Ntale David as a sponsored child.
Ntale David knows when an animal isn’t well. He can look into the creature’s eyes and see that although it is alive, it isn’t thriving.
Perhaps that look is familiar to David because of his childhood.
"Life was not good at all," says David, now 33. "We used to sleep on the ground with no mattresses."
David’s parents, who couldn’t read or write, were what he calls "peasant farmers" in the Ugandan town of Nakatete. The maize, cassava and beans they grew provided just enough to feed the family — on a good day.
"Sometimes we used to eat once a day, sometimes twice and, when lucky, thrice a day," David says.
He, his parents and his siblings lived in a home with no electricity, and they walked more than a mile to reach the nearest well for drinking water.
In a family so dependent on farming, David began looking after animals even before he entered Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program at age 9. But it was at the Compassion center in Nakatete that he learned even more about herding goats, sheep, pigs and cows. He also learned about gardening, carpentry, personal hygiene, nutrition and the gospel. Most important, he gave his life to Christ.
A financial gift at Christmastime from his Compassion sponsors, a Pennsylvania couple named Carla and Bruce Eberle, was used to buy the family a pig. Subsequent gifts became a Christmas tradition of sorts, helping to grow his family’s herd. Breeding and selling the animals provided a meager income for the desperate family.
As David grew, so did his passion for farming. With the education and resources gainedduring 13 years in the Child Sponsorship Program, a 21-year-old David enrolled at Mbuye Farm School in Rakai district, Central Uganda. He studied general farming at the vocational school and got a job at a veterinary clinic in the village of Kiwangala after graduating.
Word about David’s knack for treating animals spread throughout Kiwangala. Soon, farmers from nearby villages also were seeking out David’s services.
"I became very popular and people gave me a lot of business," David says. "This encouraged me to become self-employed."
So David started a nursery growing coffee plants, pine trees and fruit trees. "I would sell the plants and get money,” he says. “I also continued to treat animals, and both of these ventures brought in money for me."
By 2011, David had saved up enough money to open a shop selling animal medicine, crop fertilizers, seeds, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. He also owns 1½ acres of banana plantations, 4 acres of coffee plants, and 4 acres of nursery trees.
To give back to his community, David donates coffee seedlings to churches every season. He has also started his own Christian ministry that teaches others how to get out of poverty. Through his ministry, he emphasizes that both prayer and hard work are crucial to success.
David sees what adulthood might have been like for him when he looks at others who were not in the Child Sponsorship Program.
"If it wasn’t for Compassion, life would be bad," he says. "They didn’t go for studies. They live in harsh conditions, and it is not easy for them to get money and food."
David serves at the same child development center where he grew in the love of Christ and gained access to the resources to get out of poverty. He is now the Church Partnership Committee chairman at the center in Nakatete. Aside from overseeing Compassion’s regular auditing of the center, he makes sure activities run smoothly and that the property is taken care of.
"I would be a failure if it was not for Compassion," David says. “I would have no food for my family, no plan and no visibility."