Day One - October 23rd
So our journey from Orange County that began on the afternoon of the 21st via Dubai (Thanks Gerald for the wonderful accommodations) and Addis Ababa had us eventually touchdown in Entebbe at 2.45 in the afternoon. Thanks Joyce for chaperoning us through customs and emigration and to Pastor Benjamin for meeting us with transportation. We went immediately to Kampala to take a look at a 29 Passenger Bus which was the fruit of three days of searching by pastor. We buy the Bus! By now its dark and too late to journey to Masaka so we stay the night in Kampala and Michael, the seller of the bus treats us to a very nice dinner.
Day Two - October 24th
More than just a little tired we get up early to begin the Journey to Masaka in the new Bus with our new driver Jimmy. It’s Sunday and we need to get Pastor to his Church on time to preach the message. As we are leaving Kampala we pull over at a large roundabout and Pastor starts to load up people, paying passengers! We are already in business. The first passenger is an older man with his 2o year old son. Three and half hours later we are in Masaka, we drop Benjamin, the man and his son at church, proceed to the other end of town to drop the remaining passengers off then to our hotel Marie Flo to drop our bags before returning to Church. The service has been in full swing for two and a half hours at this point and carries on for another three at least during which time, at a call for testimony, the old man comes to the front of the church and tells us how he is very poor, how his son who was a boda boda (Motorcycle taxi) driver in Kampala had accidently hit and killed a pedestrian, he was put in jail and his family had no money to defend him. His dad (the old man) went to Kampala, pleaded with the Magistrate and secured his son’s release but he had no money to get home, then our bus pulls up! The story ends with the man pledging some of his land for Benjamin to start a church in his village; the bus is already paying huge dividends. The rest of the day is spent catching up with Benjamin and his family and Bob exploring the many opportunities with the bus with Jimmy. As always the Hotel staff was welcoming and the electricity went out for most of the night “African Style”.
Day Three - October 25th
So today we had two objectives, get the bus road ready and get the water well survey completed. Bob had hoped that we might find a local dealership to provide a full diagnostic check up and rehabilitation of the bus, we ended up on a slippery, muddy slope outside a very questionable shed! The list was handed over and the mechanics went to work. Jimmy stayed to supervise that project while we made our way to The Orphanage (Click on this link to get an aerial view of the Orphanage, zoom out as far as you want to get your bearings). Our arrival was greeted with the customary gathering of the children singing songs (welcome dear visitors) and dancing, we were also treated to a comical skit where the kids pretended to be Bob and I with some other visitors, Very funny. Today was also the day that we met with Beau Abdulla of Living Water International, an awesome young man doing amazing work providing water wells to places and people that might never see fresh water supply without him and LWI. He helped us to interpret the survey and when we found that the well was not a viable option helped define and alternative program using a rain water catchment system and a 50,000 liter thank for storage. With his help we hope to complete this project before the new school year in February of 2011. We returned to Masaka to find that a lot of the work had been completed on the bus but it needed a trip to Kampala to have some of the more complicated repairs completed. A good day’s work
Day Four - October 26th
Jimmy left bright and early to take the bus for its work in Kampala and we headed back to the orphanage to spend time on the ground and get a true understanding of the needs. We spent the morning developing a program of work for the team that we hope to bring to the facility in July. Bob decided to figure out why the gas powered pump that should have pumped water from a lower reservoir to an elevated storage tank didn’t work. The story was that it had sat idle for weeks waiting for a part, the reality was that it had run out of oil, thankfully it was designed shut off when there was no oil in the reservoir, Bob had pumped the reservoir once by the time we left today and assigned responsibility, with instruction on how, to one of the secondary school boys. I spent most of my afternoon working in the classrooms, trying to get my arms around the curriculum and teachers needs. I had the opportunity to speak to almost all of the students and impressed on them that we are delighted to help provide all that they need at Jireh and that we only ask one thing in return, that they would apply themselves academically. That the graduate school with an education that will enable them to in turn give back to Jireh as teachers, doctors and engineers (their chosen fields), Another great day.
Day Five - October 27th
WE had a slight scare this morning; Benjamin called us at 9.30am to say there was no sign of the bus and no sign of Jimmy. Hearts stopped and prayer started, we eventually found both but you can imagine what we were thinking……………..So today was our day with Dr Peter Kizza and our opportunity to explore opportunities at The Medical Center at Kalungi but Peter also took us to see an orphanage near Kalungi where Chris Marshall and Kids Around the World had constructed a playground some months back. We specifically wanted to see an eco toilet project that had been constructed there. The medical center has made huge strides since my visit in 2007 and is just a week away from having a certified nurse training facility on site. Peter is so committed to this project that he sold his “ambulance” to finance the completion of the construction. The first job was to drop off almost 100lbs of medical supplies that had successfully journeyed with us Peter treated us to a wonderful lunch and then we went to see if we could help get the water running again. The solar panels that had been stolen had been replaced as had the pump but the water never did flow to the tank, the installers claimed that the pipes were blocked and they disappeared, that was six weeks ago, can you say frustrating! Not happy with the answer Bob and I decided to dismantle the pipes at the pump and found that he pressure being generated was unlikely to push water 1.5 meters let alone 1.5 kilometers, the pump is clearly undersized and poorly installed, a rope holds it in place instead of the four stainless steel bolts that existed with the original installation. We never did get it fixed but at least we lit a fire, hoping for a positive outcome. Next we went headed north to a small, VERY POOR village adjacent to Lake Victoria where another eco toilet project had been constructed. This one is awesome and led to a call to the US for a pledge of dollars to construct two at the orphanage, based on a guesstimate we were in business. These toilets are constructed in such a manner that the solid waste is incinerated for use as fertilizer and the wet waste is processed to also be used as a fertilizer. The perfect complement to farm project Benjamin had in mind. We were happy to get back to the Marie Flo hotel and enjoy a Nile beer after our day today and Jimmy had returned from Kampala, the bus looked amazing; everything seemed to work including interior lights and radio. Bob wanted to make sure this bus was ready for action on its first day of hire, November 1st. The bus should generate $800 per month in profit which will provide funding for 50% of the food needs at the orphanage.
Day Six - October 28th
Today is my 21st wedding anniversary and we are heading back to the orphanage but not before we ran a few errands. Bob wanted to buy food for the orphanage so we went to the mill and purchased 800 Kilos of ground maize. The bus proved to be a great transport vehicle as we packed it with 16 50 kilo bags! We also purchased a few soccer balls and netball, a specific request from my good friend Andrew Donner who made a generous donation to the cause just before we left, I have pictures Andrew! We then rendezvoused with the Peter Kizza who brought the contractor who constructed the eco toilets we liked and headed up the mountain. So it had been raining, the road to the orphanage is treacherous at the best of times but in the rain it’s a disaster and yes we got stuck! The picture you see is Frank after getting soaked in mud while attempting to push the car, I was also covered in mud but not quite that bad. If the estimate hadn’t already been prepared I was sure he would have included a new shirt and pants! As it was the estimate almost doubled over the guesstimate so I still have work to do to get this project funded but it is critical! Dr Kizza also committed to sending a nurse to the orphanage as part of their practical training, thanks Peter! The rest of the afternoon was spent with Jacqui learning more about the school and the processes, meeting with the teachers to understand their needs and finally saying goodbye to the children, we were treated to more songs and dancing and lots of hugs. Our final night at Marie Flo and two more meetings, The Mountain of the Lord Church committee and the Jireh Orphanage Committee to discuss priorities for both.
Day Seven - October 29th
An early departure from Masaka, destination Kyabazaala and a second Jireh Orphanage. Four and a half hours of bouncing on terrible roads and that’s before we went off road! This facility is focused more on day scholars but we were very impressed with hoe organized and how disciplined the children were. We took a tour, saw the classrooms and met two handicapped children that are cared for at the facility. Emma is twelve years old, looks as if she three and completely malnourished. She was rescued from a family who had locked her in a shed and fed her by throwing food at her daily. So very sad and yet now after year at Kyabazaala she is sitting up, eating and relates non verbally with the house mom who cares for her. After our tour we were entertained by the children “welcoming the visitors”! The good news about today is that we got to spend lots of quality time with Pastor Benjamin and explored lots of wonderful opportunities for the future at Jireh. We consummated the plan to fence and cultivate 10 acres of land to grow Maize adjacent to the orphanage. This effort will produce 4 bags of milled Maize per acre twice yearly, engage the students in the process and offset the remaining 50% of the food expenses. (We also agreed to add an additional 10 acres when we visit in July 2011). Of course this led to the idea that we should invest in a tractor which in turn led to a detour to a sugar cane factory later to inquire about the possibility of purchasing a second hand one! Prior to that detour we did take a break from our mission to visit the falls at the source of the Nile, paid a local $5 to jump in and ride them on an empty Jerry can. The one and half hour trip back to Kampala turned into a three and half hour nightmare so needless to say we reintroduced ourselves to a Nile Beer before collapsing!
Day Eight - October 30th
Our last day, a plan to relax, do a little shopping and get to the airport for our two day return Journey. We paid a visit to Jimmy’s house (our bus driver) were treated to a tour of the school he and his wife run together with his in laws. Our next stop was the Imperial Hotel for what we thought was an impromptu opportunity to meet with the wife of the president of Uganda. Instead she no showed for the event and we ended on stage in front of 200 Pastors as the token white people representing the rest of the world in the Global Evangelism Initiative 2010 – 2020. It was reported we actually ended up on TV that night…. Were huge in Kampala! Now we are running late for the airport but we decided to stop at a small restaurant for a bite to eat anyway which was very lucky because I discovered that I had left my lap top computer at the internet café we visited before we left the hotel. PANIC! Not to worry, a young lady from the hotel ran to the café, located the computer, jumped in a cab and raced across Kampala to get it to me! We ended up checking in just 20 minutes before scheduled departure, the amazing this is that we weren’t the last! Then it was rewind on the flights and spend 23 hours in the air. A wonderful trip, farewell from the muzungus!