Father Godfrrey drove on until he found a sand pile by the road that was an advertisement to draw customers down a trail to an old river embankment. There, a few men had quarried a lode of sandy soil and sold us a small truckload for $4. Eventually, Father Godfrey got his truckload home and Ed and Jim got a sack of sand for the stove repair.
put on especially in our honor. About 60 children sanf and danced,
smiling ear to ear, while Sister Juliette did the calling and
From there, Ed and Jim met Sister Bernardi to discuss needed stove
repairs. This Sister is in charge of the kitchen and has a list of
needed improvements, only one of which is the biogas supply. Jim was
interested in attempting a concrete repair to one of the hearth
stoves, thinking of using his masonry skills from previous work in
Tanzania. Ed agreed to append the to-do list, hoping to get some
insight into how to undertake a small repair project in this setting.
All four of us met up again at BCDC to lead a meeting with the local
Water Board, a citizen groupinterested in improving village water
sources. About 10 were in attendance, and again provided Erin and
Connor with helpful informationabout the water sources. These two
water engineers and Jim then spent several hoursriding boda bodas (or
piki piki, we are not sure which is the best word for them) to
investigatethe locations, sometimes winding along narrow footpaths and
covering some distances.
Ed spent a good deal of time coordinating the purchase of a bag of
cement from Karaguzza. It also appeared that getting the sand for the
mixture would be anotherset of logistics. The "sand" used by locals
was a clay loam with some sand in it... the clay content was sometimes
compensated for by using extra Portland cement. The outcome was often
poor quality and low strength. This will be remembered as a valuable
insight for the time when construction begins.
As planned for the rest of the week, we all joined Tusabe, Michael,
and Moses at BCDC for dinner. It evidently often takes 4 hours or more
to to prepare a village dinner in Uganda, so we ate around 10 pm. The
wait was worth it, as we passed the time with good conversation and
the meal itself had 5 different delicious dishes. Afterwards, Tusabe
told us of a man from his village named Busaka who is revered as a
living god for his healing powers. His many followers, in three
countries, sell their possessions and give the money to his church in
hopes of earning favor and opportunities for a healing touch. No one
in the room took this man seriously, and we swapped stories of faith
healers in the United States that sounded similar.
breakfast. Muganzi, our first contractor to interview for the biogas
project, arrived unexpectedly early. He and Asiimwe John had driven 3
hours from Hoima on a boda boda and were waiting for Ed and Jim in the
waiting room of the convent. The interview went very well, and Muganzi
even arranged to meet us again in Mpala at 6 am Saturday to take us to
the market district and show us the materials he was confident they
could procure there, including the flexible rubber sheet and a burner
large enough to heat one of the school's kettles.
Erin and Connor had a preliminary meeting at BCDC, followed by a
long-awaited "kick-off" meeting with the BCDC officers and Father
Godfrey of the Parish. Erin began from square one with explaining
EWB's structure and project approach, to make sure that the water
project began with everyone on the same page. Father Godfrey expressed
his gratitude that EWB commits to the same project area for at least 5
years, and in fact hoped that there was not a maximum limit!
Since Ed played the smallest part in the water project, he was called
away to ride to Mubende to pick up our luggage from the airline
delivery there. Driver Phillip was an expert and safe driver, but was
in an understandable hurry, and Ed had a ride as close to the
Paris-Dakar offroad rally as he'd ever want! What a relief to return
with our luggage and deliver our care package cargo from the
Covington, KY convent to the Buseesa convent.
In the meantime, Erin, Connor, and Jim had scouted 3 water sources
near Buseesa Village and were preparing for a village LC1 meeting.
Adding Ed to the group, we were shuttled to the Akasalava crossroads
by boda boda in time to be front and center at the gathering. Erin
again did an excellent on-the-spot job explaining the EWB purpose and
project approach, with Connor as backup in answering key questions.
Locals named 5 water sources they thought could be candidates for the
first "protected spring" location. Wearing an "empowerment through
microfinance" t-shirt, Tusabe from BCDC handled the translating. All
finished well, and the LC1 continued their meeting with an
introduction of the new national identification card program.
minutes from the Equator. Just outside our rooms, a large heron danced
around the soccer field looking for rats and snakes in the grass, and
two black ibis worked the sidelines. Team members found breakfast at
the convent and lingered for two hours for a very productive
discussion of the water project planning. Erin Cummings is leading the
project and hopes to present a clear outline to BCDC members on
Tuesday. Jim Moyer's previous experience on three EWB student projects
in Tanzania is providing helpful insights into do's and don'ts at this
Easter Mass filled the school dining hall with many Notre Dame
students and a good portion of the Parish as well. A nice breeze blew
in through open doors and windows as swallows sang, darted, and dived
among the rafters and up and down the aisle. Father Godfrey welcomed
us warmly before the service and suprised us at the end by asking us
to speak in front of the congregation. He translated our basic
introductions and statements of the work we expected to do this week.
We felt honored to be received by the community in this way. Several
locals approached us afterwards with questions related to both
One man named Leopold explained to us what a blessing the Sisters of
Notre Dame have been for his Buseesa Community by providing a high
quality education for their children. He felt the Sisters showed the
villagers a lot of respect by allowing them to trade food, supplies,
and labor for their school fees. Leopold thought great potential
benefits could come as the villagers learned from both the biogas and
water projects that the school attracted. We parted and promised to
see each other at the upcoming BCDC meeting.
Matia was another familiar face from our previous trip. One of the key
BCDC employees, he also met with us outside the dining hall and
introduced his family to us. His youngest son is named Nicholas, after
the founder of BCDC. Matia invited us to all go to the nearby town of
Karaguzza to see another friend, Winnie, and to enjoy the town. Erin,
Connor, and Jim accepted, and were also able to scout for hardware,
complete errands, and learn about the water distribution system there.
Ed remained at the school and had a very productive meeting with
Sisters Anita and Judith to update them on the biogas project status
and the outlook towards eventual implementation.
Everyone re-convened for a private Easter dinner with the Sisters, and
a few rounds of cards and dominos afterwards. The bell rang at the
door at an unexpected hour and news came from a watchman that there
had been a vehicle fire down the road in Akasalava. It was a bus
carrying a football (soccer) team back from a match, and it was
engulfed in flame. Fortunately, no one was hurt. The smouldering
carriage was seen the next day in the middle of the road, smoke still
rising from the lumps that used to be the tires. The message the
locals passed up the road through the grapevine was a warning to turn
off your house lights to prevent the fire from spreading through the
electrical power system...?!
The travel team awoke Saturday morning in Mpala to a nice gentle rain that became a sunshower as the sun came up. Different birds were singing and the roosters were crowing in the neighborhood surrounding the Notre Dame's Preschool compound. We had arrived Friday midnight after a fairly smooth flight marred mostly by the loss of everyone's checked luggage! Fortunately we all have basic items and clothes in our carry-ons to last until our bags can be delivered to us in Mubende. Sisters Anita and Judith met us at the airport, and their driver Phillip drove everyone on the left side of the road, through a few roundabouts, and past a police checkpoint to our accommodations in Mpala.
Some things feel different from last year's trip, like the rain, and some things are the same, like the people, the rooms, and the continental breakfast. After some boiled eggs from the hens, small sweet bananas from the trees, and a bit of 'fat spread' and jam on bread, we are now organizing ourselves for the day, using the last speedy internet access we will have for several days, and generally settling into the rhythm of Uganda.
This is just a quick entry to test the mail2blogger system of publishing my blog entry. This year I should be able to publish this directly via email from the boarding school in Buseesa, Uganda, as long as the sun is shining and the solar cells are charging!
This will be the second assessment trip for the Biogas Group (represented by Jim Moyer and Ed Kohinke), and the first assessment trip for the Water Group (represented by Erin Cummings and Connor Smith). We depart tomorrow, April 17th, at 4pm, and return April 27th at about the same time. Ed Kohinke and Erin Cummings were on the travel team last year. Jim Moyer has extensive travel experience with the UC student chapter of EWB in Tanzania. Connor Smith is along for his first EWB trip.
The forecast in Uganda is for 80 degrees everyday and thunderstorms every afternoon... the rainy season!