Hope Greeners Farm in Ngora is a training centre for farmers run by Helen Kongai, the Send A Cow Zonal Coordinator for eastern Uganda. It is here that I meet the remarkable Anna Grace, a woman like no other I've ever met before.
It’s 8am, I’ve just had breakfast, and I’m trying to shake off the ants that collected in my shoes and are now running up
my trouser legs, when out of the corner of my eye I see a woman bounding towards
me and waving her arms wildly, her face obscured by a huge grin. That woman is Anna Grace. She’s
64, and despite the fact that she left school at the age of 10 to get married,
she greets me in English. She says she might not get the chance to see me again
and she can’t let me go without giving me a message for everyone back at innocent.
Anna Grace is one of Send A Cow’s Peer Farmers and a member of one of the groups funded by the innocent foundation. Just listening to her speak makes you feel as though you could do anything in the world if you wanted to. The way she talks reminds you how exciting it is to be alive, and if I'd had internet access I wouldn't have been at all surprised to find myself signing up for the London Marathon, registering an Astrophysics degree at the Open University and booking myself in for a tattoo once she'd finished talking.
Here's what she had to say:
“When you go back to innocent I want you to tell all your friends that I, Anna Grace, love them. I LOVE them. I used to be so poor I didn’t even have clothes. When I went to the well everyone would leave me to pump the water by myself because I was so smelly. I only had one item of clothing and it was in tatters. I was disgusting and everyone hated me.
Noone would help me. Not even my husband, or his family. They left me to rot. But Send A Cow taught me the rules by which to live a healthy life. They taught me how to look after myself and be hygienic. To take pride in my body and keep it clean. They taught me to plant trees and crops to feed the cow and feed myself. They taught me to eat vegetables so I could be fit and strong.
Look at me. I’m 64 and I am strong. I can do whatever I want. I can run, I can dance...anything. Thank you, thank you all.”
And with that, she skips off back to her farm, laughing away to herself and leaving me to get back to the business of removing ants from my trousers. What a woman.