SDG Staff Profiles: Meet Babra!November 12, 2015
Babra Akello, aged 27, Is African Revival’s Agricultural Project Officer. Originally from Lira, she moved to Gulu together with her husband, with whom she has four year-old twins Jemimmah and Jesse. Babra completed a Certificate in General Agriculture at Busitema University in Soroti district, and is now studying part time for her degree in Agriculture at Uganda Martys University. After roles with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction and Action Against Hunger, she joined African Revival in January 2012 as an Agricultural Extension Worker, before being promoted to Agricultural Project Officer. Here, Babra tells us more about her role with AR and her long-standing passion for farming.
In my degree in agriculture I’m learning a lot. For example, the aspects of agricultural development, sustainable management of resources and different techniques of growing crops and handling animals. It’s a broad course.
My responsibilities as Agricultural Project Officer are to ensure that I directly implement African Revival’s project with the beneficiaries in the schools that we work with and to offer trainings in agricultural practices, VSLA and business skills. And also I do represent AR at a parish level, district level and country level. Now, I am implementing the school demonstration garden in 8 schools in Amuru district, so ensuring that all the good agricultural practices are taught and ensuring that what I am training the beneficiaries, they are also learning and replicating at the household level. And with the pupil’s clubs, ensuring that they are taught business models so that they can be well acquainted with the life after school, so that in case they don’t continue with their studies they can be self-reliant and not dependent on their parents.
I have done many vocational trainings while working for African Revival and other organisations. I underwent defensive motorbike training. This is more of a safety thing, when you are riding, what you should observe, and actually how to overcome some of the faults or breakdowns in the motorcycle, so you can fix them without taking them to the mechanics. Just to keep you safe when you are driving.
During my free time I like interacting with the children. With my own, but even with other children. The children like me even if I reach home you may not even understand who is my child or who is not my child because every time I am surrounded by children so I just enjoy interacting with them in my free time. The children collect their homework and I actually help them because as a parent, you should guide them. Where we live, there are many children and they are going in the same school, and they converge together and we do it together.
Being a child-centred person, I so much enjoy working with the children involved in the SDG Pupil’s Entrepreneurship Club. I just enjoy focusing on the future of the children. And the other thing I enjoy most is also working with the community that African Revival works with. It is not easy in the north to find parents in the school, but what I like most about our project is that it brings the parents closer to the school, and makes them know the benefit of education. Children can’t move forward without the support of their parents, so therefore African Revival having their projects bring parents closer to the school makes me more interested, and I enjoy it.
When I was younger, I wanted to be a veterinary doctor. In my village, we had only one veterinary doctor, and my father used to have animals, chickens, goats, cows, and each time this vet comes, he would treat the animals and he would be given a big sum of money. And I put into my mind that I must study and become a vet doctor so that I can treat these animals of ours on my own! And I wanted to actually out-compete him in the village so that I could also be the one getting such money from the communities around us. I would not say my dream changed, because I went for a certificate in general agriculture, whereby I also studied animals and crops at the same time, so I can even treat the animals.
I started farming when I was six years old. I planted maize in that first year and I got 13,000 shillings. And I remember my mother brought a chicken with that money, and the chicken multiplied so so much, and it helped me. And then when I was ten, I planted cassava, and it so happened that that year, there was too much hunger by the time my cassava was getting ready, and it helped in sustaining our family – some was sold and some was consumed.
I secured some land in Nwoya, so now I am doing my farming in Nwoya. At first I brought 6 achres, now I’ve added 4, so I own 10 acres with my husband as a family. I have a casual worker, so I am renting for the casual worker, but I plan this December to put up some small house there, so the worker can stay there. I very much want to expand, because with time I want to get back to farming. That’s the plan I have.
In the future, I want to farm commercially. I want to have a diversity of enterprises. Right now I have some perennials, I have some fruit trees, I have field crops, and I plan to integrate vegetables, so I want to have actually a diversity of enterprises. And soon I want to buy some animals. At the moment I am still using people’s labour in terms of hiring tractors and ox-ploughs. But already I have brought my own plough. So this December I am planning to buy the ox animals so that I do not have to continue hiring and keep more of the profits.
I am very much happy with the role that agriculture plays in my life. Agriculture provides a source of food for myself, my home and income generation. In Uganda, as a whole, agriculture plays a vital role and is the backbone of the country.