A sister never knows what she may find when she embarks upon a new ministry. In 2018, when Sister Nancy Rose Njeri Njoroge, CSC, arrived in Jinja, Uganda, her assignment was to create faith programs for children who lived near Holy Cross Bugembe Parish.
But Holy Cross sisters are keen observers of people and situations beyond their direct ministries. Always, they strive to discern needs to create a more just world. Sister Nancy could see that many of the children in her programs had not had a recent meal. In fact, their families barely managed one meal a day.
Since 2016, the parish had been doing what it could by taking up extra collections to purchase food staples. Too often, however, the collection was not enough. Sister Nancy envisioned a different way.
“As we continue to farm the land and use proper land management principles, we expect the land will give greater yields over time.”
— Sister Nancy
Farming in Uganda
Uganda is a country of fertile lands. The southern half, where Jinja is located, benefits from two annual growing seasons. Seeing fallow land in front of her, Sister Nancy applied for a $10,000 grant from the Congregation’s Ministry With the Poor Fund to lease a 6-acre plot that could be communally farmed. And so, the I-Thirst program was born to help ease the hunger and thirst of the poorest of this poor parish.
Sister Nancy also purchased farm tools and seed. She and others identified 150 people who qualified to participate as I-Thirst members. Next, she brought in a local agriculture officer to teach them principles of land management and stewardship.
“We have also helped most of the people make good use of their own small lands by motivating them to do farming in simple ways to boost their nutrition,” says Sister Nancy.
Sharing the yield
The people have made the land productive. “After harvesting the first season of beans and maize, they had food for a period of time, though it did not last until the next harvest,” she says. “As we continue to farm the land and use proper land management principles, we expect the land will give greater yields over time.” She laments, however, that climate change has affected weather patterns, making the seasons unpredictable. “We continue to plant with the hope that the rains will fall in the expected time.”
So far, the land has been yielding each season about 30 to 45 bags of maize that are ground into posho (flour). I-Thirst members share the yield. Now, instead of receiving just 1 kilogram of posho, the members are reaping 4 kilograms for themselves and their families.Perhaps the best harvest of all has been an unexpected one. Before I-Thirst, people tended to isolate in their homes. But members have been forming new relationships among themselves. They gather to plan and organize their 45-minute trip to the farm. They share ideas, stories of success, tales of challenges and, always, support for each other, realizing the power in community.
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