Yesterday, a team from Rationale joined St. Jude on a very special trip to their food security farm in Nwoya District (the district just to the southwest of Gulu). Our students are very familiar with the farm; they often work on the farm during their holiday breaks in order to give back to the larger St. Jude community and to learn important agricultural skills. The farm is a familiar space for most of Rationale’s team, which on this trip included Aciro Gloria, one of Rationale’s student-scholars, Ocitti David Okech, Rationale’s mentor, and Matthew, Rationale’s founder and director. The older women who serve as adopted mothers for the younger children at St. Jude also regularly visit the farm to help produce the food that their children consume back at the Children’s Home in Gulu. There is one group, however, that is not familiar with the farm: the children themselves.
St. Jude currently has almost 150 youth in their full-time care. Many rarely – if ever – visit the farm, as a result of both practical concerns (how to transport and then watch over so many children on the farm) and issues of safety. Yesterday was a special visit where we brought about twenty-five of the youngest children who stay at St. Jude to the farm in order to learn about where their food comes from and how it is produced. For some, this was their first time leaving the compound, for others, their first time leaving Gulu. They sat in absolute wonder and with progressively widening smiles as they struggled to see over edge of the window. With wide eyes they danced to the radio and sang in unison in the back of the truck throughout the hour-long drive.
As Denis, the farm’s manager, showed David and Matthew around the new fields, Julius accompanied the children as they learned about each of the crops being produced on the farm (maize, cassava, groundnuts, bananas, rice, beans, millet, boo, eggplant, and others) and participated in the many activities that their regular upkeep requires. They toured some of the hundreds of acres of land on the property and at mid-day each enjoyed a fresh plate of posho [a starchy food made from boiling maize flour] and beans produced and cooked directly on the farm. This is a meal they often have in Gulu without any idea where it comes from. Yesterday we were able to change that.
We believe strongly in the importance of lifelong learning, a process that must start early. While Rationale is intent on focusing on secondary and university youth, we were happy to join St. Jude for this fantastic community-building visit to their farm in Nwoya.