Tuesday, December 30, 2008
One of the most rewarding responsibilities we have had in Uganda has been the delivery of wheelchairs. 750 wheelchairs were shipped from the LDS Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City for the disabled in Uganda. In a handover ceremony in October, 700 were given to a Ugandan National organization for countrywide distribution. We retained 50 to be given to local church members and other needy people we locate. This is not a country where the disabled receive government assistance or public access. You often see disabled people crawling on public streets. Their knees and legs are calloused and dusty and they often wear sandals on their hands. We are able sometimes to just meet someone on the street or in a public place and give them a chair. Getting a wheelchair under these conditions is truly a life changing experience.
We met an impressive young woman in Mukono, Uganda who started a boarding school for handicapped children. Agnes started out by doing volunteer work assisting the parents of handicapped children by cleaning and washing clothes for them. Over time she began taking in children whose parents could not care for them at home. She then started a school and now has 28 children there. We provided a number of wheelchairs to her residents and have plans to assist her with constructing paved pathways on the school grounds so that they can move between buildings more easily.
Some of the people we have just met through members of the church who are aware of someone near them who needs help. Susan, who works in the mission office, told us about this young man who has been unable to go outside the small house where he is cared for as he has grown too big to carry. Teenagers around him now enjoy rolling him outside in his new chair.
Olivia, from the LDS Branch we attend in Mengo, made us aware of a young mother who lived nearby with handicapped 10 year old twins. The little girl just recently died but we were able to provide a wheelchair for the little boy. Olivia is on the left below with the boy and his mother.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
In the United States we take clean drinkable water for granted. All we have to do is turn on the tap and fill up our glass. Only 62 percent of the 30 million Ugandans have access to safe water and 60% have access to adequate sanitation; the lowest rates in the world. Only 8% have electricity. The facts are startling: approximately 300 million Africans are without access to safe drinking water and 313 million are without appropriate access to sanitation. The water in our clean, modern apartment is only safe to drink if run through a filtration system. It can be used for bathing only if bleach is added. Most Ugandans have to haul water from a source some distance from their house.
These springs can be cleaned and a protective structure built so that they can function without the repair and maintenance required with a borehole. We are requesting approval of a project in the villages of the Nakaseke District to build protective structures at 30 springs which will provide clean water to 7200 people.
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
On Wednesday, November 10th we were contacted by Uganda's Minister of State for Relief & Disaster Preparedness & Refugees requesting the Church's help with the refugees fleeing into Uganda from the war in the DR Congo. They are being sheltered in a camp in the Naki Valley near Mbarara, Uganda. As the rainy season is approaching, the nights here are in the 60's and there are many children and infants in the camp. We contacted the Area office in Johannesburgh, South Africa to see if we could avoid the delay and costs of shipping items from Salt Lake City by purchasing them locally. With the help of a local member, Ssimbwa Busulwa Kakinda, we have secured 1,920 blankets, 2,200 lbs. of powdered milk and 800 cooking pots. We rented a truck and and delivered the supplies to the camp Wednesday, November 17th.
For easier viewing, click on any picture to enlarge.
For easier viewing, click on any picture to enlarge.
We were accompanied by Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s Minister of State for Refugees. He is a good, kind man who says what he does is not a job but a calling which comes from the heart. When introducing us to speak to the refugees he said, “The purpose of humanitarian service is to reduce pain and deliver hope. The LDS Church works quietly, without need for publicity, to help the Ugandan people who are in need”; a great statement of our purpose here.
In the camp are many children who are there by themselves and are taken in by adults. There is an agency in the camp that then tries to find out if they still have family members alive. These two brothers are alone and stay in a tent near the U.N. workers until someone takes them in.
Many other agencies were in the camp doing their first assessment of needs. The Church was able to have the supplies in the camp within 6 days of the request from the Minister of State. This would not have been possible without the help of a local member, Ssimbwa Busulwa Kakinda, who assists us as a monitor on Humanitarian projects. He is an incredible resource and can locate almost anything. He is the chief of a local tribe in the Mpigi District.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
On Wednesday, November 10th we were contacted by Uganda's Minister of State for Relief & Disaster Preparedness & Refugees requesting the Church's help with the refugees fleeing into Uganda from the war in the DR Congo. They are being sheltered in a camp in the Naki Valley near Mbarara, Uganda. As the rainy season is approaching, the nights here are in the 60's and there are many children and infants in the camp. We contacted the Area office in Johannesburgh, South Africa to see if we could avoid the delay and costs of shipping items from Salt Lake City by purchasing them locally. With the help of a local member, Ssimbwa Busulwa Kakinda, we have secured 1800 blankets, 2200 lbs. of powdered milk and 800 cooking pots. We have rented a truck and will load tomorrow and deliver the supplies to the camp this Wednesday. The Minister and U.N. officials will fly by helicopter from Kampala and meet us there for the distribution. We will post pictures of the camp when we return.
There are an incredible number of orphans in Uganda resulting from both the rebel activity in the north and the effects of HIV/AIDS. They reside either in orphanages or with relatives or other kind people who have just taken them in. It is not unusual to see families caring for 8-10 children. The Ugandans are a very kind and tender-hearted people but providing for all of the needs of the children is sometimes beyond their reach. We are looking for ways to assist start up schools and community based organizations who are trying to address this problem.