Bethany Land Institute provides Uganda's rural poor with an integrated education program in sustainable land use, economic entrepreneurship, and spiritual formation.
“There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational programme, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.” - Laudato Si', #111
The Heart of Our Work: The Caretaker Program
BLI's Caretaker Program is an intensive two-year residential program where students, called Caretakers, train in farming, agroforestry, agribusiness, and personal formation. The three branches of BLI – Mary's Farm, Martha's Market, and Lazarus' Trees – are the Caretakers' training arenas. Caretakers learn by doing with the bulk of training happening in the field. This hands on approach leads to questions, problem solving, and discoveries that couldn’t happen in the classroom alone.
What happens after the Caretakers graduate is what makes BLI’s programming transformative. As a prerequisite to joining the program, each Caretaker commits to training 4 apprentices in the next 2 years on their own farms, and freely sharing their knowledge with everyone. In this way, the Caretakers become an ever expanding network of thoughtful, creative farmers.
Mary's Farm is a sustainable teaching farm which forms Caretakers in the practices, lifestyle, and spirituality of sustainable land care and food production. In the first year, the Caretakers work in the demonstration farm; in the second year they design, create, and tend their own individual farming plots. Once trained, Caretakers engage with the local community, sharing their knowledge with on-campus trainings. They will take these teachings back with them to their own farms.
Martha's Market serves as the business hub of BLI and enables the Caretakers to develop and practice entrepreneurship skills. It currently consists of a savings and credit cooperative organization (SACCO) for Caretakers to invest and borrow money to help their farms. As it continues to develop, it will also consist of roadside stands, restaurants, and festivals that allow BLI Caretakers to sell their harvests. Once the guesthouse is built, the Caretakers will learn hospitality skills as well.
Lazarus's Trees is a forest that serves as a catalyst for major community outreach in reforestation and community-based ecological education. Our tree nursery provides free saplings to the local community. Caretakers are regularly planting more trees in the forest (with the goal of reaching one million trees planted by 2030) and will continue to conduct outreach regarding Lazarus' Trees, in order to turn it into a major, regional ecotourism hub.
Meet Our Caretakers
In the early months of 2021, BLI welcomed its first cohort of 16 caretakers, the majority of them from central Uganda. 14 seminarians from the Kasana-Luwero Diocese also joined these caretakers for a few months. Today, the 16 caretakers remain on campus, residing in the dormitories and participating in the formation program. Click below to meet them!
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