Field of Hope’s Mission to Educate and Enhance Lives of Youth and Farmers in Developing Communities

The saying, “Empower a woman. Equip a child. Give the gift of education and the tools for life,” sits atop the homepage on Field of Hope’s website. Something that the organization truly believes, embodies, and implements on a daily basis.

Field of Hope is a Christian organization that was founded by Mike and Cathy Hafner, as well as Brandy Young in 2011.

After Young visited Uganda on a mission trip, she saw the potential for agriculture and the lack of food security that plagued the country. Uganda was still recovering from civil war; in Northern Uganda, most people farmed or relied on farming for their food and economy.

As a result of the civil war, the generation that primarily farmed and supplemented the economy had passed. Those that were left did not have the knowledge or technology to farm and sustain the agricultural presence of the country.

The Hafner family and Young decided to start this non-profit after Young’s visit to Uganda. Over the past decade, Field of Hope has blossomed into an organization that has a plethora of volunteers around the country and from universities in Texas.

Alexa Major Wilcox, executive director of Field of Hope, was the first official university student to receive a fellowship. While she tried to find a topic for her masters’ thesis, she knew that she had a passion for women’s empowerment. Wilcox began to learn about the pivotal role women play in agriculture in Africa, which eventually led her to Field of Hope. Through mutual connections, she came in contact with Mike Hafner.

“I researched more about women in agriculture in Africa and what that looks like. And I was shocked to find out that over 80% of agricultural labor done in Africa is done by women,” Wilcox said. “So, I got in touch with this board member and he was like, ‘you need to call Mike and talk to Mike who's one of the co-founders.’ So, I cold-called Mike one day and I just said hey Mike, my name is Alexa Major this is what I want to do and I think we were on the phone for probably 30 minutes and by the end, he was like ‘yeah, I think you just need to go to Uganda with us.’ “

After accepting Hafner’s offer to visit Uganda, Wilcox lived there for two months and worked with women in those communities through Field of Hope to gain insight and conduct her thesis research.

“I just kind of did some stuff for them while I was there; I would say like an informal internship is basically what that fellowship was, in addition to my thesis research and was able to formalize some of the programs and processes for them,” Wilcox said. “I just had a blast. I probably had been there for about five weeks and I was talking to my husband … and just said, you know, I just think that God wants me to do this as a career like I really think that I can do something here, I can help make a difference; and really just help these people both in the US and Uganda, make what they're doing have a bigger impact.”

Since then, Wilcox became head of the leadership team at Field of Hope as the executive director. In her position, Wilcox oversees and implements the services that Field of Hope offers to Ugandans. These services range from smallholder farms to officials in the government to promote agriculture in the youth and the government.

“We developed a curriculum, if you will for secondary agriculture classes and have built [in] teacher training off of the curriculum. So, we work with over 230 teachers across Uganda, we give to them this curriculum that has updated content, more relevant content, and innovative ways of teaching,” Wilcox said. “We take them from rote memorization into a classroom where it&