2022 – New Hope with Many Challenges
Schools are now open in 2022 after two years of closure due to Covid restrictions. Children once again have big smiles on their faces, parents are happy and there is new energy in the cities, towns and villages. Challenges are a shortage of teachers, shortage of schools, high rates of dropouts & teen pregnancies, and a big step backwards in English language communication (education is all in English in Uganda).
For Our Trees Our Future, the school doors are open wide for OTOF to come, educate on creation care and plant trees in partnership with the schools. Our team needs to increase in numbers to seize the opportunities before us. A deputy mayor of one of Uganda biggest new cities has invited us to partner in planting trees in every school that has land in the city. The Deputy Mayor has said this work we are doing has been her vision for schools. She told us that some schools have the holes dug but no trees. We’ve already started to plan and plant with city and education ministry officials.
This week we will have a major tree planting day at schools with staff, students and volunteers. These days are full of excitement and energy coming from the school children!
Each school where we plant trees will receive up to 10 copies of Cheryl’s book, “Kizito the Storyteller and His Friends“. Even a child can make a difference.
Training Young People (Head, Heart & Hands) – Doing What We Can
Our residential training capacity at our Genesis Learning Centres is full. After two years of nearly all institutions being closed across the nation, there is a huge gap in locations for young people to go for internships, practicums and agribusiness training from colleges, unversities & organizations, and agribusinesses in Uganda. Since January we have had a continual intake stream to do what we can to meet this need for youth hungry to learn. In the last month, we have been approached by the nation’s largest institutions to create partnerships for training & hosting their students. Note they are coming to us; deans of colleges, doctors, Phd candidates, ag business leaders, internship coordinators, non-profit organization leaders…
It’s been our desire to have great impact in Uganda through our holistic (head, heart & hands) training of especially youth. We want to raise up community leaders, tree champions, passionate about creation care, youth finding passion & new skills and often simply starting youth off on a new path of hope. Last year we managed to do what very few organizations could do during the big lockdown. We held 5 residential (8-10 week) Intensive Agribusiness Internships / Training Programs. We gave hope and purpose to 100+ young people… we did what we could.
Now is the time to increase our capacity; more experienced quality staff that can lead and teach, improve and increase our facilities, restructure our leadership team and administration. Very exciting but we do not have what it takes to move to this next level of impact & influence. I’ve been told many times “Nick, you don’t charge enough and you let too many people come for free”. Yes, I know, what I can do? I don’t want to block opportunity for a young woman or man. Economy is bad, little money around. Scholarships are needed for most of the students coming in. Very few students can pay.
Our Trees Our Future – Our Nurseries
We are expecting 500 breadfruit seedlings coming from California arriving 2nd March. Breadfruit is a wonderful food security tree, a staple food in Caribbean and South Pacific Island nations. Look up the benefits of breadfruit.
Already since the beginning of 2022 we have potted over 100,000 seedlings (mangoes, oranges, jackfruit, avocado, cashew nut, giant lira, neem, and other varieties). Some of these seedlings will be ready for Our Trees Our Future teams to be planted during anticipated longer rains (March-June) and other seedlings will be ready to planted during the short rains (Sept – Nov) later in the year.
Our Trees Our Future – River Nile Farm & Genesis Training Centre
There has been no significant rainfall in our River Nile Farm area since October and the river which has covered much of our land for nearly two years is finally receding. A strange combination… no rain yet too much water… and then fire!
… and then fire!
Friday, for nearly 24 hours everyone at the farm and training centre battled a fire that threatened much of the land. The many acres that was covered with water for nearly two years had grown very thick grass under the surface and now as the river receded… a big fire that was difficult to put out. African style, everyone pitched in with tree branches, sticks, hoes and machetes to fight the fire. Workers and students, together over 40 fire fighters! God protected everyone, just all dirty and tired. After it was under control, a nice rain helped put out the remaining embers.
What is needed at the River Nile farm?
Additional direct Solar powered pumps are needed to irrigate the acres of fruit & timber trees, food forest & vegetable gardens as well as provide water for food preparation, bathrooms and drinking. The direct solar pumps are a great solution… low maintenance, no batteries to charge, no fuel, easy to manage. See https://ennos.ch/
We’ve extended our nursery at River Nile Farm to reach another district of Uganda and have close to 50,000 seedlings ready for distribution. All of our trainees learn basics of nursery management and tree care during their time with us. Valuable skills for starting their own projects and becoming “tree champions”. Extra nursery space is needed for another 50,000 seedlings.
In our partnership with the Buganda Kingdom (largest tribe in Uganda), we plan four cohorts for Buganda youth in 2022. The first program is well under way always evenly divided between young men and women. 10 weeks on site, intensive agribusiness training for youth that have limited opportunities for further education and skills development. At this location we plan to train between 80-100 youth from poor rural communities in 2022.
Along the Kenya Coast
Last week we shared with 35 pastors and other leaders about the importance of planting trees, creation care and new possibilities of moving from poverty through sustainability to profitability. We discussed God’s works & intentions starting from the Creator/Creation story in Genesis and then discussed products from different trees along the Kenya coast from Somalia to Tanzania. Sometimes the answers to our needs are right in front of us!
It was great day with John & Habona Kisamwa (Kenyan friends for over 40 years) and Hilco & Joyce Stevens from Elmira, Ontario. Joyce is Nick’s sister. Together our heart is to see genuine, long term relief from poverty for the coastal peoples. John & Habona’s son, Jonathan has been spearheading tree planting along the coast while John has been training 1,200+ pastors with a holistic message of transformation of communities.
Will 2022 be the year that you can visit us?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we had more visitors from abroad this year. Come work along side our staff & trainees, plant some trees, help with training, enjoy the great weather here near the equator… and we’ll arrange a safari for you in one Uganda’s amazing national parks.
Prayer, Thanksgiving & Funding Requests
~ Prayer for our visa renewal process in early 2022 to go smoothly. Not going very smoothly at the present time.
~ Thanks for our time with Hilco & Joyce. Very special.
~ For scholarships. See training opportunities for Uganda’s youth scheduled for in 2022. As we shared above, the needs are real and and the impact great.
~ $500 CAD to sponsor a young man or women (covers all training, accommodation, food, staff costs and some transport for 10 week progam)
~ $20,000-$30,000 – Immediate Facilities Improvement & Equipment Budget
Includes: 6 steel long-lasting double deckers, new washrooms for the young men, completion of unfinished rooms for accommodating the students, improvements on the site solar system, additional classroom tables & supplies, a new direct solar pump to provide more water for bathrooms.
~ For funds for Tree Planting, Book Distribution & Education – this community work is ongoing. $60 will assist a family with 20-30 trees.
~ $10,000 for 5 direct solar pumps with tubing/tanks to move water throughout the Our Trees Our Future training/demonstration farm on the River Nile. See https://ennos.ch/
Gifts of any size are appreciated towards any of these projects.
Thank you! May God bless you!
Nick & Cheryl