in the Amolatar district where she raises her children.

Selly said joining our women’s group has been a positive experience, stating, “being in the group is good, and it has helped me to many things.”

However, prior to her joining the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA), Selly said it was difficult to achieve the things she wanted to.

“Before joining the group, it was hard for me to get good things,” Selly said, and continued, “When I joined the group, I started receiving good things, for example money.”

Selly did not simply receive money, she capitalized upon the help to amplify her own work.

Selly said, “The money I borrowed from the group helped me to pay school fees, and I bought an ox which is now making my farming very easy.”

The support from the group proved successful for Selly, and she has big plans to continue improving.

“I have a plan to build a house next year,” Selly said, “I want to build a good house where I’m going to sleep.”

Selly expressed her appreciation for our partnership, stating, “Field of Hope has been good. They helped us with food stuff when we had [harsh weather], there was nothing to eat. If you don’t have money, there was no way of feeding your children. But Field of Hope helped us with food and many other things.”

To continue supporting women like Selly, make an impact by donating here.

 

Meet Keren

Partner schools competitively apply for the ISA grant with their proposed projects and the best agriculture projects are awarded 1,000.0 USD. Iganga Girls High School is one of the benefiting partner schools that was supported through ISAG to start a poultry project in 2019. The project has so far been done twice and has since been a tremendous success impacting over 300 girls at the school. Some of the girls went ahead to start their own poultry projects at home during lockdown.

This is the story of Keren!

Wafula Keren is a senior 4 student at Iganga Girls High School and member of the students’ agriculture club “YoFFA”. Keren participated actively in the poultry project at Iganga Girls High School funded by Field of Hope from 2019. Using the skills and inspiration she acquired from the school project, during the holiday Keren was able to successfully convince her parents to construct for her a semi-permanent chicken house and provide capital for her project. She started her poultry project with 100 broiler chicks in 2019, which managed successfully, and sold off at a profit.

Motivated by the success of her initial project, Keren was able to expand her project to 150 broiler chicks in 2020 using revenue from her first project.

 

She was able to successful manage her project using her newfound skills and made a profit of 120,000ugx (33.6 USD). Keren continued expanding her project to 200 broiler chicks this year which she also managed very well. Currently she has 15 broiler hens from which she obtains about 2 trays of eggs per week. She earns UGX 20,000 per week from the sale of her eggs. Keren has used money from the sale of eggs to bring in more broiler chicks that she’s currently managing at her parent’s home. They use the poultry manure to improve their banana and maize crops.

Keren has been able to help her parents with some expenses at home throughout the lockdown period with money she generates from her poultry projects. Keren shared her future for the project, “In the future when I have funding, I hope to expand my poultry project by building another chicken house where I can keep more chicken”.

In her concluding remarks Keren hipped praise to Field of Hope and her agriculture teachers, “I thank Field of Hope for all they have done for us, and I want to thank my agriculture teachers for learning opportunity they gave us. May God, bless you Field of Hope and may you continuously expand your projects and activities.”

To continue supporting women like Keren, make an impact by donating here.

Meet James

Isooba James is an agriculture teacher at Iganga Secondary School who has been involved with Field of Hope for over three years. James said before his involvement with Field of Hope, he used traditional teaching methods. However, Field of Hope’s teacher trainings showed him methodologies that improved his teaching quality – positively effecting his students. “Before Field of Hope came in, I was still a teacher but my methodology of handling the content was the conventional way of teaching (typically rote memorization),” James said. He continued to say, “Field of Hope helped me to change from that conventional way of teaching to methodologies that interest and inspire students.”

James’ teaching repertoire expanded with the tools Field of Hope has provided. He said: “Some examples are the interest approach, group working method, and project-based teaching. All of these are engaging methods to use as I handle agriculture as a subject. They are very interesting and will inspire students to pay attention, and have real-life, hands-on experience.” Hands-on teaching methods and providing experiential learning is vital to students who will have a career in agriculture, a very hands-on profession.

Not only has FOH aided James through teaching methodologies to improve his classroom, he said it aided his career advancement and development through our teacher trainings. “I learned that agriculture is a business and therefore I have come up with many projects as myself, and a network of friends because we were brought together by Field of Hope. So, I have a very wide network to benchmark with, which I didn’t have before,” James said. James has attended several in-person and online trainings provided by FOH. James explained how Field of Hope continues to positively affect his teaching, students, and school’s ability to provide for its students through its curriculum, and grants that funded a poultry operation. “Field of Hope provided us with teacher’s guides and awarded us an Inspiring Students in Agriculture Grant in 2019. Through this grant we invested it in poultry project with the students. We took the students through the procedures, and broiler project management.” The impact of this project broadens, as James explained, “many of these students are having small projects back at their parents’ homes.” These “small home projects” have been especially influential during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns. James works to battle the notion that agriculture is an “unideal profession,” stating, “we are trying to change this kind of thinking.”

Additionally, James notes the importance of supporting young women in agriculture through their education. “I see many girls taking up agriculture more than ever in the last four years – things have changed, and many girls are taking agriculture as a subject and later studying at university to do agriculture.” A wonderful example of the teachers we work with, James is a supporter of our mission, and is eager to encourage more teachers to join Field of Hope. “I want to encourage Field of Hope to continue with this program of mentoring teachers and the youth. Let’s go out and reach out to many teachers and schools so that this network increases, it is going to be a very good thing as a country in Uganda, thank you!”

To continue supporting teachers like James, make an impact by donating here.

Meet Vicky

Vicky Amongi is a treasurer of Ayabi Women’s Farmers Cooperative Society Limited in the Apac District. Vicky is a smallholder farmer, and joined the group in 2015. For the past six years, she has been a partner of Field of Hope.

Before joining the group, Vicky said she, “was lacking skills and knowledge in good agronomic practices as a farmer. I used to broadcast my seeds in the field, use local seeds varieties, prepare the garden only once and my yield, thus experiencing hunger and very low income to support my family. In addition accessing loans to buy inputs and venturing in to businesses was very hard because of no formed saving (VSLA) group to get the loan from.”

As a result of Field of Hope intervention, she joined the group and received different trainings – including good agronomic practices such as proper land preparation, row planting, crop management practices, post-harvest handling practices, village savings and loans association (VSLA), financial literacy, and animal management practices. With the trainings she received, Vicky said she is empowered to carry out several businesses and a piggery production through the loans from her saving group. Additionally, the construction of her home was paused due to financial means, but because of her successes, she has been able to continue.

“My future plans and goals is to continue being in the group until the day God calls me and leave one of my children to be in the group also so that they are empowered just like am being empowered in the group to improve my livelihoods,” Vicky said.

In her concluding remark, she thanks Field of Hope for empowering her. She requests Field of Hope continues visiting and guiding her and her village, as well as providing increased trainings where they may be lacking. “May the Almighty God bless Field of Hope abundantly,” Vicky said.

To continue supporting women like Vicky, make an impact by donating here.