|Sam visiting with this local woman of Bitongo village who walked over four hours to find water|
|Students with new books from Pierz Elementary|
|These students love their new books and their 35,000 liters of water|
|Ladies carrying sand for their tank|
|The beginning of the next tank~10,000 liters|
|The base coming along|
Great news for the people of Resilient Uganda, for the second year in a row, Resilient Uganda has been awarded the One World Grant from the generous Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota.
“Responding to the needs of the poor and marginalized is deeply rooted in our Franciscan charism. Your vision and commitment certainly mirrors our concept of global mission. We are honored to share in your ministry with this grant and with our ongoing prayers. Blessings to you as you continue your important work.”
I’m honored to have their blessings and their support and look forward to following their selfless and generous ways!
I’m writing you from Kampala, the big, noisy, hot, congested and dusty capital of Uganda. Spending a few days here visiting friends, searching for hotels and craft shops to sell our bags and most importantly enjoying the swimming pool and the hot showers!
I arrived on Thursday night after an 11 hour journey, with the bus overheating twice, the driver stopping to buy tomatoes, bananas, onions and any other shopping he wanted to do along the way and then finally crawling our way through the “jams” of traffic in the city for almost two hours to get to the bus station. I am curious what some regular maintenance to the bus might do to improve these journeys however I never let my mind wander to what kind of maintenance the brakes or tires have seen in their lifetime. I’m grateful to be here and can’t allow myself to think about the trip back!
The afternoon before I left for Kampala we had a tank dedication; the tank agreement was signed and we handed over the 20,000 liter tank to the village of Bitonga. The dancing, clapping, laughing and praising that took place that afternoon was beyond appreciation. I recognize that I may criticize and express difficulty understanding the way Ugandans work, reason and function. It is often a struggle for me to accept and comprehend such a different culture, but I apologize if I have ever made you believe that they are not exceptionally grateful for our assistance. I felt guilty taking all the credit for so many of you and your generosity and support. Please be assured our efforts are not wasted and are greatly appreciated; it’s moments like these that I wish I could share with you, so that you too could feel the impact we’re making; the joy in their faces, the gratitude in their dancing and the sheer delight of life. It (almost!) erased all doubt and frustrations of the past two months.
We gathered around the tank and the people of the village trickled in, they sat for nearly two hours in the blazing sun to hear what the conditions of the tank were and to celebrate its existence. The deal is simple; the village chairman has the keys, the tank will be open from 9-11 a.m. for fetching water (they decided on the time), the water is free, and they will all contribute as community members toward repairs or maintenance when necessary. These conditions took some time to discuss and agree upon. Eventually I asked if I could stand and say something, I explained who Resilient Uganda is, how we raised the money for this tank and then the details of our significant message, “A small family = Better Life”. I explained that their children and grandchildren will suffer significantly if the population of Uganda actually doubles to 70,000,000 in the next twenty years. I even described “the calendar method” for family planning. They were extremely receptive (or at least that’s my view!) and one woman even stood up and thanked me for bringing this important message to them. The majority are either against birth control or just don’t like the side effects, so this natural way seemed more acceptable.
It was an excellent day, even with the drunkard, (there’s at least one in every village!) who kept interrupting and shouting out questions or dancing whenever he felt so moved, he kept insisting the owner of the house was the only one who would reap the benefits of this tank. Of course Steven was kind enough to let us put the tank at his home, since he was the only one in the village who is building a “permanent” house, the rest are made of mud and won’t last as long as his brick house will, nor do they have as big of a roof for gathering the water. This has been part of our agreement from the beginning, that he would allow his fellow villagers into his compound to fetch the water. He eventually plans to put up a wall around his compound, which is the norm here, and we positioned the tap, our message and logo so that it will remain outside of the security wall when it’s built.
If you remember the photos I sent a few weeks back when we first visited this area, there was a photo of an old woman who had walked over four hours to find water. She was probably the biggest reason we chose this specific village to be the recipient of this tank. When she arrived at the dedication, she sat across the compound from me and kept waving to me, like a shy little girl. When I finally went to greet her she made a motion like she was zipping her lips and then covering her ears. I couldn’t figure out what she was trying to tell me so I called Didas over to help translate; “She does not hear your language, she does not speak your language, only that she has seen the goodness of the world through your help.” I can’t tell you exactly what she meant, but to me, at that moment, it meant I was in the place where I was meant to be and that we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing; helping those in need.
So far in 2016 we’ve brought 55,000 liters of water to the Resilient people of Uganda, that’s already 15,000 more liters than our initial plan of 40,000 (four 10,000 liter tanks)! But we’re not done yet, on Monday the village builder, Kazungu (who wasn’t so business savvy, but did excellent work on the 20,000 liter tank) started building our final tank this year. 10,000 more liters of water will soon be serving the people of Kisoro!
Thank you Franciscan Sisters, It is me who is humbled and inspired by your example and by your selfless dedication.
Love, blessings and countless Thanks to all,
"We can't do all the good that the world needs. But the world needs all the good that we can do."
P.O. Box 7
Kisoro Uganda AFRICA
|Strong woman carrying stones|
|Hanging with the women of Bitongo Village|
|The tank dedication|
|Sam addressing the community of Bitongo|
|Sweet, big sister|
|Dancing, giving thanks for the tank and stirring up the dust!|
|20,000 liter tank for the village of Bitongo!|