As a first-time visitor at Companionship of Works Association (COWA) Banda, you will be taken up by the astonishing beauty of the institution’s compound. Never will you miss to ask who is behind all this, so nice that it is hard to tell whether these amazing plants, are for food or decoration. Most of them are leafy vegetables of different species; onions, collard greens (commonly known as Sukuma Wiki) and many more. By the time you get to know that Patience Mirembe and Bildard Ekinu, a pair of 2022 final agribusiness students at COWA are behind this scientific art, you will be surprised at seeing the duo, so young, brilliant and entrepreneurial.
Reach Out Mbuya, under the Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVC) program has been sponsoring the two at COWA, an institution that gives agribusiness, welding and hair and beauty skills to young people. Amidst their busy schedules, Patience and Bildard find time to tend to their plants, with a lot of passion as though caring to little humans. The duo also manages a green house in which they grow cucumber and green pepper.
ROM fosters purposeful careers for her OVC and on identifying careers of interest tries to enroll them where the desired trades can be learnt.
Patience tending to her plants
Having completed senior four, Patience could not afford tuition to continue with secondary education, until ROM gave her a chance to enroll at COWA. Hers is a unique but an inspiring story, of a girl who has passion in agribusiness, a male dominated career. She however attributes her success to ROM, which paid up all her fees at COWA to gain skills in the trade. Her dream is to continue with it so as to improve her life and also help others learn. She hopes to start up a farm on which she will be growing vegetables for sale. It will also act as a demonstration farmstead. She learnt poultry keeping as well, a skill she does with a lot of love. This is demonstrated in the chicken house, where she carries chicks with a lot of love and professionalism. Currently, Patience has enrolled for a National Diploma in Agriculture at COWA and is steadily progressing.
Bildard with his former Principal at the demonstration garden at Mukono during the follow up visit
As for Bildard, he is so thankful to ROM for giving him an opportunity to study agribusiness. “To me, this is a dream come true. I can never stop thanking Reach Out Mbuya for such love and help given to me.” He said in an interview with a Reach Out staff recently. Like Patience, Bildard’s dream is to start a farm on which he can grow these crops for sale and also train other children like him.
ROM followed Bildard to find out how he is fairing in life after graduation at COWA, we got him at Mukono district local government headquarters where he was contracted by the Ministry of Agriculture to raise a cabbage and tomato demonstration garden.
Chrispine Wanyahoro, the Principle at COWA says that Reach Out Mbuya supports a number of students at the institution, and all of them complete when they can sustain themselves. When asked about Bildard and Patience, Chrispine, shouts all praises for the duo, who have lived an exemplary lifestyle at the institute. She adds that there is no doubt that these two will emerge successful agriculturalists in Uganda.
Bildard and Patience caring for their plants at COWA