Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Day In Masaka

Beautiful Scenery
 Beautiful Weather
 Beautiful People

We spent two day in Masaka this week seeing the progress of the clean water project.  This project is turning out to be the best water project ever.
  • 60 protected springs
  • 10 clothes washing stations
  • 16 latrines for schools including a handwashing station
  • 15 rain water catchment systems for schools
  • Hygiene and Sanitation training for 3 sub-counties
  • Model village with 25 family latrines and 500 latrine slabs - training on how to build a family latrine targeted to raise the standard of living. Family latrine coverage from 40% to 70% 
    Typical unprotected spring water source - children stand on these boards and submerge jerri cans in the water as they gather the water needed for the day by their family.
    Construction of the spring showing the back of cement face currently this is the water source.  I wouldn't walk out on those logs.  There are snakes in those waters, even cobras. . . True!
Newly completed protected spring from the same source as above.

(This baby cobra was found at a construction site for a spring we were visiting.  Ssimbwa found it before we go to the spring and made sure we stayed away till they had killed it but there were children playing by the spring.  Spring was located where a natural spring drained into a swamp.)

In the villages wash is laid out to dry on the grass or bushes.  Someone washed their blankets today and left them to dry in the sunBlankets are real treasures and often are cut in half so share with other famiy members.

A new addition to our water projects is the washing station located right next to the new protected spring.  In Africa most people wash their clothes in a pan or bucket one for soapy water and if you have two, one for rinsing.  Before you wash you must haul the needed water up to your home and wash all your clothes using those two buckets of water for all your clothes.  A washing station has many advantages. 
  1.  It puts you close to the water source so you don't have to haul water
  2. You can change your water in your bucket as often as needed and have the opportunity of getting your clothes really clean.
  3. You have a clean place to do the wash rather than just in the dirt
  4. It offers an opportunity to do this chore with others in the neighborhood affording you a chance to socialize with your neighbors.
As we headed down the hill to one wash station we could hear the women talkiing and laughing as they did their wash.  All laughing and conversation stopped as we approached but too late.  We knew they were enjoying working together.  These washing stations are in great use and include a 3 line clothesline to hang your clothes up instead of drying them by laying them on the grass or bushes.  The project only has 10 washing stations but they have been placed at the busiest spring sites..

 Now you may not appreciate a pit latrine but believe me this is a luxury and one that this school is very grateful for.  They have 3 other latrines 2 old and one new but all three are falling into the pits.  The new one was not constructed well and it was built on a sink hole and is unusable as it has tipped over and fallen down into the sink hole.
We have made some changes to the latrine design also.  It has 2 stances for boys  plus a urinal and 3 stances for girls but a new addition is a bathroom (washroom) for girls to take care of their monthly needs.  It has a water source (a jeri can) and a drain so that used water can be disposed of.  This is a new mandate of the government that all new latrines have a bathroom for girls.  Girlsl are regularly absent from school 5 days as there has been no way to manage their needs while at schools.   All latrines are now constructed to be accessable to those with disabilities , ramps have been added and if there are children using wheelchairs one stance is altered to be wheelchair accessable and is provided with a sit down toilet seat.  See things are improving all the time.

Note the handwashing station.  This design has been upgraded to provide a cement base with a trough to divert the water away from the area and providing cement for students to stand on while washing their hands.  We are looking at a design that provides water catchment off the roof of the latrine sending the runoff to the water tank for handwashing.  We need to get that design a little more cost effective before we can include it.

H/S graduation class of the model village
 The Hygiene and Sanitation training has taken a good step forward.  We took only 4 trainers to Masaka and they have trained the sub-county health officers and the village health officers in the H/S program.  Each participant commits to being a trainer and is given a certificate of completion of the course and a t-shirt to wear when training.  The shirt designates them as a Hygiene and Sanitation Specialist (emblasoned on the back) and has the logo of the church on the front.
Their was no problem recruiting trainers and facilitators as everyone wants a t-shirt and who wouldn't want to be designated a specialist of something. 
Each participatnt took a turn teaching a principle of the H/S training.
It was wonderful to watch the excitement of the class and how well they were all responding to the program.  It is hard to believe that there are people in the world who have never learned the importance of washing their hands and how to help their families prevent illness.
Each trainee told of something new they had learned and would now be able to teach others about H/S.
Hard to believe that these principles are new but most of the remote villages we visit have never had outside training and welcome any new information.  
 As a result of the H/S training in the model village their is almost 100% compliance in building of a tippy tape for a family hand washing station.  The sad note here is that most of the people say they don't have access to soap.  We are working on a plan to show them how to make soap, something that our partner, Peace and Hope from the Maturation Training  project, is teaching in other villages.

Family latrines were being constructed and latrine slabs being distributed.  The 25 family latrines that are being constructed will go to families at risk, widows, elderly, handicapped, etc. 
 One of the recipients of the family latrine was pretty excited.  She told us thank you several times.
 She posed for a pic but not before she took off her head scarf.
 I gave her my necklace - she was very appreciative - and I got a big thank you hug.
It looks better on her than on me. 
Anyone willing to build a family latrine will be given a cement latrine slab to use as the base.  The trainers for the latrine construction have had to simplify the construction design for families building their own as they are unable to afford the bags of cement for a base or wood for siding.  They are using bamboo woven to make a mesh and then applying mud for the walls and a thatch roof - but the cement slab is a welcome addition.  They lay a base for the slab of logs and set the slab on top over the pit or they make clay bricks and build a base which they can take apart and move when the lartine is full.  The pits can not be dug as deep as usual as the water table is too high (close to the lake) and in digging you soon hit water.  The goal for the model village is 100% family latrine coverage.

Balloons were a big hit in the village but no one knew how to blow up a balloon or to tie one off either.  Balloons soon ran out and it didn't take long before all the suckers were gone also.
 Some kids didn't have time for suckers or balloons.
Where did he ever get that wheelbarrow - that looks easier than carrying it on your head- by far.
Hey, that's Farrell walking down to a spring.  The only bad thing about a protected spring is they are ALWAYS at the bottom of the hill.

Trek through the banana forest.
 Got to love Masaka - hills and vales, mountains and streams, forests and very ugly storks.
That nest and stand in the top of very tall trees in any community where there is garbage to eat.
But to make up for those very ugly storks there are many, many beautiful children.


Matthew said...

I love my parents. I am so glad you are Uganda, changing lives for the better.

Scarehaircare said...

Love the water project and the enthusiam of the village. I think my favorite picture has to be the woman with Mom's necklace.

Much love and hugs and prayers. xoxo

LBJ said...

I loved reading about this water project. The washing stations were especially interesting to me. Having a way to wash you and your clothes seems to be a wonderful addition to the life of people in remote areas. It's easy to see how your assignment changes lives for the better. Thanks for sharing.

Angela said...

It just makes me smile to see where and how you are living. It is just amazing. Something I think most people will never ever know...even if they take a vacation to Africa. The pictures are amazing and you both look super happy! Love the work you are doing. You're amazing

M.Barlow said...

We are very proud of you! Thank you for all of the pictures and great descriptions of your work.

Paula said...

You two are amazing. Your service is unbelievable. You are both our heros. So hard to believe so many people in the world do not even have the things we just expect. Thank you for being such great examples.