January 2018 Trip Highlights
It was another fabulous trip to Kabingo. The very committed Engineers Without Borders’ team successfully contracted the drilling of new wells and built a water treatment plant. Dr. Jim Maher worked with the dispensary staff and is working on a plan to improve the lab environment and expand available tests. My goal was to check on HFK’s many projects, see how we could be helpful and understand the ongoing barriers.
EWB Water Project
Two professional engineers and four Miami University Students worked with the Ugandan team including two HFK sponsored engineering students, HFK sponsored chemistry teacher and many other workers.
The EWB team was pleased with the community response in terms of service and partnership.
Two bore holes were drilled – one with the tested capacity of over 9,000 liters/hour the other estimated to be 4,500 liters/hour. The testing of the second was ongoing when we left. For reference, a solid production well is 3,000 – 4,500 liters per hour.
The larger capacity well had very high iron content, but low manganese.
The engineer team constructed a pilot water treatment plant behind the secondary school. Initial testing indicated reduced iron.
They had planned to build 2 pilot plants, but due to time focused on completing 1 working pilot vs 2 incomplete. This also allows for them to see how well the first prototype works and making adjustments on the second.
Francis (chemistry teacher) will perform water testing. Roman (plumber) will provide maintenance.
Estimates for two concrete water storage tanks (60,000 liters each) for the permanent water plant were obtained.
Chuck and John, the two professional engineers, are considering returning with our team this July.
They would like to purchase a detailed satellite topography map of the area which will be of great help in planning. They will give further details about the cost and indication.
They agreed to provide a water project update to us within the next couple of months.
EWB is restructuring at a national level - pulling back in some countries and expanding in others. Fortunately, Uganda made the expansion list!
The schools, dispensary, Women’s center and several homes are hooked into the grid. Work needs to be done to integrate with the existing solar panels.
Father will submit a RFF for additional work to fully connect and integrate with solar.
I think acceptance will be gradual though advancements that electricity will allow came up in multiple conversations during the week.
Father Richard and others reviewed and truly appreciated the electrical safety education sheet developed by Brian and translated by Justine and Maria. He will give to the village health workers and Chiefs to distribute.
The students were on vacation so the place seemed like a ghost town!
The results for the primary school national exam were coming in over the week. Out of 29 students sitting for the exam, there were 8 first grades (the highest) which is very remarkable. Only one failure – sorry to say it was our special girl. They were still waiting for the remainder of the results when we left.
Father Richard purchased a 26 seat bus to transport the students to events and possibly leased out for other local groups.
Jim Maher worked with Francis (Father’s brother) to correct the computer room power issue.
The perimeter of the primary school is being fenced in. They making the poles out of concrete when we left.
Students, especially girls, are leaving the secondary school. This is a national problem. There were around 30-40 who left St. Bakhita last year.
Earlier this week, a first year pharmacy student and her family came unannounced to the guest house asking Father for funds for room and board otherwise she would have to drop out. She, of course, received help. Loaves and fishes!
Jim researched and collaborated with the dispensary staff, especially, Aloys, to develop a plan to improve the lab services. He is working on the details and will provide input in the next few weeks. Spoiler alert - anticipate a thorough and well thought out plan.
There were still a ton of medications left over from last summer. They were mixed in with our other supplies. I separated them and Madame Dahlia will make sure the dispensary uses them.
There are now concrete trenches around the dispensary to avoid erosion. The courtyard now has concrete walkways including in front of the steps. It looks amazing.
The dispensary board met twice recently. The chairman had been in Europe for several months delaying meeting more often. They are now committed to meeting monthly.
Jim and I attended one of the meetings where the members met with community leaders to encourage use of the dispensary. This began the following Sunday after Mass.
John Fisher and Florence remain staff the dispensary around the clock.
Max, a clinical officer, staffs the dispensary 2 days a week. He doesn’t have consistent transportation to Kabingo when school is on break as the teachers’ shuttle doesn’t run.
Ruth, the lab tech, left due to illness in May 2017. No one knows if she’ll return. The nurses are able to do the simple tests.
Inventories of medications and lab supplies aren’t kept so they run out. Jim and I discussed the importance of keeping records and anticipating the need for supplies and meds so they can be ordered a head of time. They did report a good response time once they notified Madame of the need.
Fred Bbaale is the interim Agriculture Coordinator. He is waiting to hear about his application to the seminary. He is getting oriented to the many projects and has good understanding of the purpose of his position.
Kizito, proved to be resistant to redirection and went MIA last August (not returning calls, etc). He returned a broken laptop, sold PICS bags and ran the corn mill without accounting for the funds. Father Richard met with him to discuss and didn’t receive any reasonable response.
Per Fred, villagers were asking to purchase the PICS bags indicating their increased acceptance. There were only a few left and no money to purchase more (after Kizito). Father and I spoke about the importance of having them available and he purchased 300 for the school and villagers. I hope we can fund this out of 2016 golf outing funds.
The Women’s Bank continues to operate and is considered to be beneficial. They are struggling with 8 women who are not repaying their loans. The Bank leaders are working working with the UAB and local Chiefs to encourage repayment. Father will meet with Elizabeth to discuss a complaint that she is putting forth applicants for loans without full input from the Bank leadership. 2 new Bank leaders are now in place.
The Basket Co-op completed the full order the Flute Makers (who buy them wholesale and sell to fund their projects in Nicaragua. This is a first and indicates progress. Melissa asked them to make neutral colors for HFK sale. They interpreted neutral as black and white and there were a lots of these. I selected other colors to bring back, and to their credit they asked for specific colors for the next order.
The Women’s Center was being painted while we were there. The courtyard also has nice walkways and planters. It looks great. Sister Rose, a Canossian nun from Bethlehem, works one day every 2 weeks with the women to instill values and promote group cohesion while working on small business ideas. She offered to meet weekly, but the women requested less often. She has a clear vision and a gentle approach. Her personality reminds me of the pharmacy student Joseph Nanseera (for those who know him).
Fred Bbaale taught a class about raising and selling chicks at the center last Saturday. Sister Rose came as well. With electricity, the eggs can be incubated. Father introduced the idea, but allowing the women to decide if they would like to proceed.
Maria and Mackline
Mackline turned 20 on January 16! Sadly, after failing the national exam her school days are likely at an end. Father will ask the teachers if there is a chance she can improve academically by repeating the 7th grade though everyone doubts this will be helpful. Father will speak with her about a tailoring apprenticeship followed by working full time overseeing the boarding students at the primary school. We think that she would really like this while remaining under the loving embrace of St. Bakhita and HFK.
Maria is getting married on January 27 at the Shrine of the Martyrs! Baby Paul and big Paul are well. She is pretty certain that she will get a promotion and travel as a consultant to surrounding countries (Kenya, Tanzania, etc) to teach others about the sickle cell program she helped develop with Children’s hospital. She was absolutely beaming and, as always, extremely grateful to all who helped her along the way.