The Red Hot Chilli Pupils
A spicy BMS World Mission project is helping teenagers still living with the effects of Joseph Kony’s violence
A generation of Acholi people were raised in internally displaced person’s (IDP) camps. Their parents fled their homes in northern Uganda due to the civil war raging there between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government forces. Those who weren’t forced to fight were robbed of their homes and their independence.
Twenty years later, BMS is working alongside people still suffering because of the LRA insurgency. People who have returned to their homes in northern Uganda in peace time to find they are unable to adequately provide for their families.
Most people in Gulu, northern Uganda, survive by farming. But there’s a generation of people who don’t have the knowledge to farm enough to feed their families, let alone send their children to school. That’s what being stuck in a displaced people’s camp for more than a decade will do.
Oloya Morris is the oldest of five children. A while back, he was suspended from school for not paying his fees. Before his mum, Apio Christine, joined the chilli project, there was no way she would have been able to cover the cost of his education. He would probably have had to drop out of school.
Thanks to her supply of freshly grown chilli, Apio was able to quickly sell a sack of produce and get him back into school. Praise God!
In 2013, BMS farming and soil experts ran a chilli growing trial with a few struggling farmers in the region. They taught them how to effectively grow and harvest chilli, and how to sell it for a good price. Most people in the area grow cotton, sesame and maize – all commodities that sell cheaply at the market. Chilli, on the other hand, can be sold for export at a much higher price.
Local Ugandan farmers really took hold of the project, and it was a big success. So much so that we expanded it into other villages in 2014. The trial ended in 2015, but the farmers involved are still growing chilli. Their ability to grow a new crop is having a big impact on their families. They can now afford to keep their teenage children in school. Pupils given an education in the name of Jesus, thanks to your giving to BMS and the versatility of the chilli plant!
They’re also learning to work together so that everyone can benefit.
“The farmers are now networking and co-ordinating together,” says Genesis, a BMS worker in Uganda. “They are learning how important it is to live and be in harmony with their neighbours.
"Now, when the chilli is being collected they mobilise each other. Sometimes, during the period when farmers urgently need money for example, they can group themselves and bulk their chilli to make a full a sack rather than each farmer having a small amount dried which makes selling more difficult.”
We don’t want another generation of Acholi children to have their futures stolen by the violence of the past. It’s really exciting to hear that farmers have pressed on with the BMS project and that young people are getting to go to school and gain knowledge and skills thanks to something as simple and spicy as chilli!
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This article first appeared on the website of BMS World Mission and is used with permission.