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Uganda visit report available

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  • Bram Moolenaar
    A few weeks ago I have visited Vim s charityware project in Uganda. You can find my report with a few pictures here: http://iccf-holland.org/news.html A dutch
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 30, 2004
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      A few weeks ago I have visited Vim's charityware project in Uganda.
      You can find my report with a few pictures here:

      http://iccf-holland.org/news.html

      A dutch version is also available:

      http://iccf-holland.org/newsn.html


      If you enjoy using Vim, please consider sponsoring a child or making a
      donation to the Kibaale Children's Centre.

      If you have questions about the project, feel free to ask me.

      Here is the text without the pictures:

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      Visit to Kibaale Childrens Centre, November 2004

      More of the same - that could be the boring summary of my trip; but this
      actually means things are going very well. Quite often a project in Africa
      goes down the hill after a few years of success, so a childrens centre that
      started over ten years ago and continues to grow can be regarded a remarkable
      achievement.


      SCHOOL

      The school has added two more classes: one for primary and one for secondary.
      Within a few years there will be two classes at every level. A block with two
      new classrooms has been built. The vocational school, which teaches tailoring,
      carpentry and building, continues to run well. The carpentry students were
      busy making furniture for the new secondary library and study room. It is a good
      example of how the children learn a useful profession, and we save money at
      the same time! There is a total of about seven hundred children in school
      now. While I was there the P7 group was writing their exams. To help the
      children do their studies properly they were allowed to sleep at the school,
      so that they could study in the evening by the light provided by the
      generator.

      Forty-four children in S4 were taking their last exams: Biology and Swahili.
      This is the final class for them at the project; after the results have
      arrived they will have to decide what to do next. We hope that many of them
      can continue in advanced level, teacher training or something like that, but
      that is expensive. It is not only the cost of the school; they also need to
      pay for boarding, since the distance to their homes is too great. They
      can only undertake this level of education when a sponsor offers to pay for most of
      the costs.

      The special needs class is a remarkable group. There are five children who
      are deaf, and five children with mental disabilities. I talked to their
      teacher, Judith. She finds it a challenge to teach these children, since it
      takes a lot of time before they understand something. The progress they make
      and the smile on their faces is her reward. These children are not sponsored
      yet, and the staff required causes the cost to be relatively high. But we
      do want to continue to help these children.


      CLINIC

      The clinic was busy as ever. On Monday morning, when the doctor arrived, the
      patients quickly lined up to await their consultation. This went on for the
      whole day; the doctor only went home when it was getting dark. Fortunately, the
      government now provides us with some of the standard medicine. Treatment for
      less common problems still needs to be paid for by us and is sometimes
      very expensive. Half of the one-time donations is used to cover this.


      STAFF

      The foreign volunteers at KCC currently number five. Jackie Ammeter is the
      director for almost five years now; she understands the local people very
      well and knows how to deal with the problems that are encountered every day.
      Kenny Corpeno takes care of the sponsorship administration. All the letters
      to and from sponsors go through her. She also handles special requests from
      needy children, for example when they run out of food. That happened often
      this year, because of a serious drought. I am glad I met Kenny and hope to
      continue working with her. Margaret Kolthammer takes care of the school
      administration. Sandi and Earl help Jackie with whatever needs to be done. A
      nice team, I am grateful for their hospitality and company during my visit.

      There is a large number (about eighty) of Ugandan staff at the project - too
      many to get to know more than a few. Some of the veterans are the site
      manager Patrick, his wife and teacher Ellen, the child assistant Cephas, the
      cook Bira and headmaster Peter. It is good to see that many things are taken
      care of by Ugandans and that their experience grows. They form a good team to
      keep the project running. That they work well together can be observed by the
      growing number of married couples :-).


      PROBLEMS

      Is there nothing negative to mention? Well, not on a big scale. But there
      are small problems that keep coming back, such as girls in school getting
      pregnant and guardians abusing children. Even though many attempts are made
      to avoid this, it still happens. I think we can only continue to try hard to
      educate the people about these issues, so that the number of cases goes down.


      NATURE

      In the past years my time in Uganda was limited and I could only visit the
      project. Fortunately, this time I managed to make a weekend trip to Murchison
      Falls national park, a very nice nature reserve. Farming is prohibited in
      this area and the wild animals have priority. I saw elephants,
      giraffes, many birds and even lions. The center of the park is an impressive
      waterfall in the river Nile. The water falls fifty meters with so much
      power that it makes the rocks shake. It shows what a beautiful country Uganda
      is.


      COMMUNICATION

      As a special task on this trip I wanted to improve the communication
      facilities. That has always been a problem, since internet and fax is only
      available in the city. Answering a simple question often takes weeks. There
      is a GSM network in the region, but the signal at the project site is very weak. I
      brought a specific phone, antennas and cables with me for experiments.
      Unfortunately, the phone died before I could do any measurements. It took a
      week to find out that it could not be repaired. I managed to obtain a
      replacement phone in the city, but that one didn't work with the antennas.
      That was very frustrating, but then I got lucky: the village phone that was
      ordered months ago finally arrived two days before my trip ended - and the
      antenna plugs it uses fit the cables that I brought. Walking around with this
      setup, an antenna on a pole and pointing it in all directions, I managed to
      find a few spots with good signal. As a result it is now possible to use a
      mobile phone at the project without having to climb a hill. The next step is
      to setup e-mail. Since I didn't have a data cable for this phone I couldn't
      do that this trip. Also, a data connection is only possible for post-paid and
      we need to reserve budget for it. Hopefully we will manage to find money and
      make e-mail work soon.


      CONCLUSION

      I had a very good time in Uganda and was pleased to see to the project is
      running well. More and more children profit from our work and help. I am
      already looking forward to my next trip!


      Bram Moolenaar
      Treasurer ICCF Holland

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      --
      The most powerful force in the universe is gossip.

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