Seeking to find a relationship within which one can be free.
I first heard about Meeting Point International when I was desperate for a friendship, a relationship due to the condition that I was in; three younger ones not being at school, to having no meal in a day, having three children dropouts at home, at that moment I needed none of my problems to be solved. What I needed was a friend, somewhere to belong and when a woman called Joyce who is a client of Mpi spoke to me about it. I felt that it was like any other Organization where by you feel alone even when your children are under sponsorship.
Hanifah together with her three children and husband lives in a place called Acholi quarters. It was a camp in Uganda, which was initially considered a place of the internally displaced persons. It is located outside the capital Kampala, in what might seem to be an inhospitable environment. The family lives in one room house made out of bricks with low light since it doesn’t have windows but one door with rays of light coming in, the only furniture is the small bench for both the family and visitors to sit.
The floor is cemented since the mattress is laid on the floor during the night. Hanifah with tears in her eyes narrates “At one point of my life, I lived with my children on the floor outside on the veranda since I didn’t have money to pay for the house. My child was sick, I couldn’t take him to the hospital because I lac ked money and when I attempted to do so, the doctors asked me for money for checkup and I could return home with him and since the people of the community that I lived in knew my condition, they gave me money for checkup and my child was treated. One woman who was a member of Meeting Point International, Joyce invited me to stay with them and this is where I joined with the women in kireka, At first it was difficult since I stayed with them and felt alone but with time I started dancing and singing and this took away most of my weights because I felt that sense of belonging and a friendship was born with the women since her business was to make papers bags for a living, I was moved and since it was simple I asked her to teach me so that I could do the same since I had nothing to do.
While sitting learning to do the paper bags. Rose Director MPI asked me to bring my children to be registered for sponsorship and all of them were registered and enrolled in school. One of my child in the primary and the other two in Luigi Giussani High school. I remember talking to myself that I should start doing these papers in order to buy the school requirements since Meeting Point international is paying for my children’s school fees. when I started doing paper bags, I started getting some money for food, requirements for my children, which is my business up to now and I do it for a living and it feels like my life was given back to me . I was always alone but not anymore because now I have discovered a companion beyond”.AS Hanifah recounts all that happened to her, There was a gentleness in her face and eyes.
By AYO VANESSA (Companionship of Works Association (COWA VTC )
I have discovered something beautiful that is now a wonder in my life. A dream I have never desired to a part of my life or even wished to be involved in. A voice you hear how has fallen passionately in love Agriculture starting from production to commercialization.
I am going to be frank with you, the previous years I looked at life at different perspective as far as careers are concerned, I dreamt of having a white collar job or highly paid professions like law, mass communication and IT management. I despised manual jobs such as agriculture and others looked at it as dirty, a fact that one has to touch soil, I wanted clean work where I do not have to break myself with bulky stuff but just getting simple and clean money. At least that is what was running through my mind those days.
After completing my high school in form six last year 2016. I was very excited about enrolling to the university during the vacation, I remember very well that I even drew down plans for the university around 22, January, 2017 which included getting a job during the vacation, then buy for myself a laptop, lots of clothes, shoes and a smart phone so as life at the university is really good and fun where I do not have to worry about anything else but books. l wanted to do IT management (Information Technology) at the university basically a degree course at any university in Uganda.
I shared this with aunt Rose but she disagreed with me and advised me to choose a course that is more lively, touchable and look at the job availability in Uganda whether I will be able to get a job. Deep inside my heart, I was not convinced so I went back hoe that day to think about it. But all I could think of was to do IT management at the university.
A simple invite to do a short course under agribusiness in COWA (Companionship of Works Association) an institute located in kamuli –kireka, Wakiso district, Uganda, changed everything in my life.
Aunt Rose invited me and my friends to do a course in order to keep ourselves busy during vacation as we wait for the university. She addressed this offer to us during a meeting she hosted. During the meeting, she wanted to know how her girls were doing, the challenges we were facing she can us accordingly. This is so because we were protected and spent all our lives at high school but now we were wide open into the world. So there could be high chances of messing up so she wanted to guide us and also make us feel secured that all in, there is someone we can to for counseling when challenges and problems come our way.
I was expected to start work in two weeks’ time I had got a job in Turkish supermarket around Ntinda, Kampala, Uganda. They were going to pay me some good money around 300,000/=.It was a lot of money for me as a starter. With this kind of money, l would have paid all my debts in the movement [communion and liberation] and a few friends who demanded me and also I would have bought all the requirements I needed at the university.
I know this sounds like regrets, actually sometimes l wonder whether l made the right decision. l say this because when l decided to do a short course in agribusiness along the way, l gained interest in this field so l gave up the job but this broke war at home , my Aunts were not happy about the decision l my made , they said that l have killed an opportunity of changing my life financially and independently.lt was tough for me in making this decision, my Aunts even made it worse for me l almost gave up the course also but my mom stood up for me as she said that whatever decision l make as long as it comes from my heart , the decision will always be right .This motivated me and uplifted my courage and confidence because l realized l was not a lone but rather with someone who loved me.
Our trainer Mr. Michael in COWA really motivated me and made me fall in love with agriculture , l remember he shared with us experience about some of his friends who did urban farming basically dealing in tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and Sukuma wiki respectively . And how they were profitable for instance, the one of tomatoes who could get 200,000/=daily. And this enabled him to take care of family, take his children to school and finish constructing his house. These persons were using the available space at home not so big but the produce could be high. This really caught my interest.
At around march most of the form six leavers where to apply to the universities of their choices and the courses they would like to do including myself. At this point, l was in dilemma because in August COWA was taking the Agriculture students to agro max limited Uganda- a farm in order for the students to acquire more skills basically we were going for green house management and also other things we would find there. This very month the students at the university would be starting their studies especially as the first years.
I tell you what, l lost weight in two weeks as l was thinking of what to do, on the other hand, my girlfriends were reminding me to apply because most of them were going to apply and others had already applied. They were asking me the course l will be doing and which university l will going to. This was really too much, so l went for help to my mom and the director of COWA know as Miss Chrispine who told me that their options would be as good as useless to me now and the only thing was make up my mind and make a decision because this was a critical moment in my life which l had to make on my own. I felt as if this was a matter of life and death.
Soon or rather, l had to make a decision where l chose agribusiness over IT Management .This time my relatives especially my Aunts quarried, the y almost wanted to swallow me a life. They complained that l was wasting time and resources. They said that l should not have studied A’LEVEL it I knew, l would have branched off immediately after O’LEVEL and then they confessed how disappointed they were in me. But a fact is that studying never ends and may be this is what God had prepared for me all along. So that l can discover my talents and interests.
During my trainings in agro max limited Uganda Gayaza-Luteete-Kampala which lasted about three months have really been of great importance to me . l have gained a lot of skills, competence, determination, motivation and courage to go further, research , study and venture more in agriculture. Discovering more technologies and is innovations in agriculture so as to advance and commercialize the produce and the products.
Green house management
Coffee nursery and mother garden management
Open field management
Tissue culture propagation
Passion fruit management
Site selection for open field and green house
Agro-forestry nursery kinds of propagation
Propagation of plants using cloning method
Vegetative method of propagation
Crop nutrition practices
Pest and disease identification and control
Record keeping in both open field and green house
Sales and marketing
I plan to start up a project so as to practice the skills l have attained, and l also look forward to share my skills with the youth like me especially those who are wasting their lives and time, l would like t create awareness among them that they can do something for themselves and make a difference in their lives. I am confident that now that l can change the face of my family, my life and that of the society. I have hope now that some of my ambitions will come to light, for instance ,giving away to charity, may be the hand, l have been exchanging is not enough.
I would love to help the needy basically because out of love and charity l was able to go to school and l was able to reach where I am now. Therefore l want to make a different in someone’s life.
At this point of my life, l look forward to advance in agriculture, l desire to do a diploma course after completing my certificate and if possible l would love to continue further to do a degree course. I realized the more l advance in my studies, the more l get exposed to a wider agriculture, and discover more technologies and innovations. I also believe more opportunities will come my way, my friends keep on reminding me of years but l am not worried about it as studying and discovering never ends until we go to our gravels.
I want to join the world of people who are fighting famine and starvation all over villages because times have changed so we need to change also, as we cannot just sit and look as our fellow friends die basically due to facts that, there is nothing left to eat. This has been a major problem in Uganda in the pasted years, l would like this to happen again. Agriculture is the back bone of my country and there are a lot of opportunities in it, l cannot afford to miss this beautiful journey.
I send special thanks to my sponsors, mentors, family, and friends for being always there for me, without any of you, l do not think whether l would be making big decisions in my life.
You have sacrificed a lot in order for me to attain education especially my sponsors i appreciate the kindness and generosity you have shown me.