Sunday, April 22, 2012

A day in the life

I woke up early and was out the door by 6:30am. I made my usual stop at Igar which is a petrol station just east of the Nile. I put some dieselin the Isuzu and ran inside for a coffee and a couple muffins. Not quite Tim Horton's but the coffee woke me up and the muffins filled me up. I started my 100km drive on the highway that heads west from Jinja towards Kampala. It is called a highway but it is difficult to get over 60km/hr let alone 80 as there is so much truck traffic with hundreds of big trucks carrying containers and fuel from Mombasa and Eldoret on their way to Kampala or through Kampala on their way to South Sudan, West Uganda eastern Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and even Western Tanzania. Many are overloaded and in rough shape so the going is pretty slow if you get stuck behind one. Given that many of the drivers are on a local drug called mailunji or marijuana and are overtired and rune trucks in pretty rough shape there are a LOT of accidents involving large trucks ( I calculate one truck off the road/accident per trip to Kampala). So I try to balance speed and caution as I head west. 
As I near the urban sprawl of Kampala I head North west on a dirt road that I found on Google maps the other week which cuts of a few miles of traffic plugged road as I head to Kira farm just north of Kampala. 17 minutes later I am back on a tarmac road heading north where i will meet another winding paved road that takes me through a rural area just north of Kampala. I enter Gayaza and head north again at the round-about and after a few kilometres if nice tarmac I turn off Zirobwe road onto a bumpy access road which takes me up to the beautiful gate of Kira Farm. It's 8:30 and two hours after leaving home and 100km of driving I am ready to help over 25 students plant theirexperiential gardens that we had prepared a couple weeks ago together. Kira farm is the location of Amigos Worldwide which gives technical training to disadvantaged youth, most of whom have come fr

om the region where Kony was active or were even child soldiers or slaves under him. They are a pleasant group of students on the whole but not without the usual attitude struggles of young people everywhere. Each student is taking a technical course (carpentry, mechanics, tailoring,etc) in addition to being taught Farming God's Way. The idea is that they can go back to their home area and create their own wealth through having self employment and farming the rich land where they are from.

The students are mostly eager to plant their gardens with a few dragging their feet and trying their best to find somewhere on the campus to hide. But they know farming is important and most will have grown up on a farm or near one. Farming to many youth is just a a lot of hard work with little income. With FGW we are trying to change that. Farming definitely is hard work; but we want that hard work to result in higher yields grown on better soil so that farmers can have a sustainable profit! We are teaching them how to take care of their soil so that their soil will take care of them -- and their grandchildren!
We first plant one sma
ll garden together so that each step can be observed carefully. Then, all of the students disperse to their own 6 x 6 meter plots. With each student having their own garden it is very quickly evident who listened and who didn't and wh
o is lazy and who is diligent. Through the simple process of these experiential gardens we will be able to disciple the students through their strengths and weaknesses meanwhile guiding them to learn the basic principles of all farming. The gardens are soon planted and just a few of the slower students are left out in their plots. Mulch is brought in, covering the garden, completing the last step of planting. 
After a nice late morning tea break with some of the British staff I am off to a nearby research station to collect improved seed. Most of the staff at Namalonge are friendly and willing to supply me with free samples which I willingly wait for like a boy i

n a candy shop choosing his favourite sweets.

 At the end I leave the extensive farm property (which a colonial era golf course) with samples of improved cassava, sweet potato, a plethora of bean varieties and some maize. I am very happy with my treasure and start my 2 1/2 hour journey home thrilled that we have starting stock for our seed bank project.

By the time I get home it is getting dark and I am happy to see my wonderful family -- but it has been a full day and I am happy to be part of such ordinary yet profound work as we train people how to farm and how to depend on God in simple and practical ways. Even the seed we have obtained is part of God's all sufficiency that He will express to the farmer as it reproduces "after it's own kind" for many years to come!

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