September 9, 2006
Our Last Day
AWF Board Member Angela Martens with villagers from Mushasha in Ntungamo, Uganda and the hand pump well that Africare installed with funds from AWF.
This is our last day in Ntungamo and already my heart is aching to return.
The Africare staff here have become our friends and it has been so amazing to see how hard they are working to turn the funds raised by AWF into tangible change in people's lives.
Today we visited a village called Mushashsa and there was much singing and dancing and thanksgiving. Everywhere we go we find such joy and spirit in the people and it fills me with so much emotion to see how much they are thankful for what they do have which by our western standards is not much at all but I think the thing that strikes me the most is their sense of community with each other and how time and time again we have been told of a village which recieved a well from AWF / Africare and then suddenly they are sharing it with the next village or parish. There is a spirit in these people that I am coming to envy. There is a beauty in these people that I've not experienced before.
Our filmmaker in tow, Steve, has been working very hard these past few days and says he has over 13 hours of footage to edit. I can assure you that we here at AWF are very anxious to share the footage and photographs with you as soon as we can. I'm sure we'll put something on the website quite soon. We also plan to update this blog with pictures once we can get back to faster internet connections so keep checking back.
Speaking of working hard, Angela and I were once again asked to carry water cans from a well to a home and it was quite a difficult task. I myself carried 10 gallons of water in two cans and I had to stop a few times as it was painful for my hands. I was then informed that this would be the amount of water that an adult women might carry 2 or 3 times a day and possibly while carry a child in a sash on her back. I'm sure I heard more than a few giggles from the folks who were watching me.
I feel like I could go on and on for many more paragraphs but I'll close by saying that we have fallen in love with this place and with these people and I cannot thank each of you enough who have made this work possible enough.
The work that AWF and Africare do here is real and it is changing lives!
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
So goodbye to Paul, Dennis, Frances and Jacob in Ntungamo. Goodbye to Anthony, Shanna & Dr. Kahiu in Kampala (and thanks for the cake!)
And goodbye beautiful Uganda!
Posted by Rob at 2:32 PM
September 6, 2006
Today was another full day. We started the day off by visiting the Kamgamba medical centre that has benefited from a water collection tank, funded by AWF. Rain water is collected and stored in a 1000L tank. The water can be accessed as needed from a tap at the base of the tank. The clean water is used for washing hands and hygiene and may be boiled for drinking water.
Next we headed back to Kyangra, the community that we visited yesterday, to see their fruit drying project. Fruit such as bananas, pineapples and papayas are washed and cut up. They are then put in the dryers to be dried by the sun over the next 2 or 3 days. The community can then sell the dry fruit for a profit. The fruit is organic and therefore they cannot use harsh soap to wash the fruit, their hands or the drying racks. They can only use the clean water from the well. If it were not for the well provided by AWF through Africare, the community would not be able to participate in this income generating project.
Next we visited Nyaburiza medical centre that had also benefited from a water collection tank funded by AWF. Here we were welcomed by the community and a local school sang welcome songs to us.
After lunch we visited a protected spring in Nyingozi, and saw how the run off water from the spring was used to grow a vegetable garden. The community again welcomed us with singing. Then Rob, Lynelle and I filled water containers with clean spring water and carried the water to huts a few minutes away. Lynelle and I just carried the 10L containers (that children use to carry water, but are still quite heavy) while Rob carried the 20L (44lb) of water that women would carry on his head up to the huts!
Posted by Angela at 2:40 PM
September 5, 2006
Water Is Life
Yesterday we met with Africare’s Country Representative in Uganda, Anthony Ngosi and then drove south 4 hours to Mbarara. Then this morning we met with Paul, Francis, Dennis, Gad-Sam and the rest of the staff from the field Africare field office in Ntungamo who are such a dedicated and passionate group of men and women. Then from there, they took us to meet the District Chairperson of Ntungamo, JW Karazaarwe, who wanted to personally thank everyone at AWF for their contributions to his district which works in close partnership with Africare. He went on to say to us that “water is life” and that it is the building block upon which many other programs have been based upon such as Child Health programs, Behavioral Change and HIV / AIDS Nutritional programs.
From there it was onto the village of Kyangara where we were greeted by about 200+ community members with overwhelming joy and celebration. At first, it was a bit strange for us to be regarded so highly by these beautiful, smiling, singing people but then I came to realize that it wasn’t us they were holding in such high regard as much as the idea that a small group of volunteers can come together and make such a life changing impact and so I want to pass that on to each and every one of you who have donated your time, money and energy to AWF.
After the water committee from the village gleefully showed us the hand pump well that was provided by Africare with the funding from AWF, we asked to see where they used to get their water from. We were taken for approximately a 1km hike down a very steep hill to a stagnate pool filled with algae. It was here that the elder of the community expressed his thankfulness that AWF “would come here to this place and walk with us”. I only wish each of you reading this could have heard that his words in person. I know I had a lump in my throat.
What a humbling day.
I want to leave you with this quote from District Chairperson Karazaarwe:
“Such a program that addresses the sentiments of people can never fail.”
I’ll try to write more tomorrow. Goodnight everyone and good job!
Posted by Rob at 5:33 PM
September 3, 2006
I've read about this place, I've watched the programs on TV, I've seen the statistics on the poverty but there is nothing, nothing that can prepare you for the sights & sounds & smells,the mud & tin shacks, the masses & masses of people, the traffic that makes driving in Manhattan look like a picnic. (Hats off to our driver, Julius who didn't even blink) And all that was just the the dizzying, frightening, exhilirating, our senses drive from the airport to downtown Kampala.As I'm writing this from the Namirembe Guest House on a hilltop overlooking the city with the sound of gospel choirs drifting up the hillside and it's just overwhelming, the heartbraking poverty and yet the beautiful, friendly people that we've met so far.
Today, Steve arrives & then tommorrow we meet up with Anthony from Africare.
"Blessings, blessings not just for the ones that kneel...thankfully."
Posted by Rob at 8:42 AM
September 1, 2006
Hello London, Hello Angela
Sitting in Heathrow waiting for our flight to Addis Ababa which will then take us onto Uganda, and we've met up with Angela in the chaos that is Heathrow Airport at the moment. As the board members of AWF are spread out across North America, we don't get to see each other very often, so it's great to be able to speak to each other in person.
Posted by Rob at 8:42 AM