Monday, September 28, 2009
The Death of a child in Uganda...
A phone call at 2:00 A.M brought stark African reality..."My beautiful, healthy daughter is dead..." We will never forget the pain and anguish in our friend Ssimbwa’s voice. His 11 year old daughter, “Teddy” had been in the hospital for three days being treated for an asthma attack. That day she had been improving; only being put on the nebulizer every six hours...now she was gone. It was a great sorrow, not managed by a few words or kind acts. What could we do?..."some few things...100 lbs of maize flour, beans, rice, sugar"- things to feed the gathering friends and family... visit the family...hug...shake hands... express sorrow and watch the surge of church members, family and friends swell ...everyone understanding (25% of African children die before the age of five). As we left, those who had gathered began to sing hymns and talk in hushed tones. They stayed all night with the family.
Ssimbwa called early and said..."Sister, will you bring some small wreath to put on my little girl’s grave?". When we arrived we had bottled water for about 500 people, and Eddie in the truck...he could speak to the two Grandmothers with us during the two hour ride to the village.
Rains have come to Uganda...it is so green and gardens are growing at an incredible rate...The drive to his village was one of the most beautiful areas in Uganda. In the family compound there were about 200 chairs set up under shade; not nearly enough for those who would to come. Teddy was taken into the house by her father and other family members. The simple wooden coffin was placed on the floor and surrounded by sitting mats. The women sat and cried and wailed their grief. Expressing sorrow here is done openly and without restraint.
Following the service the congregation moved, singing, to the small grave among the ancestors who went before her. Also there, were the graves of the family's two other children who preceded her.
...this is life and passing in Africa.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
There has been widespread civil unrest for the last two days in Kampala and the surrounding towns. Supporters of the Buganda Kingdom Kabaka (King) have been battling police and army troops in protest against the government. The trouble started over the Kabaka being denied access to a youth rally in the town of Kayunga, north of Kampala. As a result, frustration with the government has flowed into the streets of Kampala. We were going to the Branch in Mengo this morning but ran into an onslaught of people running in the other direction with their hands in the air and boda-bodas motioning for us to go the other way. There was a smoke cloud and tear gas in the street ahead so we returned home. All missionaries have been told to stay inside the last two days but it appeared this morning that the protests were over; obviously they aren't. So, we are back inside doing paperwork.
We are in no danger in our compound because the riots are in the center of the city where roads in and out of Kampala have been blocked by fires and demonstrators. We are hopeful that the situation resolves quickly as we just started our new natural spring protection project this week. It will provide clean water to 70,000 people. In addition, a shipment of our wheelchairs is at the Kenyan border waiting to come into Kampala where they will be flown by the UN from Entebbe to Sudan.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
This is an article from the September 2009 Ensign Magazine which we wrote about the missionaries helping us put together emergency kits with some of the supplies from the refugee camp project. We think it is definitely Pulitzer Prize winning material. Obviously, we did not put our names in the article due to our extreme humility... or else the editor took it out....I can't remember which. Because of cholera outbreaks in the camps at Nakivale and Kanungu, families with small children sometimes bypassed the camps and came to Kampala seeking help. The kits would provide them short term assistance until they could be relocated. It would also provide an emergency back-up supply for the Minister of State over Refugees.
We thought that putting these kits together would be an all day task. We obviously underestimated the Elder and Sister Missionaries. They had all the kits assembled and boxed in less than an hour and had a great time doing it.
We were really impressed by how they all worked together. We told them what needed to be done and just stood back and watched. They organized themselves into groups with different tasks and started.
There were a lot of good natured jokes about, "How many missionaries does it take to fill a bag of rice?"
By the time Art got back from the store, with ice cream and drinks to make floats, the project was finished. Just a coincidence, we are sure.
The kits contained cooking oil, a pot, 2 cups, a blanket, flour, rice, salt,sugar, soap and mosquito nets. The kit provided a week's supply of food for a family of four.
A few days after we assembled the kits there was a new outbreak of cholera in Nakivale. This brought another influx of refugees to Kampala. Within two weeks all the kits had been given to needy families.
NEXT ON THE AGENDA....
We will be going back to Rwanda on September 18th for 6 days to distribute supplies in the Congolese refugee camps. There are more than 150,000 refugees in 3 camps and 2 receiving centers in Rwanda. The Church is sending 10 containers of supplies which we will coordinate with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The containers are now en route to Kigali from the port at Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.