Your imagination cannot provide the level of detail necessary to fully understand how it feels to have such deep poverty thrust in front of your face, and to be frank, there is no escaping it.
We stepped off the plane in Entebbe and it was 2am local time. By the time we reached Kira it was 3am and we were all shattered, and we crawled straight into our beds and the most beautiful building I ever had the fortune to stay in; it’s a combination of local wood and tiling and is open plan and open sided. By breakfast several hours later, I felt right at home.
Our first day consisted of recovering from jet lag and taking a walk around the farm with the trainees. I had Brenda and Sharon greet me, and they took me to see their individual gardens that they have so much pride in, where crops like sweet potato and cassava grow.
They stroked the tall stems with love as they talked and I had a sense that this was probably the only thing they had ever been able to call theirs, and the gardens came to represent not just fields of basic crops but a testament to the happiness that they feel at Kira, where as they themselves have been nurtured, encouraged and have flourished, so have their crops.
Loud and Passionate Singing
Devotion is the trainee’s form of worship and was one of the most uplifting experiences. An hour of loud and passionate singing, drumming and clapping at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day exposes you, as a visitor, to the real raw joy that their faith brings to them.
At the end of each service, the drumming slows down to the slow sombre hum, the trainees stop dancing and stand with their hands clasped together, withdrawing into themselves in quiet personal prayers. They whisper fervently, and for many, tears stream down their cheeks as they express their gratitude.
It occurred to me, through many conversations, that they are simply happy to be alive and well. This was also demonstrated by the children that we met when teaching at the school, out on day trips or near the farm. Some of us had brought packs of bubbles with us, and a class of young, hungry children with pinched faces and unhappy eyes transformed in to a laughing, gurgling mass of movement as they all jumped to catch the bubbles, stumbling and falling over only to pop back up and start jumping again.
It was really rather heart-warming to watch, for although we could not provide for them at that moment the food and clean water they so desperately desired, for just a few moments they were laughing uncontrollably and looked to any observer like happy and carefree young children.
The Joy of Giving Gifts
Moments like these were experienced every day. We saw a lot of children in a lot of poverty in a lot of places, and to be honest it was quite overwhelming most of the time. But we were not so paralyzed by shock that we were entirely immobilized; on the contrary, I am pleased to say our group recognized that we could do little in those moments other than attempt to make them smile. And the joy our gifts of sweets, bubbles and notebooks seemed to bring to them will live with me forever.
I went to Uganda believing it to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so was determined to make the most of the two weeks. My plans for the future were along the lines of studying Social Anthropology at university, and after that it was all a bit hazy and unspecified.
Foreign Aid Worker
I’ve come back from Kira Farm, determined to study a combined honours degree of International Development and Social Anthropology, with a view to going on to work as foreign aid worker, ideally as a disaster relief aid worker. I’ll be taking a gap year following the end of sixth form, travelling through Asia and Africa taking part in various charity placements.
For the visit to Kira Farm did not just provide me with some incredible and unbelievable memories. Uganda has become a country of hope; a recent history tinged with war and conflict sees a generation of youngsters determined to provide better lives for themselves, their parents and their children. My experiences in Uganda provided me with ambition, with a belief that a country with such extensive poverty does not have to be that way forever.
Endless Success Stories
That’s what Amigos are doing: there are so many success stories of trainees that leave Kira and a year later have developed their own businesses, using the skills they learnt. This provided me with focus, to work hard through my sixth form course to open as many doors for myself as possible.
It provided me with emotional strength, for what you are exposed to is difficult and challenging and it leaves you shaking with anger at the disparity of wealth around the world; you are forced to confront a bitter frustration as you want to do all you can to help but haven’t got the resources to help everyone.
Appreciating Simple Things
But overriding all of this, is the gift of happiness that Kira Farm gave to me. After a just two days, the anxiety disorders I had arrived with had completely dispersed. I found joy the way trainees did, in simple things, by admiring the crops, dancing at Devotion or walking around the farm. I learnt to appreciate even more things that aren’t always tangible. The trainees taught me what real gratitude is, and what real courage is. You begin to realize that you can’t help everyone, but you can help someone.
I think of Kira Farm very fondly, and for me it opened a door to my life post-school, one I cannot wait to walk through. It won’t be a once-in-a-lifetime thing for me, I’ll be back to Uganda and back to Kira, undoubtedly.
So yeah, all-in-all, Kira Farm changed my life.
Upper 6th Hockerill College
Amigos Worldwide is a registered Charity/NGO both in the UK and Uganda.
Amigos Worldwide, Registered in England, Company Number 6122350, Registered Charity Number 1119450
Registered Office 7A Beech Grove, Pilton, Barnstaple, Devon. EX31 1PZ
(Amigos International and Amigos are working names of Amigos Worldwide)