A ray of hope out of Africa

Joseph Bulmer

Sarah Howells, from Braunton, reflects on her recent trip to Kira Farm in Uganda, to see the work of Barnstaple charity Amigos.

IT is almost impossible to understand the true grip of poverty until you have experienced it firsthand.

But when you meet someone like 26-year-old Ezuma, who lost his father to AIDs and now has to support not only his wife and two children, but his dying mother and five siblings as well, it puts things into perspective.

Or when you talk to Gerald, 16, who at the age of only eight was abducted from his home by rebels, trained to use a gun and forced to kill, you realise the secure lives we lead back at home.

It is a wonder these young people find hope in such a desperate situation, but at Kira Farm they find their lives transformed.

By providing vocational training, sustainable farming techniques and holistic guidance, the 38 young students can hope to put their pasts behind them.

Despite the struggle he will face supporting his family, Ezuma is optimistic: “Amigos has changed our lives and they have given us ways to get out of poverty in our nation. I know after here I will never be in poverty again. I now have my survival.”

And his optimism is completely justified, as I found out when I visited some of last year’s students in Masindi district.

When William, 21, came to Kira his mother had committed suicide, his father’s new wife was abusing him, and he did not know how best to use the land he had been left by his grandmother.

Now, his plot of land is thriving, and he was positively beaming amongst his flourishing jungle of orange trees, avocados, potatoes and bananas, all farmed using the skills he developed during his year at Kira.

William now has a bright future ahead of him, and with the number of students at Kira Farm growing every year, Amigos is equipping young Ugandans with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

But the work of Kira Farm would not be possible without its supporters.

CEO Phil Pugsley is looking for people to join the charity’s latest fund-raising initiative, The 800 Club, and help support the students at Kira Farm.

He said: “If we can get 800 people to give just �1 a week and giftaid, we can run Kira. For just �1 a week you can help train, care, feed and transform a Kira student – it’s a bargain!”

To read more of Sarah’s trip, click on the blog link on the top right of this page.

For more information about The 800 Club visit the Amigos website www.amigos.org.uk