A look at the many different steps that have taken place with the construction of the Engeye water tank. The walls are now well beyond the halfway point and plumbing is now in our sights.
We’ve officially hit our final depth and are beginning construction of the bottom slab of the tank tomorrow morning 3/16/2012.
The issue of water is something that anyone who visits Ddegeya, or any area in rural Uganda for that matter, is very well aware of. When we first arrived at Engeye in July the dry season was just coming to an end and it was blatantly clear from the get-go that fetching an adequate amount of water for basic needs, such as cooking, cleaning, and bathing, is the most difficult and time-consuming part of everyday life in Ddegeya. Brenny and I immediately started brainstorming different ideas on how to solve, or at least improve, the situation. After a lot of ideas were tossed around (some of the ideas now looking back were pretty ridiculous) we finally found inspiration while touring another NGO, Tekera Resource Center, about an hour or so from our location. It is their system, which has been successfully operating for several years now, which we are hoping to duplicate (to a large extent) at Engeye.
This water system has several key features. First, the water we collect will be harvested using roof runoff from natural rainfall. Second, we are constructing a 50,000 liter below-ground tank. This will provide an adequate reservoir of water to get Engeye through the worst dry seasons without needing to fetch water from the borehole. Third, the below-ground tank will be fitted with a manual foot pump that will pump water from the below ground tank into a cistern raised approximately 10 feet off of the ground. This tank will allow gravity-fed running water in Engeye buildings which will give Engeye the opportunity to expand the number of services they provide such as dental care, maternity care, emergency cesarean sections, and surgery to the more than 12,000 patients they see annually.
In the last three months we have spent a large portion of our time communicating with engineers from both Uganda and the United States to iron out all of the details for the best way to construct this rainwater harvesting system. It is now, having received approval from our multiple sources, that we are moving forward with a fundraising campaign to make this idea become a reality. We are planning to reach our fundraising goal of $3,500 by February 15th and break ground on the project before March 1st.
To learn more about Engeye, the water project, or how you can help us in reaching our goal visit https://engeye.org/aboutus/history/95-engeyewater.html.
I am happy to report that the Christmas party at Engeye was a complete and total success. We had originally planned for about 200 children to attend and in reality nearly 300 showed up. Luckily, the hard work John (co-founder and Manager of Engeye) and the parents of the Engeye Scholars (who did much of the food prep and cooking the morning of the event) put into the preparations really paid off. Each child received a heaping plate of food, a soda, a small chocolate bar, a silly band, and two colored pencils. I think spending the day helping with the party and seeing how happy each kid was to receive these gifts was without a doubt one of the best experiences I’ve had in my 5 months here in Uganda.
In other news the project idea for a rainwater collection system that Brenny and I have been working on for several months now is hopefully going to become a reality. We are now mounting a fund raising campaign and hope to have the necessary capital to begin the project by February 15. I will post an in-depth blog on the logistics of our system and how people can contribute to its progression by next week.
Happy New Year to everyone!
As we now reach the halfway point of our Fellowship I’m happy to say I’m still enjoying everything I’m doing here in Ddegeya. We had a quiet Thanksgiving here, no turkey but definitely a few unique dishes,(including fried grasshoppers) which made it one for the memory books. Grasshopper season is pretty big here, many people take out loans in order to rent 50 gallon drums, aluminum roofing, and electricity in order to get a large harvest. (I’ll try to get a photo up to show how its done).
This is a big week at the clinic because this Sunday Engeye will be hosting a Christmas party for about 200 children in the village. Beef, rice, soda, and some sweets are all on the menu for each kid. We will also be setting up a projector screen to show the kids a film or two in the afternoon. Hopefully with some good weather it’ll be a great afternoon.
Sam Merlin, another Union graduate, arrived at the clinic last week and will be staying in Uganda for two more weeks as part of his travels around the world studying food, culture, and development. I have accompanied him this past week into different homes around the village where woman have been kind enough to let us come and observe their different styles and ingredients for cooking, as well as let him try and jump in and help when possible. It was definitely a great way to spend a few afternoons.
We are also in the process of organizing a great deal of renovations for St. Gertrude’s Primary School. The kids had their speech day/end of the year celebration a few weekends ago. A lot of drumming, singing, and dancing made for a fun day. (I have some great photos I’ll try to get up on here.) The kids are now on a long holiday through the first week of February so we are working to try and get all of the renovations and construction completed before the beginning of the next school year. Some of these improvements include building 31 new shutters for the academic buildings,(which will make improving the insides of the classrooms much easier without wind and rain pouring in), getting bunk beds for the girls dormitory (all of P7 and a percentage of P6 students board at the school and there are currently no beds), Filling in the potholes in the floors of the classrooms (in some cases 6 inches deep and 2 feet wide), installing wooden runners along the walls to allow for posters to be tacked in, and a variety of other small improvements. The great part about these improvements is that families of the current students will be assisting with construction, painting, etc. throughout the renovations. Doing things WITH the community is a great way to make sure everyone is invested in the project and will take care of their hard work.
News around Ddegeya/ Engeye include: The staff house nearing completion this week; windows, doors, and plastering will hopefully be wrapping up next week and two members of the staff will then be moving in. Joe and Cathy have completed their house and have been living there for a few weeks now. January and February will see several missions coming to Engeye, hopefully putting some new projects into action. The government has redone large sections of Mbararra Road, including through Ddegeya which has been a tremendous improvement and the clinic is still very busy seeing a large number of patients daily.
All is well here and there should be plenty more to report on in the near future.
Wow long delay in posting a blog, must be the time difference. I’m going to do my best to recap the last 5 weeks without drawing anything out too long. Brenny and I are still enjoying our time here in Ddegeya. Now that the rainy season is picking up and the planting season has come to an end, the clinic is seeing a surge in the number of patients it’s seeing on a daily basis. (Mondays and Fridays are continually packed). Teaching at St. Gertrude’s is also going well. The school year ends November 27 and our P7 class sits for their high school placement exams this today and tomorrow. Doing well on that exam is pretty crucial in determining their academic future so the pressure is on for them. We are working with Headmaster Paul and the Engeye Scholar coordinators to see what improvements we can make to the school before the next school year starts at the end of January.
We also just attended Sydney Paul Primary School’s parents’ day last Sunday where a large portion of the Engeye Scholars attend. A great day hanging out with the kids who are happy to show off their workbooks (Many of them are at the tops of their classes), and also great spending time with the proud parents. We have also picked up two more Americans in the last month, Joe (a pharmacist) and Cathy (an MD), a married couple from Chicago, who will be living here for the next year. They have been building a house which is now nearing completion; the second home we’ve seen built on Engeye property since we arrived 3 months ago. The construction of new ceilings for the examination rooms and pharmacy has also been completed in the last 2 weeks.
Some other interesting things we’ve been up to include attending the Uganda Cranes v. Kenya soccer match in Kampala a few weeks ago. Check out Brenny’s description of the game at brendankinnane.tumblr.com. We also attended an engagement party/introduction two weekends ago for our friends Jess and Ronnie. Lots of great people, music, food, beer, and dancing made for a great day and night (Ugandan electric slide was pretty awesome). Yesterday I went to church for the first time since I arrived in Uganda, one of the Engeye Scholars was supposed to be getting Confirmed however it was pushed back till next weekend. It is interesting how even though we speak a fairly minimal amount of Luganda it is easy to follow a Catholic mass as they are so similarly structured no matter where you are. What separated this mass from ones I have attended in the past is that I was the only white person at the mass so the priest invited me up to the pulpit at the end of the children’s mass to say a few words to the congregation as he translated to the 200 or so kids. So in that regard, the mass was a pretty unique experience and I’m looking forward to going to the Confirmation mass this weekend, hopefully without any surprise speeches.
All in all everything is going great here. Still learning and loving it.
Let you know more as I do