Today we are in for a real African experience. We meet at 7 am in front of the convent and load into the back of a Land Rover truck equipped with a set of bars arching over the bed. Nicholas demonstrates that we will ride standing up, holding onto the bars and using our legs as shock absorbers. Sister Rita accompanies us, riding in the cab, with Phillip driving. Our objective will be to visit some locations of potential projects in the adjoining community.
Part of what we have learned about Buseesa is that it is only one of about 60 villages in the area, as shown on BCDC's jigsaw-like map that summarizes Nick's and Casey's explorations into the bush. And of these villages, Buseesa is faring the best economically, because of the presence of the SND Academy and BCDC.
Down the road and past the local bar "The Confort Zone", our first destination is Kaikara and the local health clinic that currently serves 3-5 people a day, usually administering malaria treatments. Malaria is the most fatal disease in the Kibali District, and when SND students return from break every second or third child has the disease. The treatment usually lasts a few days, and is very effective when begun early, so SND students almost always recover. However, most common villagers do not receive early treatment and do not survive. One woman at the clinic is receiving intravenous malaria treatment. Nicholas's idea is to help provide a refrigerator to the clinic, so vaccines could be stored and costs would decrease to the patients. As it is, few can afford to even come to the clinic to get the medicine they need.
Before driving further, we stop briefly to buy bottled water from a roadside vendor. We clean out his stock of 9 bottles... locals never buy bottled water so shops don't stock very much. Then we are off to Kayunga, to see a very proud private school. They have too few students (less than 120) to qualify for a government school, but they have taken the responsibility into their own hands and are running a perfectly acceptable Ugandan primary school out of a typically crude dirt floor, open-air building. Behind the school is a football field (soccer of course) that goes unused for the lack of a ball. Nicholas's idea here is to raise funds to construct a new school building and extend help to motivated people who show such initiative. The whole project would cost about $2000.
Next we move on towards Kakinda. Casey and Nick have to work together to find the track that leads into the bush that they discovered by boda boda only a few weeks earlier. Casey is surprised that the truck can navigate the whole trail, as we discover that the bars that buck and sway around our shoulders also double as brush guards... we duck low under them to avoid the tall grass and low hanging thorny limbs. Phillip shifts into 4L to grind up a hill and gets stopped halfway. He does something tricky with the emergency brake and revving the engine to punch over the ruts and rocks, and we are soon out on top of a scenic ridge.
A group of 25 or so children are out sitting at a table under a tree, and their young teacher greets us warmly. Sister Rita is a terrific diplomat, asking questions of how well the school is doing and what levels they teach. Christina, Jackie, Erin, and Mark discover the excitement that you can generate by filming singing kids on an iPhone (or just a simple digital photo) and then playing it back. It is a stunning experience for kids that probably have never even seen what they look like... no one has mirrors out here. Ed took a look in some students exercise books that every student clutched tightly, and discovered only a few pages had anything written on them. One girl was extremely proud to show her three booklets that had a handful of pages that were perfect scores. The teacher politely asked if we had brought a football, for they too had a sport field that went unused. Nicholas assured us that none of the children and most of the adults had never seen Buzunga (white people) before in their lives. Neither had we ever seen a remote Ugandan village in our lives!
We returned to SND in time for a lunch of posho (corn mush), beans, sauce, and avocado at the school cafeteria, and prepare for a farm tour led by Sister Rosaria and farm hand Jonan. They took us around the many acres of matoke (starchy banana), papaya, mango, guava, avocado, jack fruit, pineapple, sweet potato, cassava, yams, and tomato, and through a small garden of eggplant and a brassica green called sukuma wiki. Most crops were perennial plants that were propagated by removing shoots and suckers from old plants... not many crops were started from seed. The farm is larger than they have labor to keep up with, and some areas, they admitted, were a bit overgrown, and they were struggling with banana wilt in the lower matoke area.
There are many more animals kept here than it would appear at first glance. Jonan showed us their 57 goats, 82 free-range rabbits, 2 cattle, 64 pigs/ piglets, and 500 chickens that lay 7 flats of 30 eggs each day. On a meat menu day for the cafeteria, either 50 rabbits, three goats, or one pig would be slaughtered. All in all, we were pleased with the layout of the animal areas and the suitability for a biogas generator here. The manure supplies looked plentiful, but we still need to resolve the question of using human latrine waste in the digester as well. There are over a dozen latrines dotted around the campus, but none very near the livestock area. Our questions would have to wait until tomorrow, when we are scheduled to travel to a working biogas digester in Kasiisi, near Fort Portal, and discuss design questions with the owner of Green Heat, a Ugandan contractor that installs fixed-dome digesters that are based on latrine waste.