For your mental health, take to agri-tourism, return rejuvenated

For your mental health, take to agri-tourism, return rejuvenated
For your mental health, take to agri-tourism, return rejuvenated

Africa-Press – Ethiopia. In the just concluded 2024 Uganda Population Census exercise, a series of questions centred around mental health such as; “Have you had any suicidal thoughts lately? Do you hear strange voices?” The framers of the census questionnaire showed an awareness of what afflicts its populace so that they can plan better for them; maybe expand services at Butabika Mental Referral hospital or otherwise.

I am here to share the otherwise. The otherwise is not in taking numbing medications but stepping out and go out in the wild. Uganda has 10 national parks and 12 game reserves, a weekend escape to the park will do the trick. It no longer costs an arm and a leg and it has never been so, except, you didn’t know.

I have always asked friends when was the last time they stepped out of Kampala and spent time either at the beach, in the forest or at a nearby farm? The answer has always been maddening; “Ebyo by’Abazungu naawe” meaning; ‘that is for whites.’

We have been living in denial of the fact that we need to step out once in a while and go to spaces where we can listen to the wind, to the tweeting of the birds, to the roar of animals or simply go out to the farm and enjoy the smell of crops or plants. Living in Uganda and being a Ugandan is stress by itself. And therefore, it is pertinent that you take away time and go out of time and unwind.

What options are there other than the park?

There are several escape options. A few weeks ago, I really needed some rejuvenation and to breath in some clean air. Kampala can be maddening and we are already aware that the air we breathe in is already polluted beyond acceptable levels (1.7 times above WHO recommendation).

I was pointed to Nyungu ya Maawe in Kitukutwe, but I have been there. I considered Great Outdoors off Gayaza Ziroobwe but I wanted a newer place with a farming element for me and the children that was closer to Kampala. Masheda Mixed Farm off Mityana Road was ideal among the many options put to me.

I am pleased to share the children loved the experience; from the fish farms to the free-range chickens thar are reared at farm and on to the sugarcane gardens and the goats that roamed the place. It was so exhalating. The children had this expansive place with beautiful palms that lined up onto the green spaces to themselves! They rolled in the grass and had a great time.

We were taken on a farm tour by Ms. Nesta Kansiime, first to the fish ponds, and the children loved the sound of the catfish splashing water as the swallowed their pellet feeds. The sound of the water was not only refreshing but mood lifting. It was also lovely seeing the children shout excitedly as they too tried to feed the fish. They had never seen fish feed neither had I. It was therapeutic.

We fed the chickens in their expansive free-range enclosure that was surrounded by sugarcanes and banana trees. We ate some sugarcanes right there in the garden; fresh and not packed in these white polyethene as seen on the streets of Kampala. It was so natural and re-assuring.

As we took a tour of the fish factory, we connected with nature and business and the trees swaying over our heads cutting through the wind gave away a whizzing sound that spelt tranquility, serenity and harmony.

We had our lunch at the adjacent Masheda Palm Resort.

Knowing that our food was right from the gardens which we had toured was so exhalating. It was fresh, organic and evoked feelings of a countryside that is abundant with food. After a mouthwatering meal, the children had a great time smelling the different flowers and enjoying the breathtaking sceneries.

We spent a night in the grass-thatched family chalet that has four different rooms from single to double beds. And all this was soft on the pockets. I did not have to break a bank to reward my family with a farm tour that was more educative, rejuvenating and with full package of renewal, revitalizing and an opportunity to unwind for the good of the children’s and my mental health.

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