"It matters that I am a woman. The women I train, they believe me because I am like them: a wife and a mother. And when I share how TIST has transformed my life, they listen."
Greetings from TIST Uganda! My name is Sarah Nankunda and I am a wife, mother, accountant, mentor, Cluster Servant and TIST Farmer. I have served on the TIST Leadership Council as the Uganda Accountant since 2011. I also help with expanding TIST’s programs, from training new Small Groups and Cluster Servants, to conducting quantifications, to validations. More recently I have begun managing TIST Tanzania. My husband and I are members of Buhweju Small Group and together we have 7,459 trees.
I was young when I first joined TIST. I was a little naïve and so shy! I could not speak in front of people because I was so shy. But TIST gave me a platform to use my voice. When we have Small Group or Cluster meetings, we practice Rotational Leadership which regularly gives me the chance to talk and lead the meetings. It was scary at first, but I became more and more confident the longer I did it. Now I am a leader.
To date, I have introduced TIST to potential farmers in more than 50 “Come and See” meetings, and one of the most important things I emphasize is this: TIST is growing leaders and growing women in leadership. Here in Uganda, many people think women shouldn’t leave their homestead. They believe women should stay inside and just take care of their children. But I make sure to invite as many women as possible to come to TIST meetings and trainings, because it’s a learning opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise have. One of the things I love about TIST is that it encourages women to join, and it makes it possible for them to do so.
First, they get to learn about climate change, agroforestry, and conservation farming. We encourage women to start planting trees and we also train them to plant vegetable gardens and focus on fruit trees like mangos and avocados. We show them how these provide nutrition for their families and how they can take the surplus to the markets to make extra income on top of the TIST tree incentives. They can help their families through these immediate benefits. But TIST provides more than just tangible opportunities; it can also be the first place women ever have the chance to have their voices heard.
Women in my country are not encouraged to raise their hands or stand up and speak–except for in TIST. When they see me, the leader and the one training and inviting them, it sparks morale and the curiosity to say, “maybe I could do that.” Through meetings they gain skills to teach their children, are able to get out of their homes and get fresh air, and make new friends. They are able to confide in and work through problems with other women who understand what they go through. There are even some women who have taken a step beyond and gotten involved in local politics, all because TIST gave them a platform to learn and grow and become confident. They become leaders, themselves. It is really wonderful.
It matters that I am a woman. The women I train, they believe me because I am like them: a wife and a mother. And when I share how TIST has transformed my life, they listen.
I am excited to share that my team and I have been invited to introduce TIST in four new locations around the country this year. We expect new TIST Farmers to be added to our numbers, and we are looking forward to it! Awareness is growing and we are raising up more and more new Cluster Servants to become strong leaders–many of whom are women. I am confident when I say that the future of TIST is very bright!
- Sarah Nankunda, TIST Uganda Leader & Farmer