Earlier this year, I was very happy to welcome to Uganda two representatives from Bee World Project. – BWP. Doug and Jag were in the country for a fast and fun few days, on a scouting and fact finding mission for BWP. Learn more about the amazing work BWP is involved with in several areas around the world by visiting their site – http://www.beeworldproject.org –
After returning to Canada, Doug kindly shared his journal notes and photos (below), from the day we brought him and Jag to visit two of the projects LITA is working on right now. In the wake of our incredibly wonderful day together and seeing first hand the children’s need, Doug was inspired to help raise funds for latrines for ACIO Child Care Center in Mutufu where we built housing for 40 orphaned children earlier this year. More information about the latrines and a donation button are available just below.. followed by two of Doug’s journal entries.
Contributions made through this specially designated paypal button will be allocated in their entirety to the building of latrines at the Mutufu Project. Thank you for your generosity and kindness Doug, Jag, BWP, and everyone. We are so grateful to all. (Cdn tax receipts are available and will be mailed to donors.. Thank you.)
Here are plans and a bill of quantities (quoted in Ugandan shillings) of all the materials to build one, two stall latrine with two bathing areas.. approximately $2500 – and our goal at LITA is to raise funds for two! Thanks very much for your contribution.
Please remember to read on below about Doug’s visit.
LATRINES For Orphaned Children – in full time care with ACIO – Aids Concern Integrated Organization – in Mutufu, Uganda
Part One – Our last full day in Mbale was, for me anyway, the personal highlight of my first visit to Africa. The day was so full I’m going to break it down into three parts.
On Wednesday morning, August 14, we set out by car with our faithful driver Muse, who’s driving prowess I have previously alluded to, to visit the sites of two LITA projects. Catherine Koch, who was our contact in Mbale for BWP investigation, is a Canadian who spends 6 – 9 months a year in Mbale and the rest back home in B.C. where she raises funds for this Canadian registered charity that she started 5 years ago by herself and a few friends.
Our BWP founders met Catherine quite serendipitously through Tides Canada when they were looking to connect with a registered Canadian charity working on the ground in Uganda. Subsequently, on their initial tour of Uganda and Ethiopia last October, Catherine hosted BWP much as she was, Jag and me, now.
Before leaving Canada, BWP had warned us both that we were going to meet a very special person at our arrival in Entebbe. We spied her tall blond figure heads above all the other welcomers at the airport holding a hand scribbled “BWP” sign to her forehead, and as we approached her I got the strong feeling I was about to meet a true “Earth Mother”, her broad smile and warms hugs of welcome oozed a kind of love I’ve never witnessed before on first meeting. Our harrying drive north through the bowels of Entebbe and Kampala was mitigated by her enthusiastic explanations of Uganda’s unique culture, traditions, precautions and transportation modes (she’s a veteran boba boda user).
She also relayed her story of how a successful Canadian business manager ended up in Uganda helping the unfortunate children left behind by the ravages of HIV AIDS. So this day we were going to tour two of her projects, and visit local traditional bee keepers in a remote area about 50 km north and east of Mbale, in the shadow of Mount Elgon.
The drive started out beautifully on a decent paved road. We soon passed through a sizeable village and came upon an ominous sign in the middle of the road.
The “accident ahead” was actually a fire still smoldering with people standing around dazed, trying to grasp what had just happened. This tragedy sobered us to the reality of how fragile life is in these parts, with essential services we take for granted, like Fire Departments, sadly missing. (No shortage of cell towers though!)
Soon after leaving this village we turned off onto a dirt road heading into the foothills of Mount Elgon. And this being the rainy season we got a taste for how difficult it is to travel these parts. Bear in mind there had been little rain so far, but still the roads tested Muse’s skill at finding the navigable parts that remained.
Eventually we approached a sub county in the district of Sironko where we were headed for our visit to the project LITA is helping a local community based orgainsation develop.. a child care center and school for HIV/AIDS orphaned kids.
Even in the smallest, most remote villages in Africa, commerce seems to thrive……… Along with agricultural processing in any convenient spot….. We stopped to pick up Vincent, a respected community leader in this village called Mutufu and the Director of the project we were on our way to visit. Everyone in this village seemed happy and busy with the fruits of their farming labour – vegetables, bananas, maze, coffee beans (best coffee I ever tasted).
On our approach to the child care center the kids anticipated our arrival and swarmed the vehicle some distance from the main buildings. The love greeting “Mummy” was palpable and both Jag & I got more than a little choked up!
Please read on for PART TWO………………
Part Two – After that unanticipated and emotional greeting from the kids upon our approach to the Mutufu site Jag & I managed to pull ourselves together sufficiently to take in our first look at this LITA funded, community supported project for HIV AIDS orphans in Mutufu.
The two open shelters on the left and right are the classrooms and in the distance beyond is the brand new residential building containing a boys and girls dorm, and offices for the school and various projects conducted from this facility. But before we started our tour of the new dorms we were treated to a wonderfully performed and joyous greeting song sung by all the kids who had assembled in the classroom building on the right.
Still reeling from our initial welcome at the road, I was still so enthralled with all we were witnessing that I forgot I had my smart phone video camera in my pocket and I failed to capture this wonderful performance with video and sound. However, before we left the site, and after all the kids had been corralled in class to continue their studies while we toured the dorms, I asked Vincent if it was possible for a repeat performance that I could record for my journal recipients. He readily agreed, but the kids were obviously a little bewildered at this request, and after re-assembling they gave their best efforts at a repeat performance.
This is a view of the same classroom from the kids vantage point, I can only guess what lesson they were learning before our intrusion. Each of these two structures is divided into two classrooms so I’m guessing the kids are practiced in quiet learning! That’s one of the teachers who is also a trained medic and looks after the kids medical needs.
Vincent then took us on a tour of the new residential building, a structure typical of local building practices in the area. This is the boys side of the dorm filled to capacity with double bunks and their belongings, which were few of course.
Catherine sent me this photo a week later after poor Joshua wound up in the hospital for three days being treated for malaria, and had returned home having won his battle with those nasty malaria parasites.
It turns out this project was originally located on another site which suffered a flood, and so the school was moved to this new site where, for some time they coped with just the two open sided structures that appear to have been here awhile, so I imagine they slept, ate and got their education in these crude structures. LITA raised funds and donated them for the construction of the new residence which was only completed a short time ago.
We had a chance to sit with Catherine and Vincent over traditional milked tea and snacks while Vincent related his serendipitous meeting with Catherine at an office in Mable, and how their relationship culminated in this much needed and obviously successful project.
Two of the girls came in to show Mummy their new enterprise….bracelets made from glass beads they’d purchased in the nearby village. I jumped at the chance of being their first paying customer, and my four younger grandchildren now have mementos of Granddad’s big African Adventure!
Their communal toilet was a similar structure on the opposite end of the dorm, only it had a dug hole in the middle of the dirt floor for a toilet. I was too embarrassed to photograph this hopelessly inadequate facility, but resolved then and there that these children deserved a decent latrine and bathing area, and so I came away with a commitment to myself and Mummy’s kids that they would get their new latrine, and the sooner the better because their health is at stake here. Catherine is going to post this Latrine Project on LITA’s web site soon, and so in exchange for receiving/indulging me my travel photo journals I’m going to be on your cases about contributing to this (tax receipted) charity, specifically to the Latrine Project when its posted. We will have drawings and an initial cost estimate very soon, but it is anticipated we’ll need to raise about $5,000 CDN, so I’m thinking that’s not very much money but it will go a very long way towards improving these kids lives.
By the time we left my head was swimming with all that I saw, heard and felt during our visit with the kids, and energized with the idea that even I could do something to make a difference in their lives. We left these wonderful people with promises to return, which in my case is highly likely.