My Enlarged, Uganda-shaped Heart

Can a heart grow so large that it bursts or does it just continue to expand infinitely? I hope it’s the latter because I don’t know how much larger mine can stretch. It seems it could contain the whole of Uganda, the landscape and people, that stretched it. Denis, Elly, the extraordinary Roots-Africa team with whom I traveled, the people I met like Dr. Margaret, her husband John and son Ian, Linda, the staff at Malaki Eco Lodge, the kids at the universities, children everywhere, and so many others stretched it.

I came to Uganda the mother of one child and left a mother to many. I wasn’t expecting to have children at my age. I wasn’t expecting to have sons and daughters who look nothing like me, who are Ugandans, but I do. They chose me and I chose them. They call me Mama though I can’t take credit for the fine men and women they already are. No matter. These will all do big things in the future, things I hope to have a little hand in.

This morning I’m especially grateful for Tibenkana Denis (Denis). He’s such a one. On the surface he’s as different from me as could be, but deep down where it matters, my son he most certainly is. Denis is graduating from Bukulasa Agricultural College soon. He’s well-spoken, smart as a whip, and an in-country coordinator for Roots-Africa who has already trained many, many farmers through a Uganda-modified university agricultural extension model. He’s transforming his village (and others), educating them, connecting them to new markets, and teaching them practical skills like public speaking. Denis plans to see his community (and his countrymen) become financially sustainable through agricultural innovation and hard work.

But as laudable as these things are, they aren’t what made him a son. His heart did that: it’s huge. Meeting his heart enlarged my own.

When we visited Denis’ village earlier this month, I told you about little Sophie, a young girl with whom I bonded (see photo of Denis and Sophie at left). Denis watched me interact with the children there and later told me that it touched him deeply. We are like-minded, like-hearted. He wants his village’s children to have a better life than he had. To escape the grips of hunger and poverty. As do I.

So, before I left Uganda we arranged to partner to help Sophie, her family, and his village’s vulnerable children. We know that a well-fed and clothed, secure, bonded child becomes a secure, bonded, and resilient adult. We want that for them, my son Denis and I. If you are moved to help, please direct message me and join us in our efforts.

But here’s the cherry on the top. Denis is a writer and activist for agriculture too. I had no idea. He’s been reading my blogs and this morning began publishing his own. I hope you will subscribe and follow his trajectory as he changes Uganda one farmer, one heart, one village at a time.

Again, I couldn’t be more proud of Denis and all my children in Uganda. I believe you’ll be impressed and if you let it, like my now Uganda-shaped heart, your heart will also be enlarged.

Friends, I give you my son, Denis, and his blog.

Enhancing Extension Services in Uganda: Addressing Uneven Distribution for Rural Farmers’ Empowerment

How extension services can be improved in Uganda, Tibenkana Denis

5/21/2023 2 min read


  1. Am just privileged to have a mentor like denis who has taught me alot ,his big heart towards helping young girls and ladies proposer. Am so happy having met termurrison,dave,Jim and many others who have also taught me new stuff.


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