Bernard grew up as the eldest son in a family of 18 children from five mothers. From the age of 12 he had to take on the role of a parent to help his father and mothers raise his siblings. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacked their village during the war and the family lost all they had – food, animals and livelihood. During one of the attacks Bernard’s father was shot and wounded, his life changed forever. The family had to move to an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp where Bernard says, ‘life was harsher in the camp than in the battlefields. I saw people die every minute – eventually death no longer shocked me.’ HIV spread as women slept with different men to get food for their children and young girls were raped. By the time they left the camp Bernard’s father had contracted HIV and was too weak to take care of the family.

Hopeless and stranded

Bernard was sponsored by World Vision to go to school, but when he completed his education he didn’t have any practical skills, beyond farming, to support his large family. Hopeless and stranded, he was thrilled to get the opportunity to join Kira Farm Development Centre.

Self-confidence and positivity

Bernard noticed the positive influence that Kira Farm had on him immediately. ‘I’ve always been a negative person and I think that blocked me from seeing the opportunities around me,’ explains Bernard. ‘At Kira I gained in self-confidence and started to believe in myself and fell positive about my future. For so long I had been spoon-fed by charitable organisations and it made me believe that I needed someone else to solve my problems.’ Kira changed Bernard’s mindset, helping him to see that he can help himself.

Putting skills to good use

‘Before Kira I wasted a lot of time going from one charity workshop to the next for the free food and a small allowance,’ explains Bernard. ‘But it wasn’t much good for me or my family.’ After Kira however, Bernard has focussed his energies on conservation farming and his last harvest was so good that the family now has more than enough food at home.

Bernard has passed on his new farming skills to his siblings and they are expecting a huge harvest this season. He has also secured a number of building jobs from which he is earning £6 a day, and he already has savings of £66. Together with another Kira graduate, Geoffrey, he has combined resources and rented out a house in a trading centre where they have opened up a carpentry workshop. When they are not on the building site, they are working in the workshop and training two youths in carpentry skills.

Spreading faith and hope

Bernard is a youth leader in his church now, sharing discipleship materials from Kira and encouraging others to work hard. ‘With my youth group we have been doing a lot of community work – clearing village roads, and visiting hospitals,’ he says. ‘Now we are in the refugee camp, preaching and bringing hope to the lives of refugees.’ Bernard has come a long way from relying on others to change his life; instead he has transformed his life and is transforming the lives of others.