We love hearing from people around the world who care about animals, and this week’s guest definitely fills the bill. Tune in to hear about all of the work Musisi Mike, founder of Luv4All Uganda, is doing to grow compassion for both animals and humans, including running Uganda’s first all-vegan school.
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Musisi Mike is the Founder of Luv4All Uganda, a group dedicated to caring for all lives, human and non-human, through vegan advocacy and other local programs, including The Atlas Vegan School. He received his diploma in agribusiness management and now uses his education to spread veganic farming to fight hunger in his region.
- Luv4All: Uganda Website
- Musisi Mike on Facebook
- Luv4All: Uganda Instagram
- Luv4All: Uganda on X
- Luv4All: Uganda on Vimeo
Jasmin Singer: Welcome to Our Hen House, Musisi Mike. Can you tell us what Love for All Uganda is?
Musisi Mike: Love for All Uganda, it is an organization, which is a community based, located in the Kasanda district in Uganda. The organization was established to empower human and non-human beings, based on ethics. As an organization, we are empowering the communities in different categories.
We have women empowerment, children empowerment, environment or climate. We have animal advocacy and education as part of the organization. So, Love For All is a community based organization established by a Ugandan, and we have four directors on board that are also Ugandans.
We are doing our work in two sub counties in the district of Kasana in Uganda. And we have the smallest budget because we are a small organization, mainly empowered by volunteers. So that is a little about Love For All Uganda.
Jasmin Singer: And how did it begin?
Musisi Mike: We started in 2018 we're called Freeborn Children Mission Ministries. Later on, after discovering the suffering of animals and the other living things, we discover that we have to take an approach to empower them too. So we changed our organization from Freeborn Children Mission Ministries to Love For All Uganda so that we can engage all human and living things together so that we can give them advocacy for their lives and whatever they're doing.
So that's why we came together. In 2021, we just started As Love for All Uganda, and we embarked on the work of activism to save animals, to preach love for animals, to preach love for environment, to preach people to go vegan.
Jasmin Singer: That's amazing. Such important work. Tell us about the Atlas Vegan Community School.
Musisi Mike: Yeah, as an organization, I and my team, we decided that if we want to accomplish our mission or our goal, we have to put more effort on education. So we come up with a plan of starting a primary school in Uganda, which is vegan oriented, fully vegan. And my friends, they accepted my idea.
So we started a school in 2022, last year, which is vegan oriented. We teach children how to love animals, we teach them compassion, we teach them love, how to conserve the environment. So the Atlas Vegan Community School, it is empowering the young generation to boost veganism and its components. So it gives the young children hope and gives the country that if this generation grows knowing the veganism ideology, they can also spread it in the future, and they can build another large population of vegans and can save animals from being treated poorly in the community. So, that's how the idea of Atlas Vegan Community came up and it was started from nursery level to primary 4 right now, but we have hope that we shall go on adding at last to primary 7.
So, our main goal is to teach young generation to become vegan, to teach vegan everywhere, and to practice plant based food.
Jasmin Singer: And what about veganism? What kind of food do you provide and what do children learn about food?
Musisi Mike: We provide plant based food to children and nearby communities, because our cause is to reduce on animal product consumption. So, at the school, we buy food which is fully plant based. We give our children the best food dish. It is plant based and it gives them energy, it is well equipped with all nutrients which the kids need.
So we try to promote plant based food and more production, so that's what we do. And our dish is plant based.
Jasmin Singer: And I understand that you're in the process of rebuilding. So what are your goals in this rebuild?
Musisi Mike: Yeah, we are in the process of building the school. Our main goal is to see that at least in 2040 the population or the number of vegans that will be here in Uganda and the suffering of animal will be reduced. Because if you put education as the first priority in your campaigns, that means that we are going to educate the younger generation.
Also, they will educate their parents, they will educate their community. That means that the population is going to be big after our advocacy for veganism and animal suffering. So in our goal we say that by 2040 we shall be having a population of at least 80% people will be vegan and they'll be knowing how to treat animals, how the animals are equal to them, and how they can spread love for animals, and we shall be promoting peace, unity, and compassion to every community in Uganda.
Jasmin Singer: Does the government provide education to children where you are?
Musisi Mike: The government, gives education, which is free, to some areas, but in our area we have no education school there because the area is still remote, it is very far from the centers of the government. And even the government when they give out the free education, they don't give the education to the children.
They don't care. For them, they just put their school, but they don't put their equipments like teachers, like materials. But right now in our area, we don't have a government school. We are the only school in the area. And our school's best for helping the vulnerable children and the orphans. So that these children, they don't pay any coin, we take care of them, which is a big challenge we have. But we are trying our level best.
Jasmin Singer: And where do the children come from who attend or who will attend the school?
Musisi Mike: The children, they come from different areas. The challenge we have that they move six miles, seven miles to come to school. It is a bit challenging to young children, like, because we have children from three years to twelve years. So, to consider a 3 year child to move 6 miles to 7 miles is a big challenge.
At the school we are trying to put more planning so that we can get maybe a vehicle. Maybe we can construct hostel near the school so that they come to school and they stay at the school. But now they move that long distance to come to school and they come from different areas because we are nearby 70 to 80 villages around us.
And those people come from those areas to come to our school.
Jasmin Singer: Do the parents have to pay a fee?
Musisi Mike: No, not really, because our school was established on supporting the marginalized children, all those people who have no support. And the number of people in our area that are really poor. They are really in the poorest environment. Because years back, people in our area, their parents died out of HIV/AIDS.
So the number of children we have, some have HIV/AIDS, others do not, but their families were affected by HIV/AIDS. So, we decided to give them free education because we know that their parents, they can't manage that. And it is the only way we can bring children to the table and their parents so that we can do what we are supposed to do.
So the parents, don't pay anything. It is the school who takes care of everything.
Jasmin Singer: And how do parents feel about including animals and veganism in the way you teach the children?
Musisi Mike: Yeah, sometimes we get meetings with parents. And we teach them the right things because in our organization we have a project of women empowerment. In the women empowerment project, we help these parents with seed, we give them free seedlings, so that they plant to get enough food for their children and to get food for money.
Because they sell some of their foods to get some money to take care of themselves. And they grow food for consumption. So we help them on that. So while doing it, we do meetings. The meetings we do, we teach them the importance of veganism importance of plant-based food and how the children gonna benefit from this.
And yes, we have a few parents which have not yet understood what we are building in their children, but the largest number they accepted us and they gave us their children, knowing what we are doing. And some of them, they are transforming from animal production to a plant based production.
So we are trying to teach them slowly but surely, you know, they take a long time to understand. This process, this think tank, it is for those who understand quickly, but if you, an area where people take things slowly, we have to also to slow. And then, to give them courage that what we are doing, it's not wrong. It's the way to go in the world. So the number of parents are accepting what we are doing and that they give their children knowing what we are doing because we first teach them before we receive their children. And if someone accept, then we're good with the children.
Jasmin Singer: So tell us about the award you received from PETA.
Musisi Mike: Yeah. PETA, they gave us a compassionate award because they saw what we are doing as an organization and as a school. So they gave us that award and they gave us $1,000 to feed their children, also to do other things at the school. And they also send us materials every month, which we use to give to children to learn how to love animals, small books, flyers.
So we use their materials, which they send every month, and they are very important to our children and the entire community. So we appreciate their effort to support veganism, to support compassion and love towards the younger generation. They put their effort to help us, and we appreciate for that.
Jasmin Singer: So in addition to the school, you're also working on a number of other projects in the community. Tell us about your vegan food distribution.
Musisi Mike: Of course, we do vegan food distribution in areas where people are suffering hunger. Like last year we visited Kalamoja, it is part of Uganda, in northern Uganda, where people were still eating grass because what we did was not enough for them. So we visit those areas where people are really starving for food.
So we do it in different areas, we give them free food, and it's plant based food. So that we are trying to convert people from animal production to plant based production. So that's why we do it, and we do it to save the aged people, the children from hunger because in Africa hunger, it is grow ing wildly because every area people are suffering. We try to cover that gap by giving them free food by giving them seed, those who can go to garden we give them free seeds so that they can grow their own food. But those who have no land, we give them food for consumption and, uh, trying to convert them to come to our site.
Jasmin Singer: And tell us a little bit more about the hunger that's there.
Musisi Mike: In Uganda, we have the highest number of population, mainly youth. And we have unemployment percentage of people in Uganda, which is high. So, we found that the number of households are very many and people have no food to eat. People, they used to grow their food years back, but we got some diseases in the foodstuffs.
And you can grow food and you end up getting nothing. Our season has changed because of climate crisis. People are cutting off trees everywhere. So we find challenge that if you want to grow food, when you don't have an education system, you can't grow food. You can't grow enough food in your area.
So, that brought everything on track to see that the hunger is rising every day, every time. So people are dying every day because of hunger. Children and elderly people. 60% of people die of hunger in Uganda. Meaning those areas like Northern Uganda, where people have no food totally. The government to take care of them, but also our government don't do that.
Because the governments, they do where they see that they can get something. But if the area that they don't have anything, they can't get it from there, they don't put the effort to help those people in those areas. So, we try to cover that gap as an organization, and we are working with them to cover that gap of hunger, but which is not very easy. We have to be having enough funding to buy food, whereby the food is very expensive right now in Uganda because of inflation. And, right now the World Bank refuse to pay Uganda money. So we see that things are going to change slowly by slowly.
So We are going to be the poorest country for time to come. People, they will not be having money to buy food. In Uganda, someone cannot raise $1 a day. So that means you cannot raise money to buy food. You just take food once in a while. If someone can get lunch, can't get supper. If someone can get breakfast, can't get lunch and supper. So that's the situation in Uganda.
Jasmin Singer: When people are living such hard lives, how do you reach them with a message of compassion for animals?
Musisi Mike: Yeah, we sit down as a team and we see what is visible. And we see how we can go grassroots to the communities because when you go to grassroots to the committees, you sit with them and you find the solutions. Or you first find the problems they have, and then you come up with the solutions.
Like I said, that they are suffering of hunger. So if you want them to come on board with you and you teach them the veganism and so on, you have to come with food. Because food is their main problem. When you come with food on table, then they will listen to you, because you have something on table.
But if you come with nothing, they will not give you their attention, because you have nothing, and they are hungry. Someone who is hungry, you cannot help with anything you can tell him or her. But if you have food, things become different. So that's how we handle them. We have to see that we come with food in those areas to convince them slowly by slowly to turn on our side.
Jasmin Singer: What is the current situation for farmed animals in the area of Uganda where you're working?
Musisi Mike: The animals, people, they do slaughter animals, and they do make animals to suffer in the areas we have reached so far because they have less knowledge on what we are trying to say. Because we have limited organizations in Uganda which are vegan oriented, and those who are vegan oriented organizations, they have limited resources to reach in every area. So we found that some areas, they don't know anything about veganism because we don't reach there. We only focused on the areas we are working on like we have two sub counties in one district.
So you're going to concentrate on those ones only. So, if we get funding, and if we get space, maybe we can move area to area, which is not easy right now, because we are still a small organization which needs a lot of funding to boost our work everywhere. So we do what we can as an organization.
Of course, like, we visit homes. We visit homes, mainly those people who are having domestic animals at home. And we educate them, how they can handle them. And we teach them that these animals, they are not our foods. They are not for money, we have to love them as we love ourselves, we have to take care of them, so there is a small reduction, but also we need more effort to make people understand it very clear.
Because when we are dealing with people who are in the poorest area, we have to do it in an alternative way. They ask you, "yes, you don't like us to eat animals or to kill them. What do you have on table which can give us another option?" So you have to do something on table so that they don't do what you don't want them to do.
That's the main challenge we have because if you say someone that you don't have to kill this animal for food or for anything, you have to come up with a plant based alternative. You have to be with seeds. You have to be with money to give them to support them in irrigation schemes.
Because some of the people, they have land, but they don't have irrigation schemes. They don't have irrigation pumps and so on. So you have to put those things in place. So that you convince these people to leave what you are saying that is wrong to do what you are saying is right.
Jasmin Singer: And what do most people eat? Are people's diets mostly plant based or animal based?
Musisi Mike: Before we engage them with what we are doing, they were animal product consumer. But right now, at least in ten households, you can find two still consuming meat as they're transforming from meat production to plant based production because we're trying to give them what we can as an organization. And, we put more emphasis on grassroot outreaches.
We go there, we meet them, we teach them, we meet local leaders, and we try to encourage them to try their level best. Because if they go into plant based feeding and all plant based production it saves a lot. So, we're trying to teach them and people are understanding what we are trying to tell them.
Jasmin Singer: I know in many places, moving from a traditional plant based diet to having more meat in the diet is seen as a sign of prosperity and success. Is that true where you are? And how do you counter that?
Musisi Mike: Yeah, you know, it is. Like I said that in African tradition, animal product consumption, It was part of, like, when someone have won something, people celebrate their winning by slaughter a goat or slaughter a cow. But right now, we are trying to convince them that you can do your success by not slaughtering animals. You can do whatever you want, but because it's part of promoting unity and peace. If you can promote peace, you and your animal, it's only way you can be a good person. Or maybe you you can promote humanity in your community or in your home.
So we are seeing that people they are trying to change from that rigged situation to a new era. Whereby now people, they journey with the animals, they love them. We are trying to, compile an amendment soon. So that the families, they have to consider animals as their family friends in whatever they do. So that it will help people to take care of animals as their children, as anything they treasure in their families. So we have progress in what we are doing as an organization. And we see that people are changing in the communities we are focused in.
Jasmin Singer: And how do people generally react to this vegan messaging, and when you say it's better to not raise and eat animals, are they open to it?
Musisi Mike: Some are open to it, others take long to get open to it. But as I said, it is a new thing. And, you cannot force someone to change in one day or two days. That's why our focus is on younger generation. Because if you change a younger generation, it will be very easy for other people to change.
Because a child can teach a parent what is new, what is going on, and a parent can change. So our focus mainly is on the younger generation, and we focus on teaching them what is right. And also they go back home and they teach their parents what is right. So if we bring more children on the table, it will change the generation.
And we are trying to do outreaches in the communities. Showing them things, where the animals are slaughtered. When, people are killing animals, when get diseases from animals so people, they understand that some diseases are coming from animals like covid, you go last year, two years back.
So we try to teach them that if you feed on animals, if you treat them badly, if you do this, these are results. So they get to understand slowly because 80% of the people we are dealing with, they never went to school. So you have to be patient with them.
Jasmin Singer: Yeah, that's good advice for everyone listening. It can be easy to lose patience, I think, but you're right, people come around when they come around. Tell us about your water project.
Musisi Mike: Yeah, we have it as a project, as organization, but because of less funding, we just go to the water wells and we clean them and we do that community work, but we have in plan that if we get funding, we can build water bores to the communities so that they get fresh water. In areas people, they use the same water with animals because they don't have that clean water. It is our approach that if we get opportunity to get funding, we can put it as a tribute to the communities.
You can build those wells. You can build the bore holes to the community members and the schools. Like our school, we don't have water. We suffer with water at the school right now. If, because the season has we get little rainfall, and we have one tanker, it cannot accommodate 180 children we have. But if we get a borehole, or water well at our area, or at our school premises... But we need to put more effort, so that we can get funding and do our project, a water project, to every area we have, and we put irrigation because it will pass also an irrigation scheming. Because we need people to grow vegan agriculture, so people to grow vegan education, we have to be with those irrigation schemes because nowadays rainfall, it is not as it was in years back because of climate crisis.
Jasmin Singer: And you're also working on seed distribution. Are most of the families you work with involved in farming?
Musisi Mike: Of course, our families, they're farmers, they're peasants. We are trying to teach them veganic farming, where they don't use animals production. So, to do it, we have to give them free seeds. And they need to get water to watering their seeds, to grow well.But they don't have th e irrigation scheme. And sometimes they can grow, like, one acre of land, and then they get to one bag of maize or beans because of poor environment and so on. So, we need to see that if time comes, we dig water wells, so that they can collect water from there and they get pumps to get their crops, to be easier for them to grow more vegan food in the area and they can get what to eat and get what to sell, get money.
But our people are farmers.
Jasmin Singer: What kind of livelihoods other than farming are available to the children that you teach?
Musisi Mike: The life is, miserable, it is miserable because our people, they are very poor. And you can find a family where they cannot buy food. That means they don't pay school fees for their children. They cannot buy a uniform for their children, they cannot buy a shoe for their children.
So, we are living in a community where people are very, very, very poor and very sick. Because the largest number of people, they have HIV /AIDS. They are very sick, they are very weak, they are very poor. So we are trying to do what we can so that we educate these young children to build another generation which will be effective to the change, but the lives of our people, it is miserable, it is very poor.
Jasmin Singer: So how can our listeners find out more about your work? What is your website and your social media?
Musisi Mike: As an organization, we do our work on different platforms we are using to promote our work. As I said, we have a website, we have other platforms. We have a website which is www.loveforallUganda.Org We have our Facebook, Love4AllUganda. Twitter, Love4AllUganda, Instagram, Love4AllUganda12.
And also we use our home based strategies, like we do campaigns, we do outreaches, and, uh, we're trying to, in the future, we shall be having radio show talks and TV show talks time to come. So, we are doing all those to promote our work. In our country and, uh, other countries.
Jasmin Singer: That's great. And we'll include links to all of that as well. Thank you so much for speaking with me today. Just don't go anywhere but thank you so much for joining us on Our Hen House.
Musisi Mike: You're welcome. You're welcome.
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