Yesterday, Monday, 23rd November 2020, Owomugisha texted me through Facebook Messenger.
“Because of knowing you I am a happy owner of 70 turkeys, which I would not have bought without your connection. I even have ducks clucking away. Last week I harvested 5 acres of Hibiscus. All this I did during the COVID-19 period. I am aiming for 10 acres of hibiscus and 200 turkeys soon.
I sell my hibiscus produce to buyers in Owino Market, but I’m looking for better buyers, like those buyers who sell to wine makers.
Knowing you has done me well. All honour to you.”
Owomugisha’s turkeys that she got from her hibiscus production profits.
Owomugisha’s gratitude is born out of me unintentionally becoming among her role models and mentors. She first contacted me in February 2015, texting me via Facebook Messenger:
“I thank God I read your article. It’s such a blessing that you give out free information. Those who have ears and eyes let them use those senses. No one will say you didn’t give information.”
I am not certain which of my articles Owomugisha read. I have written some on my Alinga Farms Atorot brand (dried calyces of hibiscus sabdariffa fruit) value chain that I developed, and it is likely she read one them.
Following which in February 2015 and through June 2019, she severally texted me via Facebook Messenger, persistently requesting my help:
“I would like to get seeds from you for the hibiscus plant. My farm is in Gomba Uganda.”
“Can I kindly ask that you save some hibiscus seeds for me to plant? I can pick them from you in a few weeks. Eyalama noi (thank you very much in Ateso).”
“Please if you have red hibiscus seeds I need 20kgs as soon as possible.”
“Sister, I am waiting on answer to hibiscus seeds 20kgs please red type.”
I am still hoping for hibiscus seeds from Cathy (my personal assistant). She is not responding to my messages.”
In June 2019, I followed up with Cathy, and I instructed her to make sure that Owomugisha is accessed the hibiscus seed that she had requested. “A note of gratitude. I got my hibiscus seeds through Cathy and planted them. We are doing very well. Blessings and honour!” Owomugisha texted in July 2019, via Facebook Messenger.
I have never physically met Owomugisha and without being introduced, I would not be able to know her if I met her. This makes her recognition of my contribution to her success ever so exciting. I am humbled and exhilarated at the same time.
I owe a huge debt to my mentor Stan Burkey, the auther of the book: “People First – A Guide to Self-Reliant, Participatory Rural Development, with whom I worked alongside for over 20 years, innovating and implementing the change agent training programme in Uganda.
Owomugisha’s success story is what we at CPAR Uganda Ltd are trying to replicate through our mentoring programme for disadvantaged young adults. We are making some progress, irrespective of the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic hit and we couldn’t continue with our training schedule which required physical contact in class and in the community, we piloted giving some of our promising innovators small cash grants on the basis of their proposals for income generation.
Their success rate has confirmed to us the importance of the theoretical aspects of our programme. The innovators under mentoring need the theoretical aspects so they can efficiently do the practical implementation.
We are delighted that it seems feasible that next month, December 2020, we will be able to resume classwork. We have scheduled a non-residential three-day training session from Thursday, 17th to Saturday, 19th December at our Lira Learning Centre.
It will be a tooling training session on how to prepare cash flows and to use them for making informed investment decisions; and as tools to guide implementation of projects. In addition, each innovator who attends the session will be assisted to finalise a cash flow for one of their chosen projects.
Preparations are underway to re-open our Lira Learning Center for business.
We are grateful to our donors for your patience and we promise to stay the course until we have replicated many more success stories, such as Owomugisha’s, among disadvantage young adults in Uganda for their own benefit and for the benefit of their wider communities.
By Ms. Norah Owaraga, Managing Director