Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Situation in Zimbabwe

Mugabe's crackdown on our people leaves a trail of broken limbs, rape victims, torture victims, and dead bodies. Such is the reality of Zimbabwe today.
The quote is from Morgan Tsvangirai, pictured above after being beaten by Mugabe's forces, and who is the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe. This video shows the reality of Zimbabwe today.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Project Update

From Elliot: The past several weeks have gone by very quickly, with many things being undertaken here in the village. Abbas and I have been very busy starting several projects before I leave in mid-December. The projects include finishing the Standard 5 classroom at the Ulonge Primary School, facilitating the construction of 90 desks being built in the village (40 for the Ulonge Primary School and 50 for the Lundamatwe Primary School), fixing the other tire swing at the Ulonge Primary School, and continuing to make check-ups on orphans and other children in the village. All the supplies to complete the Standard 5 classroom and the desks were brought from town into the village to be built by local carpenters. It took a total of four trips and many hours of waiting and loading to get everything to the village. All the boards for the desks had to be planed and cut at a machine in town to be smooth. Also, the bags of cement you see me loading are 50kg (110 pounds), so it makes for a long day, even with help, when they have to be both loaded and unloaded. I hope the pictures will significantly supplement this update. Here is the Standard 5 classroom that is now being completed: Elliot loading bags of cement in town: Unloading the supplies at the Ulonge Primary School: The next two pictures are of desk construction in the village. Notice the OSHA approved footwear: The next two pictures are of the construction of rafters for the Standard 5 classroom at the Ulonge Primary School: Here is Abbas replacing the other tire at the Ulonge Primary School. To see photos of the other swing being replaced go here: Eliot attempting to fix a flat tire on his bike: Abbas and child:

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Update from Elliot

Elliot has spent long hours working to accomplish several goals for Project Kesho. Elliot is continuing to gather information about our target communities so that Project Kesho can understand the complex nature of these communities' needs and struggles, and the strengths present in these communities. He is also working hard to improve both the Lundamatwe and Ulonge Primary Schools before the start of the new school year in January. The improvements include more desks, more textbooks, improved uniforms, a new classroom at Ulonge and working to improve the village heath clinic to better meet the needs of the school children and the other villagers. Not only does this work require Elliot to arranage the purchase, transport and construction of materials, but it also requires Elliot to act as the liaison between the various stakeholders. To secure the funding for the new classroom, Elliot road his motorcycle (with Abbas valiantly riding along) all over the district to meet with various district and village level officials to make sure the new classroom would be ready in January. Here is a write up from Elliot with some pictures:
Information Gathering: Since my return from Dar es Salaam in the second week of September, after Ian departed, my job has been to collect data on several different aspects of the community. I initially didn’t expect this to take as long as it did, but everything seems to take longer here in Tanzania. Abbas and I have been completing interviews in the village: Abbas has been doing the interviewing and I have been driving us to some of the far away areas in the village, some up of which are up very bad and sandy roads as much as 8km (5miles) from the school. There are even children who have to walk the 8km each way to school. We have also had two meetings in the town of Kilolo, where the district headquarters are located. We met to talk with leaders of the education department about our work and funding issues between one of the schools and the district. We collected different data on resources the schools had, such as books, and collected data on the different water sources in the village. Projects at the Schools and in the Community: We have started several different projects at the school and in the community. We purchased some basic supplies for the village dispensary (cotton, gauze, syringes/needles, pain medicine, heart medicine, and anti-fungal medicine), as you can see from the picture. We were not able to buy all of the supplies the doctor requested. He requested penicillin and a couple of other antibiotics that the village badly needs, which cost several hundred dollars. Although the dispensary was only opened in July, it is running out of supplies because the district dispensary has not funded it with supplies. Not to fault the district dispensary, but it has not been supplied by the main dispensary in Dar es Salaam. We also are working to improve the quality of the uniforms at the schools. All students are supposed to have an emblem painted on their shirt, although some could not afford it. So, we arranged to have someone stamp an emblem on every student’s shirt at both Ulonge Primary School and Lundamatwe School. We are also working to have student’s uniforms sewn, but it is taking more time because almost every student’s uniforms needs repairs. The final thing we are completing in the schools is the construction of desks by a village carpenter for the schools. Lundamatwe Primary School will receive fifty desks and Ulonge Primary School will receive forty desks.
The partially completed grade 5 classroom at Ulonge Primary School: Abbas exhausted after a long day of conducting interviews. Hard to know if it was all the walking that made him tired or Elliot's driving. Or he could be depressed because he is sitting on top of clean drinking water that is out of reach because there is no pump. Because there is no access to clean water the villagers are forced to gather water from sources such as this: Donated medical supplies to meet the basic needs of the health clinic: The following are two pictures Elliot took from near his apartment in Iringa:

East African News

Here are some links to current events in East Africa: Kenya will hold national elections this December. Peace may be coming to Northern Uganda. Fighting has raged between a rebel group, the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Ugandan Government for nearly two decades, with civilians caught in the middle. The documentary Invisible Children shows the plight of thousands of children in Northern Uganda as the attempt to avoid being kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers or sex slaves. An article from the Seattle Times reports on the benefits of technology for the rural poor. The situation in the Eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to deteriorate. The region has been unstable since the mid 1990's after many of the Hutu perpetrators of the Rwandan Genocide fled to the region to hide. Fighting between various Hutu and Tutsi groups have in turn destabilized the region. Fighting has intensified since the end of August and has caused about 200,000 internally displaced refugees with an additional 13,000 refugees fleeing to Uganda. For an in depth look go here. The US has recently stated that it will begin to train the DRC army. An article from the BBC about the non-governmental response to the violence and an overview of the issues.