Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Water, water everywhere - but not a drop to drink!

I think I said that phrase before but it holds true here in Uganda. The rainfall is heavy and there is lots of water running everywhere. One of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Victoria, is just a few miles from Kampala but everywhere we go outside the city people are struggling for clean water.
We have inherited many ongoing water projects that include over one hundred of springs and several boreholes. Included in the projects are new latrines for several schools along with rainwater catchment and hygiene sanitation training for all the communities. This is what we have spent our last two weeks on trying to wrap our heads around these many projects.

Saturday we went to a turnover ceremony that represented 8 boreholes, one is for the school where the ceremony was to be held.

We took off in the morning for our first trek outside of Kampala heading towards Jinja and out to a district called IGANGA. Elder Rothey, the finance office of the mission, lives next door to us and he came over first thing in the morning and said he was going with us and would drive. What a relief as Farrell has driven very little yet and is finding driving on the WRONG side of the road rather difficult. What a beautiful ride. Pres. Richard Okello, the branch president in Seeta, met us at our apartment to act as our guide and to be the church representative at the ceremony. We didn’t know he lived in Seeta or we could have picked him up on the way as we went through Seeta on our way to the project. The roads were paved out to Jinja so the ride was very comfortable. Along the road side were fields of sugar cane and fields of tea. Pres. Okello told us the Indians had come to Uganda and were running these big tea plantations. Everywhere you looked was a beautiful landscape. The weather was beautiful and I got to ride in the front seat so I could see everything.

Just before we reached Jinja we crossed the Nile River. This is the headwaters of the Nile and the bridge was guarded by many soldiers. Elder Rothey said he stopped once and asked the soldiers what they were guarding and they said they didn’t know but they were standing guard anyway.

Jinja is a main city in Uganda and has lots of businesses but Pres. told us it is a very poor town with a big hospital with very little equipment. Sure would love to do another hospital project. We arrived in Jinja right on time to meet the site monitor, Hannington. We waited and waited and waited and finally Pres. called him.  He assured us he was on his way. He came tooling into town on a bodaboda.  In uganda motorcycles are called bodaboda because motorcycles were used during the war to monitor the borders, from border to border hence bodaboda. There are tons of bodabodas running around Uganda and they feel free to squeeze in any place they can fit (or not) even in dense fast moving traffic.

Hannington said he needed to get a clean shirt so he would have to run home for a minute so we waited some more. He returned wearing his suit and a clean shirt.

Our trek out to IGANGA was a bit different than our ride to Jinja - no paved roads from here – we were in the bush now and things started looking like the Africa we know and love.
Missionaries, village chief and Pres. Okello
Hannington took us to 4 boreholes showing us how they were constructed and meeting the people who were to benefit from the clean water. We finally ended up at St. Mathias Mawagala Secondary School. Many students and community members were waiting for us.
Women at the Well
Elder Barlow and Hannington (site monitor)
Elder Rothy teaching the Hoky Poky
We were invited to sit in front of the students and community members along with the dignitaries.

There were many speeches and then Pres. Okello got up and turned the borehole over to the school and community admonishing them to take care of it and guard it from damage. We were given a warm soda or water to drink and then the music started. The whole audience got up and started dancing. I pulled our my video camera and started filming the dancing and then I noticed that Elder Barlow was right in the middle of the students dancing away. It wasn’t long before Hannington jumped in and Pres. Okello wasn’t going to be out done so he jumped in too. (shouldn’t be publishing this we might get sent home.)  Dancing African Style

We all congregated out at the borehole and they asked me to pump some water so I pumped away while Elder Barlow snapped pics.

As we were being interviewed by the press that had come for the ceremony we noticed dark clouds gathering overhead and realized we needed to get out of there fast as a rain can turn the roads into lakes. As we climbed in the car some mommas came up and started singing and dancing showing their thanks for bringing clean water to their village.

We beat the rain but could see the clouds and the downpour as we left the area.

 Water, water everywhere -  and now there's some to drink
What a great day. Clean water - the gift of life.


Tiffany said...

Who knew Grandpa would need to use his dance skills while serving a mission? It looks like he is enjoying his mission experience.

Angela said...

Your video made my morning! Farrell, you're a natural.