Okot Ben is a graduate of Agrostudies who completed the internship in 2015. He completed a degree in Agriculture in Uganda and then interned on Zarfati fruit farm in Israel. Even before completing his internship he started thinking about ways in which he could make a difference.
“When I came back home I sat with my family and told them that I want to change the life of my people with knowledge and experience. I need to start a school.” He asked for their opinion before embarking on this quite complicated journey and got their blessing.
He then began surveying potential lands for the school and finally found an area that suited his needs. Luckily, his mother has a government job and was able to help him during the process of obtaining permission to start a school and then later a license from the district and the Ministry of Education and Sport.
The school teaches at a college level and includes both horticulture and animal production and management. The school already has 7 crop teachers, 6 animal teachers and 56 students with the aim to grow. Ben Okot is the principal and is rightfully very proud of their achievements thus far.
The students who attend the school acquire practical experience alongside theoretical knowledge, just as he did in Israel. Every morning the spend 2 hours in the field, from 6am – 8am. They have field houses where they do some minor irrigation for agriculture, a fruits department, agroforestry, an eucalyptus farm, they maintain livestock units, poultry, bee hives and they even have a goats unit which Okot named the Zarfaty unit after his old farm in Israel. In short, there is enough to keep the students busy and learning many diverse aspects of agriculture. At 9:30 they attend lectures throughout the day and by 17:30 they must return to the growing units to take care of the farm. It is hard work but the students gain crucial experience through a similar method that inspired Ben Okot to open the school.
This is the second year the school, called Kitgum Agriculture and Vocational Institute has been functioning and Ben Okot has kept warm ties with Agrostudies. In fact, four graduates of the school will be joining the Agrostudies program next year. Four students, whom will return and also be able to change the world around them in small and big ways, thanks to the inspiration actions of Okot Ben.