Recent Uganda farmland harvest yields 3 tons of beans, 5.7 tons of corn; story of one woman’s hope found from near-death to empowerment in our women’s catering business

Photo: Students at our rural boarding high school are happy about the abundant corn harvest!

We are happy to report that our native team harvested 5.7 tons of corn at the beginning of this month which we will use to supplement our primary school’s and high school’s students’ meals. They enjoy the corn as well as milled corn flour which is a common food staple in Ugandan cuisine. We also recently harvested 3 tons of beans, which is another common food staple in Uganda. In September we will plant more corn which will be harvested in January. In February or March we will plant more beans and corn as that is an optimal time of year to grow beans — we are looking forward to another bountiful bean harvest in May or June.

Our 100 banana trees continue to produce approximately 88 pounds of bananas biweekly during rainy seasons. We are currently in a dry season, thus the yield has decreased to 30-50 pounds of bananas biweekly. But we are thankful for our banana grove which continuously provides another nutritious item for our children’s diets. These agricultural micro-enterprises are very empowering to our native team as they enable them to save money that would have been spent buying food at market for the students at our 2 schools. Our recent harvests of corn, beans, and bananas will cover many of our staple food needs for 3 months and save us $3,000 which we can now allot to our teachers’ salaries. We’re proud of our native team for being innovative and resourceful in working hard to grow their own food, but with your support we hope to help them purchase supplementary food items such as rice, potatoes, yams, cassava, spaghetti, and bread to round out the children’s diets.

In other good news, our women’s catering business, which we started 4 years ago, is flourishing with 25 women enrolled — the women are from the local community, single mothers as well as girls who dropped out of school because they could not afford the tuition fees. Their responsibilities include cooking meals, collecting and chopping firewood, waitressing, and decorating for various events such as wedding receptions, graduation parties, conferences, seminars, workshops, birthday parties, and anniversary parties. The women prepare local buffet-style meals which include rice, bananas, yams, potatoes, cassava, posho (corn meal), chicken, fish, pork, beef, ground nut paste, and salads made of avocados, cabbages, carrots, onions, green papers, cucumbers, and collard greens. They also prepare fruit salads made of pineapples, mangoes, oranges, lemons, watermelon, and apples.

In the words of our field director: “Our ministry through the women’s catering business works to empower women spiritually, socially, and economically because women are fundamental and significant in bringing families, communities, and nations together within socio-economic development. It has been proven that today women, more especially in rural Uganda, bear the brunt of bringing up children and ensuring that they go to school. These women need to be equipped with sustainable skills that can help them earn a daily income in order to meet the daily needs of their families. Thus, as one of our ministry objectives, we came up with a program of equipping women with self-sustainable skills such as the catering services where we aim to empower the local women to seize every opportunity to use their local skills to earn a living. Another skill development program for the women is tailoring aimed for fashion designing where they are learning how to make dresses, work uniforms, sweaters, pillow cases, and bed sheets. They are also being taught craft-making skills where they are learning how to make purses and necklaces. Through training and helping these women with catering services, tailoring skills, hand craft-making skills, we will help them acquire the knowledge and ability to later enable them to start up their own businesses that can sustain their homes, educate their children, and help to fight poverty amongst families.”

We want to share the story of one of the women enrolled in our women’s catering business and how it has transformed her life. Here is Sarah’s story in her own words:

My name is Sarah, aged 45 years, and I am a divorced woman. I have been divorced for 10 years. During my previous marriage, we seemed to be okay in the beginning. My ex-husband turned against me after living together for eight years but without having children. In this period of time we both visited doctors for help and it was discovered that I had some health issues, so my chances to conceive and carry a child in my womb were very minimal. In the African culture, it is understood that any man would love to receive a child as soon as he gets married to a woman. My ex-husband began changing his behavior, his love toward me deteriorated, and on many occasions he could spend days without coming back home. Upon his return, whenever I tried to ask of his whereabouts, the conversation would end in fighting and he often hit me badly. I tried to be calm and patient and we sought advice from marriage counselors, but all of this did not yield positive results.

His relatives used to abuse me with mockery, saying that I just came to eat their son’s food and this always kept me in such a miserable state. One day I attempted to commit suicide because the mockery was too much for me. But I thank God that before I made that deadly decision, a Christian meeting was held in our village. They shared a message of hope and how Jesus was kind to everyone and how He could restore everyone’s life. After the sharing time they made an invitation for people to come forward who needed prayers, and I went forward, they prayed for me, and I understood that God had saved me through this new hope.

The church followed up with me and I started attending their gatherings. It took me awhile to be healed from my past, but later I really experienced deliverance from my anger and bitterness that had developed within me during the torturous times with my ex-husband. After one year in the church, hearing encouraging messages of hope and love, I was enrolled in the catering service program, and now I have been working with them for three years.

I do enjoy the catering business because I have been able to meet more friends here who have added value to my life through socialization. I am also happy that I am able to make some income. Though it is not enough for my house rent, food, and day-to-day living, I am able to buy the basic necessities for my life that I could not afford previously. My responsibility in the catering service business is in the cooking department, working alongside other women. Working together as a team is keeping us as one and we are gaining experience plus meeting new people whenever there is opportunity to serve.

With your faithful support we are still seeking to construct a dormitory for the boys — we need to raise $35,000 to buy the construction materials — cement, clay bricks, plaster, sand, DPC plastic papers, timber, nails, and iron roofing sheets — and labor costs. We also hope to purchase play facilities such as a swing set, play tunnels, dolls for the little girls, and other such items for recreation for all of the children at our primary school. In addition, our primary school students desperately need better access to clean water. The children travel on foot for over two miles looking for drinking water. And when they do arrive at a well, the wait can be several hours to get to the front of the line.

Lastly, we are taking a few more critical steps to elevate our high school to the level necessary to compete with the larger city-based boarding high schools. Thus we are seeking $12,000 for a set of 50 refurbished laptops to create an up-to-date computer lab for the students. We are extremely grateful for your generosity to enhance the quality of life, health, and happiness of our women, our primary school students, our high school students, our loving teachers, and our dedicated native team.

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