Sunday, December 21, 2008

Our new home :)

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

As I looked out the door this evening, past the lumber on the front lawn and through the itch of the horde of mosquitoes having an early dinner, I realized how beautiful it is here in Kibaale. Of course, feelings of sentiment come rather easily when you are still massaging down the gut-lump from a Christmas dinner with all those closest to you, and the billionth iteration of 'Joy to the World' is crackling out of tinny laptop speakers from the window to your side.

Jamie and I are quite happy in our new place and have spent the weekend finishing the move-in. Hopefully you can get an idea of what a little paint and a lot of elbow-grease can do here.

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

Jamie peeling some of the old wallpaper off the top of the kitchen walls

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

The view from outside into the kitchen. The house was quite dark in its previous form...

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

This pic is taken with Jamie behind me, looking to the right down the hall into the bedroom. Some new paint has started to go onto the wall

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

The bathroom. Note the sink in the shower

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

The old bedroom. The wall to the left here has since been taken out to open the main room up

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

This is the room immediately behind the last picture; what was the main room

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

Main room, opposite side, taken from the front door. Far side through the hole is the kitchen

So, definitely liveable. The previous tenant had it just fine in here, but the two of us wanted to update it a bit and give it a thorough clean. The house was the original 'Muzungu residence' that was built so it definitely needed an update and some repairs. Here's how it stands now.

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

The kitchen, repainted and with the window opened up a bit more to let more light through

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

From the kitchen looking down the hall into the bedrooom

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

Bathroom again... yeah, the sink is still in the shower :)

From The Davii - Ug Fotos

And this is from the far corner of what used to be the bedroom. Much better

Hope you enjoyed the tour :)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just checking in

Well, we're still alive. Our new house is complete - we've had a wall knocked out, an opening opened, new paint everywhere (which kinda came off a bit in some places, so time for coat # 3), and they've just finished installing TILE throughout! Tile in Africa! It's great. Over the weekend we moved all of our stuff in from the guest house where we were previously staying and it is now all here. It currently looks a lot like you would think a house looks like when it is first moved in to. We're a bit pressed for space right now, but we'll be having some storage made up at the vocational school (woodshop) for us which should help out.

We're just thankful to have our own place and so thankful for everyone back home who has helped make our trip here and the work we're able to do possible. What a privilege!

We'll get some photos up pronto once we can get them off of the camera. And we hope to be doing more frequent updates here as well now that we have internet access right in the house. Previously we were forced to go and sit outside which was sometimes not possible with rain, or mosquitoes, or mango-throwing monkeys around. Should be better now!

Thanks for sticking with us. Only 1 week till christmas!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Perusal Material

Check out the new Kibaale Community Centre blog

KCC Blog

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nursery Application Interviews

The office was so busy today as it was Nursery application day! Here in Uganda, school runs in three terms starting at the beginning of the year. As this year is coming to an end, the now Nursery kids will be moving to Kindergarten and we have openings for 50 new Nursery students!

Last week, hundreds of hopeful applicants applied at the School Administration level and the list was narrowed down to approximately 130 students. These applicants were given slips of paper and asked to come to the KCF (Kibaale Children’s Fund) for further interviewing. And, that was today – it was a full house. We had four staff members conducting the interviews (I was unable to help with this as my Luganda isn't so good).

Within the next couple of weeks, two of the KCF staff (Cephas and Mugabi) will be making home visits to all of the applicants and eventually this list will be narrowed down to the 50 final students.

Interviews started at 8:30am to 3pm

These kids are just too cute!

People were lined up out the door.

Cephas and Justine are interviewing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A weeks of Gifts Baskets and Famine Relief

A great thing about my job is handing out special gifts. These are donated by sponsors and people just like you and it’s either designated to a specific sponsor child or to a child who needs it the most. Gifts come in all shapes and forms – from goats, to cows, to houses, to kitchens, to shoes and clothing to gift baskets and much more. This last week, our office bought the supplies and complied 29 gift baskets to give away on Friday. Wow, what an amazing time! Check out the photos below and you can see for yourselves!

A gift basket is such a great gift - it is filled with essentials like rice, soap, matches, paraffin, and much more!

Here is 9 of the 29 we gave away

Some of the kids coming to pick up their gifts - they have so much personality!

Fun times with Sean and the kids on the computer.

All the kids are so happy with the gifts, they just put the basekts on their heads and away they go!

Kids all the way from Nursury to Senior 4 (Grade 11) came to the office to recieve gifts

This last week Sean and his Community Services Department partnered with the local counsellor and government to help with the famine. It’s kind of funny, because with a famine you always think of water shortage. But this situation had come about when hundreds of people’s crops were destroyed by a hailstorm leaving them with no source of food. The Community Services Department worked with the local government to assess the neediest of the needy and those selected were able to come for some food assistance. It’s only been through the generous donations of the people back home in Canada that we were able to provide this relief, and the experience is something that is hard to explain in words. Truly rewarding work. Check out the photos below to see.

The 'Tipper' (dumptruck) the center owns, loaded up with Maize flour. 39 bags at 50kg each.

One group of women waiting to be called to receive their portions

This is the list of the needy families prepared by the counsellor for the sub-county. You can see names, gender of the person picking it up, and number of children as well as a place for each person to sign (or, as was the case with about 1/3rd of the people there, a thumbprint for verification if they could not write)

One of the older women we helped

Happy to receive some assistance. Every face has a story

The early crowd which ballooned later in the day to three times the size seen. The process is time consuming

A child carrying his portion home for his family, with mom at his side

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thanks guys

Appreciating the freedom, even in Africa....

Sunday, November 9, 2008

99.726% there...

364 days ago Jamie and I were married. Tomorrow is our one-year anniversary! Rather than go away this weekend, we stayed home and painted our new house, knocked some things out, and started to get it ready to move in to. We're pumped. Next weekend we'll be heading away into Kampala to do some business, then go to a resort and do a safari. We're pretty excited about that - elephants never get old, and it's been a year since we saw them last. How many people can say that?

Just wanted to do a very quick update to say that we're still alive. We'll be busy this week working and getting the new place ready. We'll try and get some pictures up soon, but right now I've got to duck inside and get away from all these mosquitoes.

Oh yeah, and this morning I killed a bat.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

African Helmets

(this post by a Sean with too much time on a weekend and not enough outlet for sarcasm)

Today we received two brand new motorbikes for the centre. Similar to the volkswagen bug, these things have been in continuous production unchanged since 1978. Ours is Uganda specification, so they're road legal, have luggage racks on the back, and come in white (to better accept the brown of the roads around here I suppose). They're awesome bikes though and incredibly dependable.

More on the bikes later. This post is for the helmets. Bikes in Uganda come with helmets. Which I should have understood as you get a FREE helmet. Or, you get a free helmet. I'm trying to say that free is not necessarily good. That probably didn't come across, but its hard to type a voice laced with sarcasm and loathing.


The free helmet (1 of 2). Looks alright. Decent graphics. Who knows what A.H.T. stands for but you can get creative with that.

Hmm. This must have slipped past the QA.

This too. Possible signs of Elmer's white glue on further inspection.

I couldn't remember what this was from the picture so I picked it up while typing and it just ripped out. Must not be important then.

Time for a stress test....

... two fingers and it passes brilliantly...

... searching for signs of rigidity...

... none found. It is quite possible this is a deflated and hollowed out basketball shell that has been painted to look like a helmet.

Fits perfect too!

Mom - send helmet.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Day 6... err, 32

We’re back. Sorry for the delay.

We’ve integrated ourselves pretty well here, we think, and are feeling right at home. There was a propane shortage awhile back which just ended, which means we can have warm water again without boiling it on the stove. A propane shortage here is kind of a big deal given that our stove and fridge and freezer run on propane tanks. There are also these pre-heater boxes we have set up that heat water from the rain-tanks as it flows through, essentially giving us a hot-water tap. This is the first thing we shut off if we get low on propane, with all reserves being donated to the fridge and stove. Our fridge is a bit old and guzzles fuel, so we’re looking forward to getting rid of this one and moving on to our new place, eventually. Yes, in case you didn’t already know, we are currently staying in a guest house and will have our own place to call home in a few months. More on that when it happens.

Jamie is settling in so fast to her role in Kibaale Children’s Fund (KCF). The girl who currently runs it, Laura, is to be married soon and Jamie is stepping up to the plate. Laura has been amazing in teaching Jamie how the office runs here in Uganda and what needs to be done, and what kind of challenges she will face in the future. We’re both very appreciative of her help in this time of transition. One of the best parts of Jamie’s day is when the primary kids come to visit on breaks and after school. A good portion of them make it a habit to drop in and greet `Auntie Jamie` - she loves it!

(I’ve just enabled the French language option on the keyboard somehow… no idea how to turn it off… all question marks will now be capital Es with little accents overtop… É)

Sean is settling in as well and tackling the mountain sized pile of tasks he has ahead of him. Sean heard something about eating an elephant one bite at a time, but Sean has realized he really doesn’t like Elephants too much… they taste weird and have a tendency to bite back, or at least slug you in the head with their trunk. Sean prefers eating smaller, trunkless animals. Preferably on sticks. That said, I (Sean) have been getting my hands dirty all over Uganda, making contacts and friends from Kibaale to Rakai to Masaka to Kampala (ok, admittedly, they’re all on the same stretch of highway) and learning the ins and outs of water and sanitation in a place such as this. Just the other day I was able to meet, again, with the local water counsellor and convey, through vigorous hand gestures, the need for the overhaul of the in-town pump. We made a compromise and we now have a working hand pump in the town nearest Kibaale Community Centre. Which is excellent! There have been hard moments, but it’s all part of the work here and all part of becoming a part of the culture one way or another.

It can be daunting to walk into a village where no one speaks English and try to get information, and just being a Mzungu (meaning: traveller, or white person, except not derogatory) brings its own sets of expectations that you try and live up to. But, the challenges also bring the greatest rewards, and sometimes you can find yourself being inspired by what is happening all around you if you are just able to step back. It’s a matter of perspective… rather than having the difficult task of walking into a local village where no one speaks English, I have the privilege to be here and make a difference, and once the language barrier is surpassed the relationships (almost friendships, for these are incredibly genuine people and there really isn’t any smile given if not meant) are so rewarding you can’t wait to go back and fumble with your arms and hand signals again. Of course, having a translator, or someone who speaks English makes the job a bit more effective… either way, we love it here, and the work is coming along.

To be fair, English is widely spoken in Uganda. It is the official language after all. Those who don’t speak English speak their tribe’s language. And there are 56 tribes in Uganda. Yes, 56 languages. And English. Our area is composed mainly of the Buganda tribe, and the language is Luganda, but we don’t have too much difficulty finding someone who speaks English except in really remote areas.

Today we also were able to go back to Mpigi where we were last year for three weeks. It shocked me to find that everyone remembered us – even the kids! Not five minutes into the service we were being escorted up front and there we were sharing in front of the entire church, ears still ringing from the bedlam of worship in Africa. It’s something that has to be experienced. After church we took to the soccer pitch and had a match with the kids of the Mpigi Children’s Home. So great to see all the familiar faces, all a year older, and we can’t quite explain how great it is to be recognized by a five-year old one year later, with a big smile and a hug, like you were never gone. Our three week visit last year made a difference in these kids` lives… how much more can we do in two years here in Kibaale É (question mark). If you’ve never done Africa before, or short term missions, you need to do it. 

Now for some pictures for the skimmers out there who didn’t read any of the above.

A home visit Jamie went on. This is at the very top of the hill we hiked earlier. Nice view.

Coca Cola makes this pop called Krest Bitter Lemon here. Most amazing drink ever. Unless you open the bottle and find a used Vodka wrapper inside your drink.

Biyinda, one of our gatekeepers, showing us the house he has started constructing with money loaned to him through our Staff Loans Program. We loan staff funds for projects or housing, etc. with zero or very little interest, with the deductions coming off the paycheck. The results can be amazing. Biyinda's pretty happy!

Jamie on another home visit. This is the end result of a donation from Canada. The girl on the left in blue is sponsored to go to our school. Her sponsor also donated money for them to build a new house. And that's the house.

Cows. Some get angry if you get too close.

Sean had to go into Kampala to meet with a bunch of Water Projects contacts. We checked out the Munyonyno Commonwealth Resort while we were in the city.

Jamie at the side of "the only Olympic sized swimming pool in Uganda!"...

That night there was a jazz fest. Jazz Fest in Uganda, first time ever ... pretty awesome.

Today at Mpigi - Jamie beating up little kids.

Mpigi twins Kato and Wasswa. Kato means "first", Wasswa "second." All twins in Uganda go by this.