There are days when I question why I do this. It is my choice after all. There is no mandate to board the plane, to cross the Atlantic Ocean and wake up to roosters crowing half way around the world.
And somewhere between the intermittent electricity and cold showers, as the African sun burns into my skin and the wind embeds the red soils into my every crevice, the questions come…why do I continue to do this?*
Sure, there is adventure. But adventure would invite me on safari or white water rafting down the Nile. Adventure doesn’t invite you to the middle of a field.
But Ketty does.
Meet Ketty. She is from Amolatar District in Northern Uganda and is one of the women in our Women’s Empowerment Program. She was beside herself with excitement that I had come to visit her field.
I asked her how being part of the women’s group has changed her farming. “I am learning new knowledge about how to do things better and now have access to a tractor which saves me so much time during plowing.” She goes on to share how the mechanized plowing allows her to plant “in time” when the rains have come, which lets her hit the ideal planting window.
We are growing the women’s program “slowly by slowly” as they would say here, allowing the women and our partner’s at VOMAP to take the lead. It is not our intent to manage a perfectly executed agricultural program, but rather to walk alongside our partners and the women at a pace that they help develop. Otherwise, it would become “our” program and the progress would likely end when we board the plane to come home.
“What is your biggest challenge?” I ask. “What would you like to see next through the program?” She pauses and smiles a hopeful smile. “I would like to be able to access a sprayer to help with insects and disease.” I can also see the need, but because it is her idea, she will take ownership of the solution.
Tomorrow morning I will meet with the leaders of VOMAP and discuss how we might help the women formalize their Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) to become a resource for their agricultural endeavors. This may become an avenue that enables Ketty to purchase that backpack sprayer she’s been eyeing.
“Please continue to visit me in my field to check on my progress.” Then a smile paints across her face. “Please you are welcome to join us for harvest!”**
I suddenly want nothing more than to do just that! There are many kinds of harvests the Lord is preparing…
The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Matthew 9:37-38
*I realize that coming here for a short term trip hardly seems like a sacrifice, especially compared to my heroes, the long-term missionaries that give their lives to such a cause, however I am merely being transparent about my questions. For example “What would be so wrong with living a ‘regular’ life, with all the creature comforts of home?” The answer…nothing! Until I meet another Ketty!
**Reliving the day, I nearly forget that we spoke through a translator (Agnes). While English is the national language, each village speaks their own native tongue first. The more remote locations you travel, the more limited education and English you will find.
Post by Brandy Young.