Thursday, January 17, 2008
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Elliot was no slouch, to say the least, during the Fall of 2007. Some of what he did has been highlighted here and here already, and some has not. The following was written by Elliot (with my commenting in italics): Uganda: Following our adventurous trips in getting supplies to finish the Ulonge classroom in Tanzania (again, see here), Abbas and I headed to Uganda to complete another project that would become a much more interesting adventure than we ever hoped or wanted it to be. Our goal, to be completed in just ten days (including 4 and ½ days of travel), was to start building a bathroom at the Little Angels Primary School and have the construction far enough along so it could be completed after we left. We faced several barriers in this project, most notably the main language used in the town we were working in was Luganda, along with with some English proficiency, and the people not being upfront with all information. But, we managed to work through these barriers, and dig the hole for the bathroom. This was a different experience than digging the hole in Tanzania, the ground was quite wet but we had to first cut down a tree, remove the stump, and then remove the roots as dug down (don't worry there is plenty of pictures!!), so each project presents its own unique difficulties. We also had to arrange for all the supplies despite the language barrier. Somehow we had spare time (we were waiting for sand and bricks to be delivered), so we arranged for much needed repairs to desks and classrooms to be completed by the carpenter, with a little help from Abbas and I and the people at the school. This school is much smaller than the Tanzanian schools we work with and also needs a lot of work. Some students do not even have desks, they merely sit on benches or stumps and when it comes time to write they get down on their knees and write on the ground. For less than $100 we were able to replace or resurface 75% or more of their desks. We simply used the existing desks, some were 2x4s and some were 2x6s, and we purchased 2x12s to be used as the new desk tops. Also included in the $100 were two roofing sheets to cover holes in the roof and sides of the classrooms that were leaking. Many students were getting wet during class as it was (and still is) the rainy season and it rains almost every day. We also purchased food for the school-- two bags of rice and beans. The picture below will help illustrate transport in Uganda, showing that the motorcycle taxis are not only for people, but for lots of supplies as well. We were made to feel very welcome by the whole school, they had many songs and dances to perform for us, as well as a great play and I hope to be returning here someday. Although, I am not sure Abbas is as enthusiastic as I am about returning. While he had fun, and was the first person from his family to ever leave Tanzania, he seemed to prefer to speak Swahili and be in Tanzania. He found it hard because since he is black, Ugandans would start speaking Lugandan to him and he would have to explain he was from Tanzania and didn’t speak Lugandan. People would just stare at him and it made him very uncomfortable. I am sure the experience broadened both of us. Although neither of us enjoyed the bus trip back from Kampala to Dar es Salaam. Going to Kampala took a mere 27 hours (it actually wasn’t bad and there were no flat tires and we didn’t run out of gas, like when Elliot and I went in September), but on the return trip our alternator stopped working and we had to spend an extra night at a rest stop. That trip took 42 hours. Neither of us was very happy, but at least we made it safely. Part of the Welcoming Ceremony: Even the kids in preschool got into it: And some really got into it: Desk Repair: Removing the old desks: Abbas helping out: The finished product: Bathroom Construction: The site for the new bathroom with the tree that needed to be removed: The digging begins!: The digging continues and apparently Elliot lost his shoes: Abbas helping out again (what a sport!): The tree stumps meets it match!: Even though the stump is gone there is still a lot of digging to do!: Elliot in the finished hole (which only took 2 days to dig), and yes, he made it out: Lundamatwe and Ulonge: Following my return from Uganda, after two days of recuperation, a friend of mine came from the States to see what my job entailed in Tanzania and help out where he could, and of course go on safari. He also brought with him supplies for the Lundamatwe/Ulonge communities including: supplies to give to the dispensary, shoes and clothes to give away, and two soccer balls, one for each of the primary schools. He also helped as we distributed left over supplies from the summer (that we could not carry over in June) to needy orphans in Iringa (pens, pencils, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and candy). We had a wonderful time together, we visited Zanzibar for a night, we stayed in a wonderful tented camp (we saw hyenas and lions extremely close and a mother cheetah with two cubs). The roof is now completed on the Ulonge classroom and the carpenters were working on the walls and floor. This week the chalkboard will be installed to have the classroom ready for students, just in time for the new school to start (at the beginning of the calendar year). Enjoy the pictures! What the finished desks look like: The new classroom at Ulonge: The old Ulonge Primary School Sign: The new Ulonge School Sign (partially funded by Project Kesho): Village Clinic: The bare cupboards of the clinic: Supplies that were donated to Project Kesho for the clinic: Supplies purchased by Project Kesho for the clinic: The Village Doctor:
The violence that started with the release of the Kenyan Election Results on December 30th has not stopped. The violence is a mix of those frustrated with the dubious results of the election (for instance, in one precinct, voter turnout was 115%), long simmering tribal tensions between a couple of the larger tribes in Kenya, as well as those joining in the fray just to loot. So far over 600 people have died and 250,000 have fled their homes. The Kenyan Government has responded by banning public rallies and banning media broadcasts. There has also been numerous reports of Kenyan police and security forces open firing, with live ammunition, on people demonstrating against the election results. The danger is that this can quickly spiral out of control and scar a generation, as has happened in Rwanda and the Balkans.