Friday, April 26, 2013


"Uganda has one of the highest rates of lightning strike deaths in the world and its capital Kampala has more days of lightning per year than any other city," according to the World Meteorological Organization.  Knowing that information has helped to put our own experience with lightning strikes into perspective.

  David had spent the previous week with a group of MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) computer 'techies' doing training and returned with two of them to do some work on our Internet system here.  They worked all out for two and a half days getting new equipment mounted on water towers and tweaking the system.  On Wednesday afternoon as John and Mark drove away, the winds began to pick up, thunder rumbled and lightning flashed in the sky.  David and I headed off for staff fellowship as the rain began to fall. Minutes later we heard a tremendous crash. Arriving home later that evening we learned that lightning must have struck our house and the ones surrounding it.  All the solar inverters were fried, (one had the cover completely blown off) and the newly mounted Internet boxes had their circuit boards destroyed.  So we're back to square one.  Ordering new material, finding a way to get it here, remounting it and praying that  lightning won't strike the same place twice.  In all of this we are conscious of God's protection and thankful that no one was hurt.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


We're happy to report that our latrine building project has been completed!

Uncle Bryon and Jonny (Cathie's nephew) headed up the construction crew this time while David was away doing some computer training put on by a MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) team in Kampala. Everything went smoothly and jajja was very excited to finally have a latrine. We are grateful for the way the family group and staff here pitched in to help and also appreciative of those who provided the funds to make it possible.

Bryon makes sure the walls are 'somehow' level.

                                                          The walls go up.

Plastering the inside.


The roof and doors are on!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Brick by Brick

Latrine Building Continued:

This Saturday was all bricklaying. 


We were excited that Cathie’s nephew Jonny was able to join us on the project.

 Getting the first several courses of bricks set took the full morning with Uncle Brian (our ever cheerful construction foreman) giving careful attention to getting it as square and plumb as possible.  Mud bricks that are very irregular in shape and size pose a challenge with every brick. 

After lunch we were able to make faster progress and get the David family children laying bricks as well.  At the end of the day, we are now more than halfway up.  In another day, we should be able to work on the upper courses and then roof the toilet side of the latrine and do the plastering.



She sits curled up in the doorway her bare feet caked with dirt.  A long stick rests beside her.  As we kneel in the dirt and offer our morning greetings, her wrinkled hands grasp ours tightly.  We have arrived at Jajja's home to continue building her latrine.

She laughs at our attempts to speak Luganda and then with surprising agility grasps her stick and pulls herself to an upright position. I scurry to follow her as she moves off behind the house. Her back is bent and she walks on the toes of one foot her leg twisted inward.

 A young boy following her, motions for Margaret (a girl from David family) and I to come.  "We're getting fire wood," Margaret explains.  Sure enough within a few minutes I see the tiny figure of Jajja point to some fallen branches and see the young boy quickly gather up some sticks.  Margaret and I follow suit picking up what we can.  I glance around for Jajja but she's gone.  After taking our load up to the house we walk back in the same direction and then I spot her.  A tiny figure, walking stick in one hand and a massive tree branch in the other.  She calls out for the young boy and he rushes to take the branches from her.

Half an hour later we're back at the compound and Jajja begins breaking the branches into smaller sticks.  She pulls herself along the dirt to the shelter of sticks and rusted iron sheet that are her kitchen and lays the wood between four stones.  Then she calls to the boy and he rushes off again. "He's gone for fire," Margaret explains.  Minutes later he's back with some smoldering wood carefully balanced on a small piece of iron sheet.  Jajja quickly adds them to the wood and chin on the dirt begins to blow on the fire.  The air is soon thick with smoke as the wood ignites.  Then, motioning to Margaret for the jerry can, she pours the water that has been fetched from the bore hole into a large pot.  As the water slowly comes to a boil, we begin the job of sorting the beans we brought for lunch.  Another fire is started out in the open for the beans.


 Maize flour is added to the first pot for our porridge.  Preparations done, jajja retires to a pile of stones to watch the progress on the latrine.

This old woman has cared for many children over the years and the young boy and an older teenage boy now share her home.  These old women are often the only ones left to care for children in communities devastated by Aids. 

Throughout the day I watch her tenaciously attack each household task, from washing her clothes, to binding up the wound on her leg.  Exhausted by the late afternoon she falls asleep curled up on a mat on the cold floor of her house. 

She is oblivious to the happy shouts of neighbouring children who play with our wheelbarrow. 

Their faces full of curiousity this little group of children munch away on cassava roots and giggle hystarically when I show them their pictures. 

 Around 5:00 Jajja stirs.  She pulls herself up and begins to peel cassava for the evening meal.  The children gather around her anticipating some food.  She pulls a crying toddler beside her and stirs the pot.  As dusk falls and we gather up our tools she wearily lowers herself down on her mat to watch our departure.  There's still work to be done on the latrine but it will have to wait for another day.  Jajja settles down in the doorway again and I catch a glimpse of her as we drive away; head in hand, bare feet curled up underneath her. She has survived another day.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Luxury of a Latrine

How often have you stopped to be thankful for your toilet?

I found an article published last April in one of the newspapers here that gave some grim statistics about sanitation in Uganda.

Uganda needs 650,000 more latrines to ensure that every Ugandan has access to a latrine.

Currently, at least 3.2 million Ugandans have no latrines at all and their place of convenience is the open space, according to the latest Work Bank report.

The report indicates that another 13.8 million Ugandans use unsanitary or share latrines. This poor sanitation is costing the country at least 389bn Ugandan shillings ($150 million) annually.

These statistics took on a human face this past weekend. Thanks to a generous donation we received, we have been able to begin work to reduce that staggering number to 649,999.

We started a latrine building project with the David Family group that we are associated with at New Hope. The grandmother (jajja) of one of the children in the David Family (Nabukeera) has not had a latrine and has no means to provide one for herself – it has been a project that has been awaiting funding for some time.

(Nabukeera with her camera-shy Jajja.)
In addition to providing a much needed latrine, we also wanted to get the David Family children who at New Hope are comparatively so blessed to give back into their community by being involved in the work. Their help included the preparation, building, mixing cement and concrete, cooking and most importantly – fetching water from the nearest borehole which is about 750 meters away.

Prior to Friday we paid to have a local man dig the latrine pit – it is a 5 foot by 2 foot hole that is about 28 feet deep, dug by hand and emptied by bucket. It took four days to complete it.

On Friday we prepared the ground and made a foundation of bricks. We are being guided by Brian who is one of the construction foremen at New Hope.

On Saturday we had more of the Family Group with us for the heavy work of forming and pouring an 8x5 slab as the floor of the latrine.


One of the young adults in the Special Needs program is Kakande – he has lots of challenges but cheerfully works very hard and is a great example to the other boys in the family group. Kakande’s story is one of abandonment, mistreatment and abuse over the years. When we went to New Hope in earlier years he was still staying outside of New Hope and subject to some ongoing abuse. He was brought into New Hope to stay and be full time part of the Special Needs program and what a huge difference we have seen in his life! The Lord has indeed been gracious to Kakande and taught us in the David Family much through him. He worked so hard that day!

Next weekend we are planning to build the toilet closet on one side of the slab and an adjoining bathing closet on the other side. Since the rainy season seems to be really starting now (it has rained almost all day today!) we will hopefully get a dry day to continue on Saturday.