Sunday, September 19, 2010

'Nyakwach-for-work' program

In Karamoja, the NGO's (Non-Governmental Organizations) sometimes administrate programs called 'Cash for Work or Food for Work'. It works just the way it sounds. They hire locals to build a road or a dam...and then they pay them with either money or food. The programs are always short-term but a way for people to earn a little something.

Now to my story. Terrill & I went to visit the garden of our friend, Bilah Charles. The old man wanted to show us around and proudly point out his produce. During the course of the tour, he lamented that he no longer has children to pick his beans when they're ready for harvest. The beans are called K-20 and they look like kidney beans. Many plants were ready for harvest and some beans were even rotting, from pestilence or mold. I felt sorry for the man and offered to help him pick beans the following day. He was happy with that and said he'd come pick me up in the morning. He never showed up, so I asked a young girl (12 years old) to take me to Charles's garden. Alice led the way and I trailed her. As is common to my days, five children trailed behind me. We found the garden and walked in among the corn stalks. Charles had planted quite sporadically and beans were everywhere...under pumpkin leaves or beside tomato plants. We started picking beans and within minutes I realized that my plastic bag wasn't going to be big enough. I took off my jacket and we made it into a storage container for the bean pods. The children worked beside me for an hour before getting restless. Our bag was full anyway so we decided to head home. At our compound, the children showed me how to separate the bean from the pods and get the chaff out of the bean mixture. At the end of our 'harvesting session' I asked the children what they wanted for payment. The answer was unanimous. They wanted something called nyakwach....otherwise known as safety pins. Who knew I could get such an ample return on my safety pins? I have dubbed the event my 'nyakwach for work program'.

On the way back from harvesting beans that afternoon, I was handed this child by her sister, Siti. Kunume is 1.5 years old but is small for her age. Everyone thought it was quite funny that Kunume fit in my purse. Now that's what I call a multi-purpose bag.


Jennie said...

wow - do you need a new supply of pins maybe? :)

Tammy On the Go said...

I love it!

The Reeds said...

Nyakwach- what an interesting word! I wonder what its roots are?

I love the baby in your bag. And he looks THRILLED. :)!

So was Bilah happy you worked in the garden?

Anonymous said...

I will think of this story every time I use a safety pin now. I also want to know if Bilah was happy about your labors in his garden. Adorable baby in the bag! Mary

Amber said...

Jennie, I still have plenty of pins to dispense. Georgia, I think nyakwach comes from Ngakaramojong but is spelled a bit differently...probably akwach? And as for Bilah...I haven't heard from him yet. He was most likely drunk in his village. His wife did bring me a gift of a pumpkin later that day so I guess he was appreciative.