Sunday, December 5, 2010

Celebrating Clean Water the Masaka Way

Here we are four months into the Masaka Water and Sanitation / Hygiene project and it is finished.  We originally met with the Masaka District Chief Administrative Officer on July 22 and immediately started on the project.   Four months later we are celebrating the completion.   It was a perfect project, well organized and very successful.

Friday was the celebration to hand the project over to the community.  We expected a big turnout and we weren't disappointed.  We estimated that there were 5,000 people in attendance.

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, head mistress of the school and a lovely lady, greeted us, had us sign the guest book (we have signed it every time we have gone to the school) and we were formally welcomed to St. Bruno and given a token of appreciation. 
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.
There were parents, school children, district/sub-county/ Parrish officials and the celebration began.  Very conspicuous were the Hygiene and Sanitation Shirts worn by all those who participated and became team leaders and facilitators for the program.  Each is designated as a Hygiene and Sanitation Specialist, written on the back of their shirt. 
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.
These H/S Specialists are over 750 people committed to reaching each village member with training on how to improve family health and sanitation and the best use of the new water sources.
There was singing
and dancing
and speaking
The 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."

and singing
and dancing
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 speaking
The 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.

He dedicated the beautiful spring and clothes washing station.  This particular protected spring serves four villages.

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.

Eddie Mutebi, the water contractor, was also the general manager of the project in that he coordinated the project making the project run so smoothly and getting it finished in record time.  His organization, the UCDV Union of Community Development Volunteers constructed the springs clothes washing stations, SAMURON (two returned missionaries) constructed the latrines and hand washing stations.  Eddie Mutebi continues to amaze us as he grows and "lengthens his stride."  It was a great team, this Masaka team.  This was a great project, one we hope to recreate in other areas of Uganda.

These Ugandan women got a big laugh out of my Gomesi outfit so I made them take a picture with me.  The sleeves are puffed up to look like wings, and on me the sash kept sagging almost falling off and on the side is two yards of skirt accordion pleated and folded over the sash for stability.  Madame Gertrude kept coming up all day and readjusting my outfit to look proper and I just couldn't hold it all together.  Besides, for some reason a Gomesi just doesn't look as good on a Muzungu as it does on the beautiful Ugandan women.


Mikellcs said...

Wow! Very cool! I think the traditional dress is awesome! :)

M.Barlow said...

We are very, very proud of you! Keep up the great work!

Ginger Johnson said...

What wonderful work you are doing there!

And happy birthday! The world is a better place with you in it!

Jennie Lever said...

This is incredible! You guys are the best, most inspirational grandparents in the world! I love you two.
Also, I'm glad the missionaries had the opportunity to give away so many Book of Mormons!

LBJ said...

What a wonderful report on a fabulous experience. I think that the one leader hit the nail on the head when he talked about Utah and how the people worked to make the land blossom and now it's up to Uganda to do the same. That's the lesson that Sister Beck taught in Lubumbashi. It will take local people getting that picture for Afica to move forward. Great that their leader seemed to "Get it."
PS- Great outfit!!! I'm sure they loved seeing you wear it!

Angela said...

Besides your lovely outfits I think my favorite part of this was the t-shirts and how proudly people are wearing them. Super cool stuff going on down there.