Budding beekeepers: Okun Owa school’s legacy

Budding beekeepers: Okun Owa school’s legacy

September 10, 2023

In the last blog about Okun Owa school we learned about the many benefits that beekeeping has brought to the school including increased crop yields and a new water tank bought with the income generated from the hives. However, the story doesn’t end there. Like the hum of a bee colony, the impact of this project continues to resonate and spread, creating ripples of positive change that go far beyond the original vision. 

Paul Lawrence: A Budding Beekeeper

Paul Lawrence, a student who initially embarked on his beekeeping journey at Okun Owa primary school, serves as a perfect example of how Bees Abroad beekeeping projects often set something in motion. Paul’s interest in beekeeping was more than just enjoying a fun activity in school; he was bitten by the beekeeping bug and decided to take it to the next level. 

Starting with three hives, Paul ventured into creating his own apiary. Paul soon found he wanted to expand his new apiary further but struggled to find a carpenter to build the much-needed new hives. Determined not to let this get in the way Paul took matters into his own hands – quite literally. He decided to build his own hives, and now, he proudly tends to five hives, cultivating a thriving apiary of his own. 

Beekeeping's Influence Beyond School

Paul isn’t the only student who has embraced beekeeping as a path to success. The school beekeeping club is still going, with beekeeping added to the school curriculum and many students taking the skill with them after graduation. The school reports that several pupils from the senior school, who have since left, continue beekeeping independently. These young beekeepers are not only gaining valuable skills but also generating income for themselves and their families. It’s a testament to the lasting impact of beekeeping education at Okun Owa School. 

But the influence of Bees Abroad’s project doesn’t stop at the school gates. The ripples have spilled into the wider community surrounding the school; Okun Owa has had enquiries from other agricultural schools regionally about setting up their own bee club. Even individuals in other professions, such as the local motorcycle taxi drivers known as “Okadas,” have expressed a keen interest in beekeeping. They’ve witnessed the success and enthusiasm of beekeeping activities at the school and have been inspired to explore the opportunity for themselves. 

A four-year project, a lasting legacy

What this project has accomplished extends beyond honey and hives. The story of Paul Lawrence and the many other students who have embraced beekeeping is a testament to the enduring legacy of Bees Abroad’s work in Okun Owa. It reminds us that the impact of small initiatives can grow into something truly extraordinary, inspiring individuals to follow their passions, overcome obstacles, and contribute to the greater good of their community. 

As the hum of bees continues to resonate through Okun Owa School and its surroundings, it serves as a reminder that the best stories are the ones that don’t have an ending. 

Will You Bee Part of The Story?

Bees Abroad can only work with communities like Okun Owa school with the help of our supporters. Will you “Bee Part of The Story”?

This blog is part of Remember a Charity campaign week. Through the Remember a Charity campaign week, we will celebrate the impact made by our small but mighty initiatives and those who have supported us.

We’re spreading the small but mighty message. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy through your Will. Help us spread the buzz about legacy giving and show the word that we can all be ‘Willantropists’ – creating a legacy that truly matters, no matter the size. 

Beekeeping for a Brighter Future: Okun Owa School’s Story

Beekeeping for a Brighter Future: Okun Owa School’s Story

September 7, 2023

A Glimpse into Okun Owa School

In the heart of Southwest Nigeria lies Ogun State, known as the “Gateway to Nigeria.” Named after the majestic Ogun River that runs across it, this region is home to Okun Owa School. Okun Owa School has a story to share about their journey into the world of beekeeping, a journey that’s enabling the school to achieve its aims and creating ripple effects beyond the boundaries of the school.  

Nestled in a rural area of Ogun State, Okun Owa is an agricultural school with many of the students coming from local farming families on low incomes. Many in the community suffer from poor nutrition, high mortality rates and inadequate access to healthcare that cast a shadow over this community. In September 2017 Okun Owa School and Bees Abroad started working together to teach both pupils and teachers the art of beekeeping, honey production, and marketing hive products.  

A blossoming enterprise

A total of 64 students and 2 teachers were trained in the art of beekeeping. It wasn’t just about bees; it was about building a brighter future. Like bees in a hive, this project buzzed with activity and brought multiple benefits to the school. 

Since the introduction of beekeeping, Okun Owa School has seen remarkable changes in their agricultural yields. Crops like mangoes and pineapples have flourished, leading to increased income as the school sells these fruits. But that’s not all. The hives, honey, and value-added beeswax products have created a new revenue stream for the school. Thanks to this newfound income, the school was able to purchase a water storage tank – a vital resource that makes a big difference to the daily lives of students and staff. 

Mrs. Osibanjo's Beekeeping Journey

One of the most inspiring stories to emerge from this project is that of Mrs. Osibanjo, the vice principal of the junior school. When she assumed her position, Bees Abroad was already working with the school and her predecessor, Mr. Ajayi. Mrs. Osibanjo was determined to learn all she could about beekeeping, asking Mr. Ajayi countless questions. 

Her interest increased after watching how beeswax cream was made and learning about propolis. She even took a honeycomb home to show her family and friends, sparking their interest in the world of bees. Previously sceptical about buying honey from hawkers due to concerns about fake products, Mrs. Osibanjo now confidently purchases honey harvested by the school. 

Small but mighty

The story of Okun Owa School serves as a powerful reminder that even small initiatives can lead to significant transformations. Individuals within the school community have embraced beekeeping at home, creating a ripple effect of positive change. In our next blog post about Okun Owa School, we’ll introduce you to Paul Lawrence, a student who began his beekeeping journey at the primary school and is now thriving in the secondary school. 

Will You Bee Part of The Story?

Bees Abroad can only work with communities like Okun Owa school with the help of our supporters. Will you “Bee Part of The Story”?

This blog is part of Remember a Charity campaign week. Through the Remember a Charity campaign week, we will celebrate the impact made by our small but mighty initiatives and those who have supported us.

We’re spreading the small but mighty message. You don’t have to be a millionaire to leave a legacy through your Will. Help us spread the buzz about legacy giving and show the world that we can all be ‘Willantropists’ – creating a legacy that truly matters, no matter the size. 

Buzzing on Coffee: How Beekeeping Increases Crop Yield

Buzzing on Coffee: How Beekeeping Increases Crop Yield

August 30, 2023

The fertile mountains of Rwenzori, Uganda

Beekeeping brought more than honey to this rural community. Read on to find out how Rwenzori Rural Talent got more than they bargained for…

The Rwenzori Rural Talent community is nestled within the fertile landscapes of the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda. As smallholder farmers, the members of this community dedicate their time and efforts to tending their land, making the most of the region’s productive soils. Among the crops that flourish under their care, coffee stands out as a significant agricultural product. The rich soil and favourable climate provide an ideal environment for coffee cultivation.

Recognising the need for diversification and seeking to enhance their economic prospects, the community turned to Bees Abroad for support in introducing beekeeping. 

Why beekeeping is uniquely beneficial to farming communities ​

Bees Abroad has been supporting the Rwenzori Rural Talent project sine 2020 and during the four years of our support, beekeeping has become as a valuable addition to the income-generating activities of the community. Unlike other farming endeavours that demand extensive land and time commitments, beekeeping offers a more manageable and less labour-intensive alternative.

The community approach Bees Abroad for support in achieving their goals which include promoting economic empowerment for rural women and children, empowering local women and youth with beekeeping skills, improving health standards, and establishing innovative models of microeconomic enterprises in rural areas.

Buzzing on coffee

The Rwenzori Rural Talent community has reported some significant benefits from beekeeping. Firstly, the income generated from beekeeping has provided them with the means to invest in education, allowing families to send their children to school without being crippled by the cost. You can read about how beekeeping can help pay for school fees for children in Uganda here.  

Secondly, the community has witnessed a remarkable increase in coffee production, boasting an impressive 20% boost in yield since embarking on their beekeeping journey. While this might sound too good to be true, similar reports validate the magnitude of enhanced coffee yields. In fact, a researcher from the National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has gone so far as to encourage farmers to engage in beekeeping to increase their coffee production. 

Beekeeping as a part of community diversification and resilience

Beyond the direct advantages of increased income and coffee yields, the introduction of beekeeping has fostered further diversification within the Rwenzori Rural Talent community. Members have utilised the additional income to venture into other endeavours, such as purchasing chickens, pigs and goats. Members like Eva, who’s bees and goats we reported on in lockdown. By expanding their income and food sources, they have effectively spread risk and increased their overall resilience in the face of potential challenges. 

The success of the beekeeping project in Rwenzori Rural Talent serves as an inspiring example of how a small initiative can have transformative effects on rural communities. 

Sweet Knowledge – How Honey Pays for Education

Sweet Knowledge – How Honey Pays for Education

June 28, 2023

About the Rwenzori Rural Talent community

In the lush landscapes of Uganda’s Rwenzori region lies a community called Rwenzori Rural Talent. Established as a Bees Abroad project in 2020, this community reached out for help to support its mission to empower rural women and children through economic empowerment, skill development, and improved health standards. 

Among its many endeavours, one stands out as a sweet solution to a pressing issue: using the income from honey production to cover the costs of education. In a country where access to quality education can be a financial burden for many families, Rwenzori Rural Talent has found that the income from hives covers can cover the cost of school, and quantified it. 

Financial Costs of Education in the Rwenzori Community

Education plays a crucial role in shaping the future of individuals and communities. In Uganda, education is extremely highly valued in the culture. However, financial constraints remain a significant hurdle for many families, especially in rural areas. The costs associated with school fees, uniforms, books, and other supplies can place a heavy burden on households already struggling to make ends meet. 

Financial Costs of Education in the Rwenzori Community 

In the Rwenzori community, the financial costs of education can vary depending on the level of schooling. For primary education, fees range between UGX 200,000 and 300,000 per term. Secondary education, on the other hand, can cost between UGX 500,000 and 700,000 per term, with three terms in a year. For families with limited resources, these expenses can seem insurmountable, leaving many children unable to continue their education. 

Honey as a tool to enable community aims

Rwenzori Rural Talent turned to beekeeping to generate reliable income to support their community aims. With a vision to uplift rural women and children, this community project focuses on empowering its members with beekeeping skills to promote economic empowerment, improve health standards, and establish a sustainable microeconomic enterprise. 

With the support of Bees Abroad and our local partner LIDEOF, honey production has proven to be a viable and profitable enterprise, thanks to the region’s favourable climate and abundant flora. With each colony producing approximately 10 kilograms of honey per year, the community project calculated that by maintaining five colonies, they could yield between UGX 500,000 and 750,000 annually. The income from five hives covers the cost of primary school fees for one child for one year.  

By empowering Rwenzori Rural Talent, this community project has created a sustainable source of income that addresses the financial challenges associated with education in rural areas.

Follow along and join in with your own beeswax stories in the comments on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Umutara Deaf School Project

Umutara Deaf School Project

April 6, 2023
A group of individuals standing together holding their traditional Rwandan beehives

Introduction to the Project

Since its inception in 2018, the Umutara Deaf School beekeeping project has been dedicated to training deaf children to become skilled beekeepers. The project aims to equip these children with the necessary knowledge and skills to establish a sustainable source of income. This not only provides them with financial independence but also fosters confidence and respect within their home villages. In Rwanda, where people with disabilities often face challenges in achieving societal recognition, this project holds particular significance for us.

Support and Training

The Umutara Deaf School beekeeping project has received continuous funding and support from Bees Abroad. The school’s apiary serves as a training ground for students in their final two years of schooling. Additionally, the most promising students, typically around four each year, are enrolled in Bees Abroad’s continued support program, which extends for 1-4 years depending on their dedication and progress in beekeeping.

A total of ten graduates from the Umutara Deaf School have been provided with three beehives each and protective clothing to establish their own beekeeping operations in their respective home villages. Bees Abroad remains committed to their progress by offering ongoing training through the school’s trainer. Regular visits are conducted to assess their development and provide any necessary support. Successful individuals receive additional hives and harvesting equipment after one year of home beekeeping.

An additional three graduates are expected to receive sponsorship upon their graduation this summer. By extending opportunities to these young adults, the project aims to foster their long-term success and growth in beekeeping.

Promising Future

Among the beneficiaries of the Umutara Deaf School beekeeping project, the majority have demonstrated a passion for beekeeping and achieved remarkable progress. Their commitment and enthusiasm have yielded fruitful outcomes, contributing to their personal and professional development.

The Umutara Deaf School beekeeping project, supported by Bees Abroad, has made significant strides in empowering deaf children in Rwanda. Through beekeeping training and ongoing assistance, these children have gained the means to generate income, build confidence, and establish respected positions within their communities. The project’s success stories highlight the transformative impact of such initiatives and inspire hope for a more inclusive and equitable society.

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