The People Behind the Mission: Sharon Obote
When Sharon Obote joined Trees for the Future (TREES) in July 2019, she became the first woman to join TREES’ Uganda staff.
Since she joined the team more than two years ago, she has become the Assistant Technician for the Plant it Forward Project in Kole, Uganda and has watched her team grow to an even makeup of men and women.
Sharon sat down with Charity Nalwoga, TREES Uganda Field Development and Communications Liaison to share her experiences in community development and with TREES.
Tell us a little more about yourself.
I am Sharon Obote, born in Lira district but my home district is Kwania district where my parents are from. I am the fourth of ten children. I moved a lot as a child, but I moved back to Lira in 2011 when I finished studying and I have lived here since then. I am a mother to two beautiful children, my son Elijah who is seven years old and my daughter Jireh who is just two months old. I studied for a Diploma in Crop production and management from Busitema University.
Before TREES, what were you doing?
Before I joined TREES, I was volunteering with Hands Across Nations specifically in the adult literacy arm. I was teaching people how to read and write.
What was your inspiration to join TREES?
Since I was a young girl, I have always wanted to work with the community. I have always wanted to help others to learn and grow. My role at TREES has allowed me to fulfill that desire and dream through working with smallholder farmers in Lira and Kole districts.
What has your experience as an Assistant Technician been like and what have you learned?
My experience has been good, I have learned so much in the past two years. I had some knowledge of agroforestry, but I have since added so much more to that. I have learned that one can combine all these farming techniques to achieve a healthy and thriving garden. I have also learned so many sustainability practices in farming.
How have you found TREES as an organization and have you had any challenges in your work?
TREES is a particularly good organization because it cares about the wellbeing of not only the farmers, they work with but the staff members too. They care about personal development, and this makes working with the organization much easier. The Forest Garden Approach is a very practical technique and is achievable for all farmers even those with the least of incomes. It is not financially demanding for farmers and it helps them grow their gardens to something that a whole family can constantly benefit from.
In terms of challenges, I would say I faced most of these when I had just joined because I joined in the middle of [an existing] project which meant that I was a little bit behind in a few concepts. I had to catch up fast to be able to be of help to farmers and execute my role well. After some months, I managed to catch up with the help of my teammates and supervisor.
As the first female staff in TREES Uganda, what was that like for you?
I thought this would be a little hard but to my surprise it was not at all. My male colleagues were supportive and helpful during my orientation and first months at work. They helped me fit in and learn fast, which made work easier. It did not feel like I was the only woman, they welcomed me. I am happier that the team now has so many other female staff. I look forward to the girl time when we have staff gatherings and sharing as women because of the way we understand each other.
What career advice would you give young girls out there?
I urge young girls to study and work hard in whatever they do so they can make something of themselves and be independent.
When you are not at work, what do you like to do in your free time?
When I am not working, I love to spend time with my children just being a mum. I also like listening to music. I like counseling others through preaching the word of God and sharing with others. I like to learn new things and I also love cooking.