Searching for Carolyn

On my last trip to Uganda I met Carolyn Dapar, a remarkable farmer in the Adekekwok sub-county just outside of the town of Lira. Carolyn had received training on raising livestock and crop diversification as part of a CPAR program and had become a trainer herself.

She was also very generous and made sure we all got sodas at the end of a long hot day. You don’t forget those things especially considering the poverty that has gripped this area for so long. I wanted to find out how she and her family were doing now.

The problem was finding Carolyn. There’s no phonebook in this part of rural Uganda and I had met her at a training center and not at her homestead. There are thousands of homesteads in the area. So where to start?

The search started with a photo I had of Carolyn at a training site. Juma, CPAR’s Lira office manager suggested we start at the Adekekwok sub county office. We were received by several sub county councillors and after some introductions (which can take some time!) the photo was passed around. We were advised to try a small crossroads trading centre down the road. To help our search, the local youth representative, Benson Quom, tagged along.

Benson Guom joins the search

Benson Guom joins the search

We headed off down the bumpy dusty road to the crossroads but no luck. No one recognized the lady in the photo or her name. They did suggest that we carry on another mile to where a distribution of vegetable seeds was taking place. If Carolyn was still around, these farmers would know.

Sure enough we were given directions to her home but when we got there, the place was disserted. We learned from a neighbour that Carolyn and her family were out working their fields. We made an “appointment” for 8:30 the next morning.

When we arrived at Carolyn’s home the next day, she was there. She hadn’t changed much and after many Apwoyo’s (thank you in Acholi), we showed her the photo and quickly got caught up.

Carolyn’s farm has grown to 7 acres from 1 acre since I was last there thanks to the oxen and training she had received. Her farm is prosperous and the funds she realizes from selling her surplus crops help pay to keep her 8 children in school. I also learned that Carolyn had a good sense of humour. Carolyn only spoke Acholi for the first little while and then suddenly started talking to me in English. It seems she wanted me to learn a bit more Acholi.

Carolyn at her cassava field

Carolyn at her cassava field

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I met Carolyn’s husband Benson and her children and after a wonderful visit it was time to leave. The search for Carolyn was a success. We agreed to meet again and next time, I’ll know exactly where to find her.

Carolyn, her family and us

Carolyn, her family and us

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