Thursday, January 6, 2011

Taking Electricity for Granted…

I missed sending you posts for two days due to a power outage in Kabale. Let me try to catch up. Wednesday we accomplished many, many things. The van with Christopher, our driver, left Kabale at 8am with most of the team. Sue and Charles stayed in Kabale for an 8:30am meeting with the Engineer from the UNRA (Uganda National Road Authority) who, as it turns out, was sick and cancelled. We purchased a generator for the ACT instead. It became apparent that with the laptop, video camera, digital camera, printer (which we brought this time) and cell phones, it made no sense not to replace the broken generator so that this equipment might be fully utilized when needed.

The team arrived in the village and with great organizational skills separated the Muko Empowerment Program Women into three groups: one listening to Dale give a demonstration on accurate sewing techniques for making the sewn handcrafts. Holly spent time with them at another station, practicing cutting the cloth into the appropriate size squares with the cutting boards and instruments we brought last March The on to Bill (SIFE) who talked with the women about how the project was going over all. It was well-organized and flowed fairly smoothly. Many of the women brought baskets and beaded jewelry they had made and we purchased many baskets from them to bring back for sale in the US. I was amazed at how much better their skills were and the quality of the baskets. From the training we provided them 6 months ago, they had learned to make their own natural dyes from materials they found in the area. The baskets are gorgeous with beautiful natural colors.

At the same time that the MEP women were working with Dale, Bill and Holly, Ashley struck out with Alex, our Operations Manager, to begin visiting some orphan homes. Alex had arranged for us to visit 35 homes which turned out to be a near impossibility due to the road conditions and the distance the orphans live from the roads and office. They were able to visit 6 homes that afternoon. There are video tapes capturing the orphans and their homes and families we will be bringing back to the Sponsors.

I finished assessing the ACT office for the purchase and improvements of it. I spent time with Richard exploring the possibilities for the site and we have drawings and measurements to bring back to the ACT Facilities Team to begin working.

In the afternoon, we all piled into the van and Charle’s car to drive to Juna Amagara and see their school. For those of you who have been here last March, it is way past Habuhinga Hill and was quite a journey on the roads! Ben, their Director, is truly a vision-inspired person. He has built a campus of a senior high school on property he personally purchased that is about at a 45 degree angle. The building continues to climb and climb up the mountain. He gave us the grand tour.

We left there to “just pass by Habuhinga Hill”, one of the properties we are interested in for possible agricultural projects. As it turned out, we climbed up Habuhinga Hill on foot and met the “bataka”, the neighbors and many others. They had met with Charles Tuhaise the day before and negotiated letting us use the land instead of their using it for grazing. The land belongs to the government. The government had instructed us to get their permission first. They were ready to sign their papers when we arrived. Charles had a few forms but not the right ones. So, this will take place at a later time.

Following this, we moved onto Rev. Julius Kyarikunda’s house and the Ikamiro Church of Uganda (Anglican) and the clinic that has been entirely funded by St. John’s Episcopal. In 2008 when the team installed the solar power in the newly built clinic there were cheers of excitement. This time we all cheered to see the running water in the clinic with at least one sink in each room of the clinic. We also learned that the solar-powered vaccine refrigerator we installed in 2008 was still working great. In fact, the government health facilities nearby had lost power several times and they stored their vaccines at our clinic!

After visiting the clinic, we climbed a fair distance to see Sharon Kaata’s home and gardens. Sharon is an ACT-Muko Board member and grows, apples (a relatively new crop in Uganda), avocados, and mushrooms! It was a delight to see.

ACT is already widely recognized all throughout Muko Sub County now. Everyone we pass acknowledges us and what we are doing. That is important. We continue to build a name for the organization including with the government officials in Kabale.

We arrived in Kabale very late once again – around 10pm – for a late dinner and to bed at midnight.

We are blessed by God’s grace and guidance. Everything we are trying to accomplish somehow manages to get completed in a place that takes 10 times as long to do anything! We thank God for that.

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