Today’s guest blog is written by Penny Husted-Gamm. Penny is an award-winning photographer who has been a long-time supporter of Food for the Hungry and an advocate for the poor and suffering. She recently visited Food for the Hungry programs in Uganda and was inspired by how FH helps parents better care for their children through livelihoods programs.
Okello Jovine did not dare to dream. Seeing his big smile, bright eyes and his easy manner, it was hard to imagine the hopelessness he felt only a few short years ago.
As a farmer, his livelihood felt largely out of his control. His ability to provide for his family depended on many things. Some years they experienced severe drought, other years extreme flooding, and some years infestation. He didn’t know what to do to provide a more stable income for his family. He lacked the knowledge to combat the many issues he faced as a farmer.
“Life was not moving on well because I did not have enough knowledge of farming,” he shared.
Livelihoods Training and Education Instilled Hoped
Then two years ago, Food for the Hungry entered his small village and partnered with the farmers. Okello received training on farming techniques for their area, techniques to counter flooding and droughts. He also received education on diversifying crops to mitigate risk. In addition to receiving seeds for citrus fruit and passion fruit, Okello received beehives and tools needed to harvest honey-tools like gloves, bee-keeping suit, boots, honeycomb knives and wheelbarrows.
Beehives are a natural source of diversification because their productivity is not dependent on weather. Harvesting honey provides a stable source of income and provides a buffer against loss in other crops. Okello gets paid several times a year, earning him a stable yearly salary.
“Life has become easy because in a moment when I need some money for the shop or some other requirement I am able to obtain without FH now.”
A Life with Dreams
Life is so easy now that he dares to dream. With the sun low in the sky, Okello took us for a stroll around his property. His tall frame relaxed as he showed us his 38 beehives nestled in the trees. Okello’s property includes pastures and water, and he dreams of adding animals to his farm. He dreams of branching out with the help of NAROU (National Agricultural Research Organization of Uganda) and planting seeds from them that are high yielding and drought resistant. His biggest dream is a centralized place to process honey and create multiple products to sell directly to the community. His community values honey for its medicinal benefits. Where once Okello had slim hope to have a stable source of income, he now dares to have big dreams.