It was a beautiful day and when we got to Masaka there was a crowd of school children waiting near our hotel to escort us all to the ceremony. It was quite a parade with a band even.
We, the donors were to arrive at 11:00 AM to report to the hospitality room (Head Mistress Gertrude's office) of St. Bruno's school. We took 4 missionaries with us along with Ssimbwa.
|Elder Deal (USA), Elder Steeb (So. Africa), Elder Davis (USA) and Elder Chiromo (Zimbabwan)|
Madame Gertrude stated that they wanted to be a model school for Masaka District and getting a new latrine, a water catchment system and Hygiene and Sanitation training had put them on the right path.
Elder and Sister Barlow were dressed in the traditional Ugandan dress. Out fits appropriate for such an occasion.
We were escorted out onto the school yard where tents were set up and there was already a crowd assembled to greet us. There was a great cheer when they saw we were wearing the formal Ugandan Dress.
|Gomezi and Kanzu, the formal Ugandan clothing.|
|Teachers who became trainers for the Health and Sanitation training prepared a song about what they had learned. Note church logo on front with HEALTH AND HYGIENE SPECIALIST on the back.|
There was singing
and speakingThe Chairman LC III, Kyannamukaaka stated in his speech: "It is a great pleasure that today we are witnessing the role of the good Samaritan in improving water and sanitation coverage in Masaka District. . . . the organisation (the church) has identified the extreme cases of inadequacy , , , the goal of 100% water coverage cannot be achieved without the partnership of the civil society. This is a Godly task which we applaud as a basis for improved lives and transformation, hence poverty reduction."
Costumes are always bright and colorful with a band around hips with fur, feathers and anything that shakes accenting the movement of the dancers.
and speakingThe Catholic Priest, Rev. Fr.Mukwaya RC/PP said that the church was doing what the Savior said we were suppose to do quoting Matt 25:35-36, For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me:
He said the worst disease of Uganda was selfishness. Today we witnessed a very unselfish act of kindness.
There were certificates for all the team leaders of the Health and Hygiene training and keys to each latrine were given out to the schools (very official).
Pres. Richard Okello, Branch Pres. of Seeta branch spoke and gave the PR speech for the church. Elder Barlow told the crowd about the humanitarian efforts of the church and where the humanitarian funds come from. He introduced the missionaries and explained that they had come in response to the questions from many of them who wanted to know more about our church. He told them that after the ceremony they would be there to answer any questions they might have. He spoke about the cooperation from the district and the village in making the project successful and how everyone working together had been able to accomplish great things in just 4 months. Some of the schools serviced would have had to close if they didn't get adequate latrines for their students. He reminded the beneficiaries that the springs, the washing stations, the latrines, and the school rainwater catchment systems now belonged to them and that the church would only ask that they take good care of the gift and do all they could to maintain and keep the systems working well.
The chief guest Hon. Member of Parliament For Bukoto and Speaker of Parliament of the Republic of Uganda Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi called in the middle of the program to say he would not make it due to a special session in Parliament so he was represented by Hon. Member of Parliament Hon. JB Kawanga of Masaka Municipality. He gave a wonderful speech. It is election year and he is running again for Parliament but he never mentioned the election but instead focused on the generosity of the church and the actions of the communities. He told the group of his visit to Salt Lake City and how impressed he was with Utah. He explained that when our church came to Utah it was a desert and now it was a beautiful, lush city. This transformation was because of hard work and people investing in their community their time and talents to make the city what it is today. He admonished the people that they should follow this example and work hard to transform Uganda into a prosperous, beautiful place to live. He thanked the church for the extent of the project incorporating the needs of all facets of the community including girls in school and mothers(girls bathrooms in the latrines), women in the community (clothes washing stations) and the "remarkable contribution" of health/sanitation training, the elderly (family latrines for the risk population) and the gift of clean water, the "Gift of Life." He was touched by the effort the church went to to work with the district in accomplishing its goals. The district budget is limited and is never enough to accomplish what needs to be done but because of the gifts given the district would be able to show great strides in meeting the goals of 2010. He reminded everyone that maintaining the gift was their responsibility and not to waste this great gift.
When you are out in the villages looking at the schools and springs you will find the trained village facilitators in their official shirt designating them a Hygiene/Sanitation Specialist. We had a man ask us if we would give him a shirt and we told him he had to get the training and agree to train at least 10 families to be able to wear the coveted shirt. He shrug and said that is what his wife told him when he tried to get her shirt.
It was a bit of a surprise to us that each speaker expressed an appreciation of the health and hygiene training and the value it was to the community. They appreciated the organization of the program and how it was rolled out to the community. We actually only took 4 trainers to Masaka and they trained the sub county and village health officers to train and monitor the village facilitators in the training of each family in the three sub-counties we worked in. Again we were overwhelmed with the emphasis put on the H/S training and how much they valued it.
Hon J.B. Kawanga at one point turned to Elder Barlow and asked several questions about the church. He wanted to know if we believed in the Bible and Elder Barlow was able to explain some of the things we believe in. He offered to bring his Honor a MoTab album, and some other literature of the church if he was interested and he said he would appreciate that very much. Hon Kawanga has a reputation of being a very spiritual man with great integrity.
The MP dedicated and cut the ribbons on the latrines (they were locked up when finished waiting for the turnover ceremony before they could be officially used.) We will visit him in Kinshasa and take him the promised material.
Hon. Kawanga was invited to cut the ribbon on the new latrine , symbolic of all the latrines in the project. He also opened the tap of the rainwater catchment system. The tank was almost full of rainwater. These tanks will be the main source of water for the 15 schools.
We returned to St. Bruno's for dinner, matoki, beef, chicken steamed in banana leaves, rice, ground nut sauce (pureed peanuts), and pumpkin. . . Oh and the choice of coke or orange fanta, always.
After eating, the celebration looked like it was just getting started as the band was rocking out with at least 1000 school children dancing on the field. It looked like a mosh pit. We didn't care.
We walked right out in the middle of them and danced with the kids. The music was loud. The kids were having a great time and they loved us wanting to dance with them. Kind of hard to dance in a kanzu and a gomesi but we still had a great time.
As we left the elders had opened the back of their truck and right there in the shadow of the Catholic church and in the yard of St. Bruno's school they were handing out Book of Mormons and explaining the principles of the gospel to many people. They gave out 84 Book of Mormons, all that they had, and a case of Plan of Salvation pamphlets. Uganda is very tolerant of religious organizations and do not tolerate bashing of any religion.
Elder Steeb, Elder Chiromo, Elder Davis, Elder Deal, Ssimbwa
Farrell had us all go for dessert at the hotel and held a meeting to report the highlights of the day. The Elders were pretty pumped about the interest in the church and had set 7 appointments for the next day before they left Masaka. There are a few members of the church in Masaka but no formal meetings are held and right now there is no plan to send elders into the area to proselyte. The church is growing though and who knows, maybe it won't be long before the interest is so great that the only thing to do is start having church in Masaka.
What a great day, a culmination of hard work and a lot of fun. The hygiene/sanitation team said they had never had so much fun as they worked with the people of Masaka who were so receptive and willing to work to make the program successful.