Sisters in Uganda use agriculture to generate income to sustain ministry projects

Sr. Ernestine Akulu with one of the goats on the demonstration farm next to the Bishop Caesar Alisi Hospital in Luweero, Uganda (Melanie Lidman)

At a hospital in Luweero, Uganda, two hours outside the capital of Kampala, the children are sometimes discharged from the hospital with antibiotics and a female goat. Both the goat and the medicine come from an initiative created by Catholic sisters who noticed that many of the HIV-positive orphans they treated at the Bishop Caesar Asili Hospital were stunted and malnourished.

Relatives or community members adopted these orphans, but their outsider status meant they were often the last to get food, if the impoverished family had any to spare. The Missionary Sisters of Mother Mary of the Church got frustrated when they sent these children home. Although they provided medicine, without proper nutrition, the children did not improve.

Sr. Ernestine Akulu, the hospital administrator, estimates that about three to four children are abandoned at the hospital every year and that there are at least 200 orphans in the larger community surrounding Luweero. In order to encourage family members to step in and raise the children, the sisters started teaching income-generating projects for the caretakers. For the first project for caretakers, sisters distributed maize, beans and other crops to the families. Then they moved toward providing dairy goats.

The goat program in Luweero is part of a larger effort of sisters turning to agriculture for projects to create an income so they can continue providing services to the communities. Cows and pigs require too many resources to raise, but goats are smaller, simpler and reach reproductive age quicker. When they saw how effective goats could be for generating income, the sisters decided to expand to their community's most vulnerable members. They partnered with international organizations Heifer International and Just Like My Child to get the seed money for the first round of goats. They have distributed 400 so far, and hope to distribute another 200 this year.

Read the full story at Global Sisters Report.

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