Going to Uganda
I’ve made the decision to go to Uganda In September; two weeks minimum, three weeks if I can swing it. I am going as an individual, but most of the work I plan to do is in conjunction with UCCF facilities, an organization doing quite a bit of good there. Their site is a good source of the situation on the ground and you can find most of the reason for my involvement at Winnie's site.
If you’ve come to this posting, I’ve probably sent you an email about it. Nearly everyone I have sent this to knows me well enough that I am not one to ask for money or help easily; I’m used to relying on myself. But the opportunity to do some real good is too big and, for the sake of the 350+ kids at the two orphanages- I have to ask. If I can get some help with it, it would give me extra disposable cash that I can use once I arrive in Uganda for needs that can only be addressed there. For every $5 of stuff or cash I get from outside, it means I can buy one more mosquito net to help a kid have a better shot at avoiding malaria yellow fever or other condition. So let me lay out the task I have for this trip.
I’ve been working with Winnie for two years now, and she has become my daughter in all senses but legal. It’s time I go meet her and see what she really needs. Here are some of the things I plan for her:
- Supply her with a laptop; also- to protect it- a lockable aluminum case and a bike chain to secure it to her wheelchair
- Give her at least three solid days of computer training: the basics, using Word and basic internet skills, including email and blog maintenance.
- Make sure her wheelchair is up to snuff and get her whatever she needs to make school easier for her. I'll very likely visit her school to make sure they resolved a couple issues.
Winnie’s home away from home; an orphanage of 200 kids in Kampala. Ritah, who runs the place, has been extremely helpful. My goal at this orphange:
- Bring as many multi-vitamins and ‘Tums’ (for calcium) for the kids as I can pack
- Ditto on t-shirts (Ritah's request)
- See what the situation is with mosquito netting and provide as much as possible for the kids. It really helps cut down on malaria, a real problem.
- See what else I can do.
The people who built Winnie’s chair, this is a group well worth support. The concept of creating a business of wheelchair manufacturing by people living in wheelchairs, is brilliant. No better understanding of the issues and a great way to establish a small business to employ those that- in the Third World- have trouble finding employment. I’ve tasked Winnie with finding out what they need, but I plan to bring at least additional hand tools.
Here I’m in REAL trouble. After I’d been told that this orphanage is on a good sized tract of land, I suggested the possibility of putting together what is needed for a football pitch (a soccer field to us Americans). When you’ve got 150 orphans and nothing organized for them to do, you’ve got more trouble than you might want to handle. Plus, it will be a reward mechanism for good academic performance or other accomplishments. The Ugandan members of UCCF went nuts about this suggestion! Great idea, they said. Unfortunately, the last Mzungu (white guy) they saw involved in their football, filled in on an adult's team and actually scored the only goal of the game. A very high precedence, especially for someone like myself (who is in the semi-sumo class) to deal with.
To build the soccer pitch, I know I’ll need the following:
- Soccer nets (intermediate youth at 6 feet by 12 feet) - about $70
- Scrimmage vests; at least one set, to distinguish teams- about $65
- Money to buy a dozen iron irrigation pipes (6 foot or 2 meter lengths) plus joints – maybe $100
- Corner flags and line markers
- Shovels, rakes,etc. to work the ground flat (and add to their gardening tools)
I don't know if I can explain to many of you how much difference doing this work has made in my life (not to mention the lives of the kids themselves). My new perspective on life has been priceless; so please forgive this blatant pitch for help. Spend a little time looking through Jeremy's Journal or some of Gordon's stuff, and you'll see what this is all about. Please send me an email if you'd like to help.