Empowering HIV/AIDS orphaned children in Africa to a self sustainable future

Catherine Koch

Catherine Koch

Founder and President of Love Is The Answer, a Canadian registered charity serving orphaned children in Africa.

Rain, Rain, Potholes and Joy!


Love ~ It’s been a busy few days for me, followed by a few more with very limited power, so let’s see if I can catch us up to today, Friday.

I traveled back and forth from Mbale to Sironko last Saturday, Sunday and Monday, which may not sound much, but was actually a pretty brave and even somewhat remarkable 1 to 4 hour feat each way, plus or minus half a day, given the current weather and road conditions in these parts!

Just about every where one goes you can hear echos of “ahhh, this rain is tooooo much”.. and, I have to agree, it does seem so! With the rainy season now long overdue to end, creeks are running like rivers, rivers are running their banks and washing out bridges and low lying areas, roads are water logged.. I’ve seen one truck that jack knifed down a slippery muddy hill into an enbankment, and another that lost its load of timbers because of skidding, as we all slip slide around and bump and splash our ways through extreme potholes and ruts of the collasol variety.

Altogether, and in great African fashion, locals remains just as patient and accepting as normal, continuing on as usual, all be the ever present unpredicitable nature of life here even more accentuated in these conditions. Packed like a sardine in a matatu ( kinda like a volkswagon van with seats for 14 but more usually crammed with at least 22 humans, their stuff, and maybe a couple hens for good measure.. ) I’ve bounced my way along with the best of them, past establishments with names like “Obama’s Nice Salon” and “Good Gracious Stationary”, probably needing to remind myself way more often than my traveling companions that everything IS in perfect order, it IS all good! 🙂

I’ve had absolutely delightful visits wth the children at the center.. and I use that word, “center” softly. Presently, the children’s living conditions are extremely stark to say the least, and still.. their joy is complete, utterly and most abundantly overflowing. They are walking barefoot constantly in mud somehow able to have sparkling clean faces, sleeping in their one set of clothes, on cold damp ground, some with blankets, some with bamboo mats, some with mosquito nets, some with none, and all with huge smiles! I am told they are singing with joy late into the nights to know that we are thinking of them, we are Loving them.. and indeed, they are completely Loving us all right back!

Many moments this week I have felt like I’ve got sooo much to do.. and some clock somewhere is ticking. My mind is carrying many faces, stories, details, ideas and plans, the onion has many layers, and it’s as if all parts are laying on the table in front of me in equal measure. I feel often remided to stop and know.. whatever it is that I think I don’t have in my life that I think I need at the moment, like a battery that will hold power for more than a few hours in my laptop, or, like simple consistent power where I stay so I can communicate, read, write, or cook, or see, or bathe with warm water, or, like safe and reliable transport so I’m not scared stiff as I glide along on the back of a motorcycle on slippery slick paths with no physical protection, clutching my MacBook to my chest out of the rain and harm’s way.. is all just a joke.. on me!

I’ve met with the ACIO Board and discussed the current “Heifer” and “Poultry projects”, as well as the new friendship project with the Grade 1’s and 6’s @ VC school in Vancouver, and the “Solar Lantern”, “Solar Charging Station” and “Pad Power for Girls” projects. We’re beginning to cost out the Child Care Center most carefully.. and, we are working with the Cdn Gov about the actual building we are hoping to initiate soon. It’s important to CRA and us that 1) the land we shall help build on is legally held in the name of ACIO.. ( a land registry system is developing here but surveys are very expensive, and more often, especially in rural areas, ownership is noted by a piece of paper with a drawing of the land parcel on it and the names of the neighbors on all sides, along with some signatures including the stamp and signature of a local official.. ) and that 2) ACIO can reasonably show that once LITA has helped the community to build the center for the children and has moved on to other projects and areas, the improvements we have helped establish will continue to be used for charitable purposes long, long, long into the future. People are so helpful, and I’m very grateful to the Cdn Gov and all those who have walked this path before us who have learned how to guide and help us bring to reality projects that will offer lasting empowerment for the children!

But smaller, more pressing things are on the plate too, and we must start at the beginning. Yesterday I purchased 9 DZ pairs of “knickers” from a supplier who will give us good “muzungu” prices ( in other words, NOT increase the price 2 or 3 times higher just because I’m white ) for about 76,000 shillings or $30.. a great deal, I’d say! That’s one pair for each of the boys at the center, 2 for the pre-teen girls, and 3 prs for teen girls. Tomorrow we shall give them out when I have a meeting with 12 orphaned teen girls who are very excited to start the “Pad Power for Girls” sewing cirlce project (or whatever they want to call it).. more on that soon!

Be Blessed everyone, thank you for patience when it comes to sharing info with you here.. I’m enjoying a run of consistent power right now that started in the afternoon yesterday and has kept up all night.. I woke at 4am local time, hopped up and started cooking some beans and rice, have just now enjoyed a breakfast of same, and am about to take a warm shower! I am so grateful and happy.. it’s amazing how used I am to just expecting these things in my life, and the chance to be reminded that most people around the world live without them every day is something I find a gift to keep in my mind.. my heart..

And just like that, “power is gone” again! Gratitude for this time together.. now, off to have that shower while the water in the tank remains warm!

Much Love,

Cath xox

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