In a country ravaged by violence less than a decade ago, the people in one Ugandan city are regaining their sense of community, independence and financial stability, thanks to BMS World Mission worker Alex Vickers and Ugandan supported partner worker Acaye Genesis.
How are they doing this? With pigs, of course.
In August 2013, 16 communities in Gulu, a city in northern Uganda, were given 10 piglets each to raise, breed and sell.
They had full freedom to manage their new livestock and could call on Genesis for his agricultural expertise.
For some of the communities, one or two people were chosen as managers and caretakers of the pigs.
In poorer villages, they knew that the strain of feeding and maintaining 10 growing animals would be too much for one or two to handle, especially, after last year’s failed harvest.
In places like these, the people banded together, shifting the responsibility to many instead of leaving it on a few.
Vickers and Genesis routinely checked on the pigs’ progress. Almost everywhere they went, they received stellar reports.
The villages were “working together like never before,” Vickers said. “People trusted each other more, helped each other on their farms and shared each other’s triumphs and failures.”
In the six years since the Lord’s Resistance Army’s Christmas Day massacre, people have turned their eyes to the future and worked to create better lives for themselves and their families.
Part of this stride forward is sustainable pig farming. “To see these fledgling communities so noticeably benefiting from pig farming is a blessing beyond expectations,” Vickers said.
These villages and communities are young, many of them rebuilt when the safety found in refugee camps was no longer a necessity.
In the villages where the community fed their pigs, farmers were able to buy them at a much lower cost.
“It is great to earn some money from selling piglets, but money comes and goes,” Vickers said. “What lasts longer is the knowledge that the people you live with really are your neighbors and that loving your neighbor as yourself is not only a blessing to them but also a blessing to you. Jesus really did know what he was talking about.”