Sunday, July 3, 2011

June a very busy month

June has a bad reputation in Uganda. It is the beginning of the dry season when the frequency of malaria increases. Farmers harvest their corn, matoke and fruit and prices are low because of the abundance. This year we had many negative things happening in June
  • Demonstrations by some people, protesting the increased prices of food to the consumers, tax on food and people were desperate to afford food for their families.
  • Dry season came late causing harvest problems.
  • Many people have been sick with the flu and malaria resulting in many deaths even among our church members. Hardly a household has not been affected by these illnesses.
  • We have had lightening storms and there have been over 30 people killed by lightning and many more injured.
Ssimbwa said we had had an incredible month in humanitarian services this June and we had brought a positive outcome to this dreaded month. In June we have
  • Closed two very successful water projects
  • Opened two new water projects
  • Received our wheelchair shipment - Held the wheelchair training and started distribution of wheelchairs.
  • Closed a family health and hygiene project
  • Opened two more family health and hygiene projects.
  • We haven't had one accident (car) the whole month and we have come close many times.
According to Ssimbwa, "This has been a very good month. Even with all the bad things happening the Lord has blessed us all to have these good things happen."

MBALE Clean Water Project
7 June 2011
Implementation by: Union of Community Development Volunteers of Uganda
History: Construction of springs started 22 Jan 2011 - Finished 23 May 2011
Project consisted of
· 60 protecting spring water sources
· 15 school pit latrines with handwashing stations
· 15 rain water catchment systems at schools
· 30 clothes washing station
500 latrine slabs for at risk families without latrines
· 65 communities received Hygiene/Sanitation training
Ceremony held at the army school -2400 students - they desperately needed a new latrine and a water tank.
My new friend - I had to rescue her from the crowd as she had fallen down and the children were walking right over her.
Sign commemorating the dedication of the springs.
Elder and Sister Rixs came to the ceremony to represent the church. They are missionaries supporting the new branch in Mbale.

We had a dedication ceremony for the 60 springs with a ribbon cutting
Some of the women beneficiaries who were very excited to have a clothes washing station next to the spring.
A lot of entertainment - note the instruments - clay pot hit with a wooden mallet, flat rock beat with a stick and a
Ugandan drum - they made good music.

Beneficiary Communities: "Our community received 60 springs in 3 months. This is an accomplishment that has never before been heard of. Providing of 30 clothes washing stations a gift we had never before heard of now allows us to dispose of waste water effectively down stream instead of washing at the top of the hill where springs are generated and could be contaminated. This will save us from cholera and many diseases."

Head Teacher, Waluka John (representing the 15 schools receiving latrines and water catchment systems):
"Having the construction of the new design of VIP latrine with a school water catchment system is a land mark in our lives that will not be forgotten. We strongly urge all of the beneficiaries to protect and keep the gift that has been given."
LC3 Asharki Hahamas: (this man was very supportive of the project. He found a house for the construction crew to live in and gave UCDVU an office in the government complex of the sub-county.
"It was not by chance that you came to Mbale. You were sent to us. The tank provided for the Army school is life. We could not succeed without this water. We didn’t know your message to come was real we should not have been a doubting Thomas. We welcomed UCDVU giving them housing and an office to guide and protect them. They did what they said they would do in record time. What you have done is much but we need more."

Eddie Mutebi, Director of UCDVU: "On Jan 17th a Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Mbale District by THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS and the COU of Mbale District. Just 4 ½ months later the project is completed, Access for clean water has been given for 113,000 people of the district. Hygiene and Sanitation has greatly improved and will continue to improve with the teaching of the established Hygiene and Sanitation team. We have worked with the leaders at all level and have had good cooperation to implement this project."

Pres. George Mubeala - Mbale Branch President (He had just been sustained and set apart as the branch president for the newly organized Mbale Branch three days before this ceremony.): "The Church has been generous to our community. We only ask that you take care of this gift and make it last. You are all invited to visit us at our services every Sunday."
CAO Mbale District: "This event has been a accomplished in record time with an amount of work done that we have never had before. We extend our appreciation for all the work. Livelihoods have improved. Diarrhea and worms may now be avoided if the resources are kept clean and usable. Latrines will be spoiled if they are mistreated. The tanks at the schools must be protected and we encourage each school to put a cement barrier around these tanks to safe guard them. We have had problems of not maintaining the spring structures in the past and mistreating them. All communities must take responsibility and care for these structures. We are indebted to our donors."
Chairperson LCV - Official Guest: I attended a Hygiene and Sanitation training session. It was good and I learned. The trainers were good and made the training a good time.

We have been weak in clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Our rivers are silted and contaminated. We need to raise our standard especially in schools, our schools that can’t even afford chalk.

Your good deeds are coming from a Christian source. You have shown us that we should look after the body that God has given us. We are grateful for the influence you have brought to our communities.
Newly trained hygiene and sanitation trainers. They are specialists, it says so on the back of their shirts they got when they finished the training.

The greatest beneficiaries of these water projects are the women of the community.

Everyone receiving Hygiene and Sanitation training were asked to make a tippy tap for hand washing after using the latrine. They are very effective and people were very compliant in building them.

This man is a professional singer who happens to be handicapped. He sang about the abilities of people instead of concentrating on the disabilities. The day after this program he contacted the Rixs and asked for information about the church. He is taking the missionary discussions and is very interested in being baptized.

Many awards were given out at the ceremony with each person training in Hygiene and Sanitation program being given a certificate of completion, and the church was given a beautiful plaque in appreciation of the quality of the gift that was given. This plaque will be displayed at the church in Mbale.
Many children sang, danced and put on skits about what they had learned about hygiene and sanitation.

Kiryandongo Clean Water Project
10 June 2011
History: Construction of started 22 Jan 2011 - Finished 1 Jun 2011
Project consisted of
· 50 hand dug wells
· 14 school pit latrines with hand washing stations
· 14 rain water catchment systems at schools
Kiryandongo Level 3 hospital received a latrine and two water tanks
· 50 communities received Hygiene/Sanitation training
AHRIS , our contractor
We all met at AHRIS office prior to the turnover. We were greeted by these women singing about hygiene training and doing the dances of the Acholi.
Ssimbwa got in to it and played the drums for us - not bad but not quite as good as the real thing. The drummers in Uganda are very good. They drum bent over like this keeping a good steady beat and it goes on for a very long time.
Latrine at the Kiryandongo hospital has a terrazzo floor - easy to clean and will last a long time. Quite expensive but a good investment for a hospital.
The latrine was also outfitted with a water catchment system that feeds into the hand washing station which will help the sanitation for those using the latrine. This hospital has a water system that has failed and needs to be redone. An international organization keeps telling them that they will rehabilitate the system but nothing is happening yet. Meantime they are really struggling with their need for water and sanitation.
Wells are different than springs. They need continual maintenance and require a strong water committee to maintain the well and have people pay a small amount of money each month for the water. This well has been landscaped to help people realize the importance of maintaining the well. Each water committee was given training and some spare parts for their well and each sub=country was given tools and spare parts to maintain the wells. Water committees are charging each family using the well about 25 cents a month. This is enough money to pay for repairs as needed.
The head of the water committee is a very important person who needs to work closely with the community to maintain the well.
The district officer was pretty excited to get 50 new wells in his district. Their annual plan called for 2 wells for the whole district so 50 wells was a great windfall and then adding to that the latrines and water tanks at the schools. . . they felt like they had really won.
Our contractor Alex carved the table and chairs and presented them to us at the ceremony. We usually don't get gifts and if we do we usually give them away to someone in need. This gift was personalized in a way that it may be hard to give away.
Each piece is a carving of a well with people drawing water. They are beautiful and also have are name carved into them. Not easy to give away with that kind of personalization.
We were also given a chicken, a LIVE chicken. She is very colorful but she is alive. I explained to our site monitor, Hannington that he would need to take it as we had never killed and dressed a chicken ever and we were too old to start now. (I once told Olivia that I had never killed a chicken for dinner , ever. She did not believe me.)
So Hannington got the LIVE chicken. He is the site monitor he deserves the LIVE chicken. Besides our name wasn't carved into it so we didn't feel any personal obligation. (When we first met Hannington he told us he was a "man of few words." This is the same man that turned in a project report to us that was 300 pages long and bound - yes, a man of few words.)
We were served a LIGHT lunch but a lunch in Uganda is pretty substantial no matter what you call it.
They had lunch right in the middle of the program. This was moving way to slow so I went to help dish up food for 600 people. I made all the servers very nervous, I was putting too much food on the plate.
Just about every school had a number on the program. These dancers were very good and it was interesting to see the difference in the dancing from what we saw in Mbale. Although both areas are in the northern part of Uganda Mbale is east and Kiryandongo is central. Makes you realize how tribal the country is as the culture changes from one area to the next.
The dancers were very good and the singing was personalized, singing about the church and the gift of clean water and hygiene training.

Two turnover ceremonies in one week. What a great month June was turning out to be.


Angela said...

You're going to have to find a way to bring home that table and chairs. It's beautiful.

Eliza said...

I agree with Angela.

I'm glad you were still able to see the good things that happened even though there were some sad things going on too. That's a great skill to have.

Emma said...

Loved the comments on the chicken! I'm glad they didn't carve your name into the chicken.

Beautiful table/chairs!

I love the dancing in Africa. I love that they use dancing to tell stories or offer thanks. I think we need to do more dancing here!

Paul said...

Enjoyed reading your blog today for the first time -- especially about progress in the Mbale area. In 1967-68 our family lived in Ngora (west of Kumi on the road between Mbale and Soroti), where my father trained teachers. We made weekly shopping trips to Mbale and always marveled at the beauty of the area. Later moved to Kampala and participated in an LDS branch there comprised of families of 4 US aid workers. More recently my wife and I have been involved helping Rwandan, Burundian, and Congolese refugees resettling in Salt Lake City. Keep up the great work, and savor the experiences you are having!

Lincoln Farrell and Marilyn Barlow said...

Dear Paul
Uganda is forever changing - would like to hear more about your service in SLC. We served in DRC prior to this mission and have a love for the Congolese.