Charles reports: Garden making progress

The lunch project is thriving! Since the day our bright interns noticed that other farmers on the island plant cassava closer together, we have been working with the parents to optimise the garden. We need to grow more food that becomes available at the right moments during the year, preferably at the start of each school term.

During conversations with the parents we noticed different ideas about how to do this. Some recommend to expand the garden while others prefer to grow more food on the same piece of land. Eventually, with his great people skills, Charles got them to reach an agreement. They are first going to optimise the current garden before considering to clear another piece of land. With this plan in mind we have been investing in new crops and efficient use of the garden since the beginning of this year.

I hear you wondering. Who is Charles? Charles Muwonge is working with us since January 2016 and is doing a fantastic job so far liaising with the parents and the school, keeping track of receipts and brainstorming about next steps. I know him as an ambitious, smart man who is full of ideas about improving people's wellbeing. He is an engineer by profession and is self-employed. His objective is to go back to school to do one more course that can broaden his skills and increase his opportunities in Uganda. Elsus Foundation gives volunteers in Uganda a monthly compensation for their valuable help, which is an expense partly sponsored by myself. To anticipate to his challenge of saving for his education, we offered the opportunity to use the compensation as a saving scheme. We are keeping his 70.000 ush (20 euros/16 pounds) each month until it adds up to the amount he needs for his tuition fee so he can resume his studies.

Now back to the garden. Every time Charles visits the island, he writes a report about his experience. Here you can read a recent report written before the 4 week holiday in May/June, which will give you a better idea of the struggles and achievements the school and the parents face on a daily basis. But more than anything else it shows the dedication of everyone involved:

"Am so grateful to God for giving me an opportunity to put a positive impact in some one’s life through Elsus. May God bless Elsus, bless Milou and other board members. On 12/may/2o16 I managed to move to Bussi for the project work and though the road was slippery I moved safely.

Coming back was a beat risky because there was tear gas in Kampala, the police try to stop the opposition leader who sneaked out of his home, where he was house arrested. This was done to ensure security for the visitors who came to witness the presidential swearing in. I was like that I had another route to use and I manage to survive.

On my arrival I met the parents waiting for me though as you know the African time, some came late and they found us started already. The garden is promising, meaning we have a lot of the growing crops but we have no ready food to feed the children next term due to a miscommunication in the system. Some of the food we have: sweet potatoes and bananas, last term the school was depending more on bananas but as you know it’s not continuous. For the sweet potatoes it will need something like two month to be ready. So we are likely to have beans ready in the middle of the term. This shows that the garden relaxed some were and it was caused by a miscommunication within the parents. According to the parent they say that after the meeting we had together ,they have started working as a team and looking for strategies on how to make very good use of their time in the garden.

The crops are growing so well because its rainy season but again we pray that the rain should reduce. Parents believe that too much of the rain may result into low yields. They also planted more bananas; I think this will help us to have a reliable banana plantation. Parents also planted cassava in the same plot with the bean and maize. This was done considering their growth and we think planting beans and maize in the same plot with cassava, it will help a lot to have a continuous supply of food. This will be achieved by the difference in time of growth. Also the oranges are doing well though some failed to germinate and I think this was caused by the: termites, too much sunshine and competition with weeds. The greens it’s still in the nursery bed and very soon we hope to move it to the main garden."

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