There are 1163 children at this school, 463 of which are in full time boarding. We plan to develop a half acre site within the school's compound. JB, the PPIK team, Scope Uganda and CIDI did the first phase of a permaculture food program there in February 2019 and MP was there assessing the site for phase 2 in November 2019. These folks demonstrated that they clearly earned their next installation. We need funding for preliminary stakeholders sensitization workshops, seeds, seedlings, labour, tools, installation of two underground rainwater catchments, fencing, food, accommodation and travel for our African team of 10. The story continues below....
MP’s Notes From The Field:
Phase 1 although small, was extremely well maintained, food and seeds were dried for future consumption and planting and the students and teachers showed a lot of enthusiasm for permaculture and land stewardship! Their tools were in amazing shape and none had gone missing, they hired staff to guard the garden. Growing food like papayas is relatively unheard of in this region and this tough little school did it and is leading the way in regenerative agriculture! But there is not enough being produced for all the children and water is still scarce.
At first, Iriri in the Northeastern region of Karamoja in Uganda seems a town similar to the rest but it doesn’t take long to feel an indiscernible feeling that things aren’t ok. This is a place which I would not have been able to visit only 9 years ago.
People seem displaced and in search of something. I was soon to find out that it was their culture that was missing.
“To Karamojong pastoralists, it is the gun which enables them to maintain or regain the pastoralist identity which was threatened by decades of confinement in “closed districts”. Post-colonial pressures to settle down, reinforced by frequent state seizure of their livestock, condemned many to a sedentary lifestyle which is both anathema to the inhabitants of the region and incompatible with ecological realities. This combination of factors has made the Karamojong especially vulnerable to future droughts and upheavals and fearful of cultural extinction. “ (https://reliefweb.int/…/uganda-scramble-cattle-power-and-gu…) Their way of life was further turned upside down with the civil war of the 1980s in Uganda and neighbouring countries. Horrific gun violence was a daily occurrence well into the 2000s. It’s not hard to find the oral history of what happened here as images are still fresh in the memories of everybody as young as 10 years old. My conversations about totally unrelated topics with the people I met frequently circled back to personal accounts of gun violence.
The history and predicament here is so complex that it would take a whole book to write about it.
My two days in this isolated town left me with a tender heart and a longing for a deeper understanding of the Karamajongs, their challenges, their battles and their future victories.
Kibera is the second largest slum in Africa with a population of almost 1 million people. KICOSHEP (Kibera Community Self-Help Program) Primary School has had a long successful track record of positively impacting the community with urban farming initiatives and supporting people and children living with HIV/AIDS. We plan to implement 100 sack gardens and various pop bottle gardens for KICOSHEP Primary School in fall 2020. The school has 353 children, 65 of which are living with HIV/AIDS. They desperately deserve to be fed nutritious locally grown food and to learn about how to grow their own food. We need funding for sacks, seeds, seedlings, tree seedlings, soil, manure and to build a cement wall to replace iron sheets for garden protection...
MP’s Notes From The Field:
Dr. Anne Owiti started working in Kibera treating people with HIV/AIDS in 1990. She started an organization called KICOSHEP at the same point as pioneering VCT (Voluntary Counselling and Testing).
In short, this strategy involves 2 counsellors and quick, cheap, accurate HIV tests with rapid results given within 15 minutes using a drop of blood and cells from the cheek. She and 4 other doctors did the research to come up with this effective way to try and control the spread of HIV in Africa where lack of education and stigma ruled the disease. Many preferred not to know their status or had no knowledge the disease existed so VCT allowed for counselling and mobilization to encourage testing. In those days many people preferred to commit suicide rather than live with the disease which had no treatment. KICOSHEP’s advances aided in the destigmatization of HIV and Anne’s work with marginalized communities, gender equality and women’s empowerment has awarded her nationwide recognition. VCT is now used as a technique for HIV testing and treatment all over Africa.
She worked in partnership with Nobel Peace Prize winner and Kenyan environmental and political activist Wangari Maathi planting trees in Kibera and working on HIV awareness campaigns with her.
I discovered Anne while researching urban farming in slums and her extensive programs in Kibera implementing sack gardens to create a food program for her school during the years of 2004 - 2015 entered into the spotlight. She created employment for Kibera youth through the selling of her locally grown veggies and taught many youth groups how to do it. Despite the success of her urban farm it was all destroyed including the school along with a huge section of Kibera when the city decided to build a railroad through the shantytown. During the following 2 years they used a temporary shelter for a school and in 2017 the World Bank stepped in to build a new school a spacious permanent structure along the newly built railway.
The work of KICOSHEP is unique because of their extensive experience with adults and children living with HIV/AIDS.
The kids living with HIV are strictly monitored with ARV treatment and are often sick at school. There is a sick room for them and they are also away a lot so the schedule is very flexible and special programs are in place to accommodate them.
In October 2020, we will install phase 1 of a permaculture food forest food program in Kitgum, Northern Uganda to serve the 295 girls, 35 of which are blind. It will also serve as a small demonstration farm and learning centre for the community impacting close to 1000 people.
MP’s Notes From The Field
The Kitgum area is in desperate need for regenerative agricultural skills and vocational training. Working with community leader Patrick Paul Kidega who attended our 2019 permaculture training and projects at Kakamega School for Deaf Children and Dream Farm is the surest way to bring food/nutrition security, permaculture education and poverty alleviation to this area.
Not that long ago the area suffered horribly during the civil war of the 1980s until the early 90s and is still feeling the repercussions. While here we visited Palabek Refugee Settlement which is host to over 40,000 South Sudanese refugees.
Our friends at various local organizations are helping to educate families about farming and are implementing some permaculture principles in homestead gardens for over 2000 families in the settlement. We truly believe that connecting with other organizations doing similar work to ours is integral to success, sustainability and progress of our projects. We will bring on several partners for this project and train community members.
Sometimes one feels hopeless in encountering people who have surmounted unimaginable obstacles and hearing unbearable stories of violence but it remains that food is a necessity of life and if the growing of it brings us together then maybe we can find liberation by doing it in a loving, enduring, connected and altruistic way.