Thursday, May 28, 2009

Invisible Children – Gulu, Uganda

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I had the opportunity to visit the Invisible Children, www.invisiblechildren.com, operation in Gulu, Uganda last week.


I was very impressed. They provide a great amount of service to the victims of the war. Child soldiers, sex slaves, refugees, etc. Through education assistance, tutoring, school construction and mentoring. They are training these victims in small craft and farming programs and microfinance programs. I was able to see the progression their folks are making from rudimentary involvement through constructing a new home and having thriving businesses.


The point of my visit is that they are looking to assist in moving people from the many IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps in the region back to their home or new villages. In order for people to want to move there must be the knowledge that at these places exists food and water security, safety and opportunities. Obviously we are interested in the water security component of this. We are hoping to team up with Charity:Water and Invisible Children to have a complete water and sanitation program for 20 communities in the area including borehole wells, EcoSan latrines and health and hygiene education. We will see what develops.


One of the communities we visited was Tyenakaya Village

DSCF1883 DSCF1886 The community is broken up into small clumps of housing for each family group and they all gather together at the central meeting point for fellowship and community events.DSCF1887 This sweet lady wanted to show us their water point which exists about 5 months per year. DSCF1893 DSCF1894The rest of the 7 months they travel to the water point they call Oyomomagoro which translates to “Week people can’t reach” about 3 hours round trip.

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I hope to be able to update this story as well with action later in the year.

What is new with the family?

We have had a busy month.

We finally moved into our own home after 6 months. We are very excited about it and Ashley and I are doing a bunch of touch up work. Ashley is doing a great job of getting it nested up and the kids are very happy with their room situations.

Ashley is also super busy with volunteering at the kid's mission school, KICS. There has been a major shake up as the headmaster and some teachers have left to start up a new secular school in Kigali that will be designed more for the children of embassy staffs and large private corporations. We see this as a good thing that KICS can refocus on serving the Rwandan community and children of missionaries without fear of having "too Christian" of an environment. She is helping get the office organized, website work, student application process and procedures, etc. Busy Busy.

We fly home to visit all you loved ones in just 3 weeks. This is very exciting for us as we love it here and have made good friends but you guys are the best and unreplaceable. See you soon.

Bethany Centre School

About an hour South and West of Kampala is a small community with a wonderful Christian school started by a former exchange student to Louisiana State University – hence the awesome school uniforms, IMHO.


Bethany Centre School is sponsored by some friends from First Presbyterian Church of Baton Rouge and it was felt that the school needed a water source. They raised some funds and contacted me about the need. I had the honor and pleasure of going out to visit the school to check on the situation and am happy to say that just this Monday a borehole was drilled on the grounds and the pump should be completed sometime today.


Please excuse the poor photo quality apparently I was experiencing some light filtering difficulties with my camera.

IMG_0100 IMG_0121IMG_0134IMG_0109 IMG_0111 IMG_0131 IMG_0151 IMG_0153IMG_0156So, these supper cute kids must walk about 2km to fetch water for use at the school. They walk down a large hill to cross this “highway” that leads to a stone quarry, it is reported that many dump trucks barrel down this road and it is quite perilous for the younger children.

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This is the water source they are currently using. Not the worst by far but nothing nice. At least there was a previous attempt to protect this spring outlet.IMG_0144IMG_0146

I will update this post with some photos of the kids using their new well soon.

Updates

Wow, nothing in a month. I need to update. I have been spending a bunch of time in Uganda. LWI has sent a new family to kick off the full time operation there. So we are trying to develop relationships within the water community.

I will start off with some adventuresome stuff.

On my trip last week I headed north into the Lord's Resistance Army grounds where they took many children for soldiers and sex slaves, more on that in a post to follow. On the way up we were sideswiped head on by a large bus. Thank God no injuries. The rental car is just missing a mirror and some metal. The driver was so shaken up I had to drive the 4 hours to Gulu (which was fun as there are different monkey families hanging out along the way).

So, the highway on this route is rather new. Apparently the Ugandan Highway Department feels that the best way to design this highway is to place speed humps at 10 meter intervals for like 2 kilometers. It was completely insane space in the middle of nowhere, no schools, no communities, no reason to slow traffic in this area. No joke, more than 200 of these things.

The great thing about this road is that it crosses what is reported to be the headwaters of the great Nile river. It is amazingly beautiful.
Just to add some excitement after leaving this section of the road we encountered a Peoples Defense Force check point where a young soldier decided that he needed to confiscate my camera for national security reasons. I was not in agreement with his assessment and it wound up that 20,000 shillings ($10) was the "cost of freedom".