It was a big day for Mukono/Buikwe water project. It was time to turn the project over to the community. This was to be a big day.;
We arrived at Kasoga Church of Uganda Primary School at 11:00 am to be greeted with quite a crowd. Four tents had been set up with 400 chairs. School children were everywhere in their bright school uniforms and many dressed in costume in preparation for the program.
Eddie, our contractor, had told us it would be a long day with many speeches and he was right. Although the reason for being together was to turn over the water project to the community it was very evident that the new district was going to take advantage of the situation and celebrate the organizing of the district at the same time. Everyone had something to say. Each speaker acknowledge in English the great gift of service that the church had given to the community and then switched to Lugandan to speak about the district and the plans for the future (kind of like a political rally).. Many dignitaries spoke including a representative of the President of Uganda, a member of Parliment, the District Chairman and the Bishop of the Mukono ward.
Rep. Office of the Pres. of Uganda, Semakula Betty
Bishop Fredrick Kyambadde Mukono Ward
Eddie Mutebi, Water Contractor
Buikwe District Chairman
Member of Parliment
In the middle of the program it started to rain hard. Everyone was scrambling to get under cover as the speeches went on.
It ended up hailing and the program stopped while everyone took cover inside the school or their cars. We jumped in the truck and ended up with 6 steaming bodies in our truck while we waited for the rain to subside. We were all soaking wet but so was everyone else.
Eddie had not given his speech yet and his new suit was now soaking wet. When it rains the men roll up their pant legs so their pants don’t get muddy.
The rain finally did subside and we all regrouped back to finish the program. It was Eddie’s turn to speak and he got up and started speaking and one of his workers came running out on to the field and turned down his pants as they were rolled half way to his knees. Hard to be dignified when your pants are rolled half way to your knees. but he did have on his new suit and he looked mighty fine.
Primary school sang "Thank you for the hygiene training."
There was some great native African dancing with beautiful costumes
(some people found their own entertainment - labels from water bottles)
This little guy followed me around all day. He wouldn't get to close but he was always there. Hegot carried away dancing when the music started and I got a video of him really getting into it.
Interspersed among the speakers, the children from different schools performed with song and interpretive dance about the training they received with the gift of water. They sang about learning the importance of washing their hands and drinking only clean water. About learning what causes illness and how to stay healthy. All was in Lugandan but we could certainly enjoy the singing and dancing even though we couldn’t understand the words.
After about 4 hours we adjourned with the dignitaries heading to the school latrine for the turnover ceremony.
The District Chairman did the honors and was very complimentary about the gift of sanitation as he accepted the project from the church with the understanding that now it was the communities responsibility. He washed his hands at the hand washing station which is a 5 gallon bucket set in cement with a tap. The children will keep the washing station filled with water. The latrine is a 5 stance latrine with 2 for boys and 3 for girls. The boys side has a trough which didn't seem very good to me but that is so that the latrine can accomodate many boys during their breaks and eliminate using the bush.
We then went to see the rain catchment system with the 10,000 liter tank that will provide water for the school children. This school has 630 students so the tank and latrine are a great blessing. This school received a 5 stance latrine, a hand washing station, a rain catchment system with a 10,000 liter tank and an existing tank that was not functioning was repaired so they have two tanks to service the 630 students plus faculty. This school represented the 18 schools that received latrines and water catchment systems throughout the district.
We treked to a spring and held another turnover ceremony.
When we returned to the school everyone was being fed refreshments, all 800 attendees, which included, rice chicken, beef, matoki (mashed bananas), irish potatoes pureed peanut sauce and coke or orange fanta.
This is actually Elder Barlow's plate of food that he was given. The peanut sauce is ground nuts cooked in banana leaves - the chicken is boiled - potatoes are roasted - bananas are mashed and cooked in banana leaves. there are many varieties of bananas here and this one is much like planteens but ? different - no way to get out of eating as it would be a great insult and besides they ushered us to the front of the line and everyone watched what we ate.
We left the school around 6:30 and didn’t get home till 11:00 PM due to a huge delay on the road because of a broken down truck which couldn’t get off the road.
Friday we turned around and did the same ceremony again for the other half of the project (project is spread over a large area and needed two ceremonies in order to include everyone.) This ceremony was held at Najja Parents School and was equally as impressive but only lasted 3 hours.
These are dressy affairs as everyone cmes in their Sunday best.
The native Ugandan dress is called a Gomesi a brightly coloured, long printed dress with puffed sleeves that reach the elbows. It is held in place by an ornate belt/sash, which is placed on the woman’s hips and is tied with a bow in front. It contains a lot of fabric.
One of the children’s songs at this ceremony was rather impressive as they sang about saying no to abortion.
Another song was sung in English about the gift of water “Thankyou for the Gift”.
Another group sang, "Who Will Stand For Africa!"
Another, "We welcome you, We love you!"
Two great days celebrating the gift of clean water.