By Mainimo Edmond Nyuyki
The sudden eruption of COVID 19 pandemic has set the whole world off the balance. As a matter of fact, everyone is living the reality of such a historic outbreak. Most countries in the world have witnessed a national lockdown in an attempt to curb the prevalence of this deadly viral disease. This expedient effort has subjected most sectors in Uganda to a lockdown since March 30, 2020; with only the essential ones allowed to operate under strict directives from the ministry of health.
The phrase; “For Community Transformation” encapsulates the ideals of Gulu University. Nonetheless, community engagement has become a daunting task in this unprecedented time. Empowering rural farmers who play a key role in our agricultural value chains, unlocking the economic potential of those in post crises and poverty-stricken communities remains an urgent and unfinished business. One of the things that the world has to come in terms with is that this pandemic may tarry for a while and so, as a way of consolidating and accelerating what was realized before the outbreak of COVID 19, community transformation using all possible means remains a noble course to pursue.
I find nothing more fulfilling than working with smallholder farmers of the post conflict communities of Northern Uganda. Conducting field activities with them like business incubation and coaching, trainings on group dynamics, entrepreneurship (farming as a business) trainings and financial management trainings (VSLA Methodology) has been a great experience for me in this period. One has been so inspired and encouraged by the vigilance, discipline and compliance the rural community demonstrated with respect to the COVID 19 guidelines.
To these farmer groups, noncompliance to the guidelines is disservice to the entire nation. In addition, they have embraced this uncertain and challenging time with determination, resilience and faith that they will still succeed. For example, “Tute ber” farmers group of Nwoya district still represent her name (Hard work pays)as members still work relentlessly with the hope that their hard work will be rewarded. Tii Pi Ayim farmers group of Omoro district like the name (work for the future) is still actively working for the improvement of livelihood and Tic matek ryemo can farmers group of Omoro district just to name a few is still representing her name (Hard work alleviates poverty) by equally working diligently to unlock her economic potential. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean is a proverb one has used in encouraging farmers to save consistently in their VSLA. In the same light, do not underestimate your little contribution towards community transformation; start doing something because the ripple effect will be great.
My stay in Uganda and interactions with several communities like the refugee camps in West Nile region of Uganda has built in me the capacity to work in multicultural and diverse linguistic settings. I have gained a deeper spirit of pan Africanism and integration, ability to draw insightfully from experiences as well as a sense of responsibility necessary to give a meaningful contribution to the growth and development of Cameroon and Africa at large.
I am indebted to the MasterCard foundation and RUFORUM for toiling tirelessly to give hope to the African youth. Unquestionably, I have come to believe that for every steep uphill, there is always a gentle downhill. The gift of their time, energy, monumental support and unconditional love cannot be ignored.