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Archive for July, 2008

Olyotya!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Hello, hello. I am starting to pick up some phrases in Luganda, the local language. Olyotya, pronounced o-lee-o-tee-uh (really fast) means how are you? I am feeling more and more like a part of the community every day. I walk the same road from my hostel to the school and every morning I am met with a flurry of handshakes, greetings and smiles. I do not think I have ever met people as friendly as Ugandans. I feel like we are old friends.

The school itself is coming along wonderfully. Construction is nearly complete and the crew is starting to level the property and by next week we should start painting. Most of the fencing is finished and the site is really starting to come together.

School Construction

School Construction

I work every day (usually until early afternoon) and spend the rest of the day running errands with Philip or enjoying Kampala. Philip and Tracy and I did sneak away for a movie the other night which was a fantastic time. It was just like going to the movies in Canada. I am getting to know the workers a little better every day and have even begun developing friendships with some of them. We have exchanged contact information and hope to stay in touch. I wish I could bring them all back to Canada with me. I believe they could really thrive. Unfortunately, the world is just not that simple. I have gotten to know one of them in particular that I have found I have a lot in common with him. Vincent is 23 (one year younger than me) and we have talked about everything including politics, marriage, religion, work and education. He was shocked to hear that while I had the opportunity I never went to college or university. Vincent would love to go but simply cannot afford it and insists that if I have the chance I should take it. I have to admit, he seriously has me thinking about it.

Shaun and Vincent

From Kampala, Shaun.

Reliving Uganda

Saturday, July 26th, 2008

Yesterday was an eventful day, in the morning I worked with Ssozi on building a wall for the school. I learned how to mix the cement, plumb a straight line and lay bricks. All the while Ssozi and I talked about life – I think his story is typical over here, he lost his mother at an early age and his father when he was in grade 6.

After his father died he was responsible for himself and started working as a builder, learning on the job. He is now 28 and has three young children which he supports. To save money on transport he sleeps on site and only goes home on Sunday. He likes working on Ssubi projects because we provide breakfast, lunch and dinner (usually food comes out of their pay) and they get paid on time. Seems like pretty reasonable perks from an employer to me.

Tracy and Ssozi building wall

In the afternoon, we went to the local zoo, where I used to work and I finally saw for the first time in Africa, a rhino. In Uganda rhinos were extirpated but there are now plans for reintroduction into the wild. I also saw the medicinal chimpanzee forest I planted 10 years ago, it is huge, I though they must have transplanted tree forgetting the growth rate is just so much fast here. Incredible I grew a forest in my life time from seeds.

Rhino

Over and out,

Tracy
(Director, Ssubi Foundation).

Gulu Update

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Two days ago, Phillip, Dusman and I went on a road trip to Gulu. The landscape was as beautiful as the road was bumpy. We passed through villages, baboons and crossed the Nile to arrive in Gulu after a five hour drive. We returned to the school that Ssubi built in the summer of 2007. It’s still standing tall and some of Ssubi’s workers were doing renovations on the roof when we arrived. Thanks again to Margot from Calgary for the solar panel lights which have been installed in both rooms of the building.

Solar Panels

It was a reunion for Phillip and Dusman with Madame Openy, the head mistress of the local school and an absolute pleasure for me to meet her. She’s a very special woman. She’s been a teacher for 32 years and is an educational force in the region.

Shaun and Madame Openy

I spent time with the children while Phillip and Dusman spoke with the workers and teachers. We ran some errands in town before making our way back to Kampala.

Shaun

Progress in Kampala

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

It’s my fifth day in Kampala and this is the first chance I’ve had to check in. I’ve already seen a lot of the city thanks to Dusman and Phillip. I’ve been to the parliament buildings, Mandela Sports Stadium and the University of Makerere just to name a few of the local sights. Dusman also worked on the Last King of Scotland and has shown me many of the films shooting locations. The school is coming along at a pace Uganda is not accustomed to. The efficeincy of the Ssubi Foundation and the ethic of the workers has the entire community joyfully surprised. Rick and Margot, two of our friends from Canada spent a few days on site and contributed to the construction.

Rick and Margot helping with construction

The foundations of the school’s three buildings are complete. The workers are currently cementing and finishing the walls (one of many tasks being completed simultaneously). This is where I’ve come in. The process is far different than in Canada. The cement is mixed on the ground with shovels. My job was to scoop it up with a small flat spade and whip it against the wall. Next we’d smooth it out and make sure it was the appropriate thickness before applying a couple more finer layers. It’s a hard process that took me a while to get the hang of. For the first half day I applied more cement to my face than the wall. But the workers are very kind and well humored. They’ve been patient and hospitable. They’re a joy to work with. They sing and dance and laugh all day, working in a very effective assembly line.

Hard at work

Yesterday we took some time to visit the children of Lily Orphanage at the temporary school. They’re smaller rooms and some of the kids are being taught outside but the outcome will be well worth it. They were elated to see us and we met each class from Primary 1 through 5. They were learning English and science and the choir was in session, greeting us with a song upon our arrival. They’re beautiful children and it was an amazing experience.

Lily Orphanage

That same afternoon we met with the Board of Directors from the church to decide a date for the Grand Opening Ceremony. They’re just as excited as we are and very, very grateful. Some of them took their first trip to the site and were amazed at the progress.

Board of Directors of the Church

I had more difficult labor on site this morning, first knocking down an old fence and then digging a trough for a new one. I had to take quite a few breaks, taking a moment to feed a banana leaf to some piglets in a pen on the property next to us. By lunch I was exhausted from the taxing work and we decided that it would be a good time to update the blog.

Thanks for checking in.

From Kampala… Shaun Crawford – Ssubi volunteer.

Ground Breaking Ceremony

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Groundbreaking Ceremony, Wednesday July 2nd

On July 2nd, Philip and Dusman broke ground in Kampala on the Ssubi Foundation’s second school, Lilly Kindergarten. The children attended the ceremony along with all the church representatives and school management, one of whom joined in on the action. Construction began as soon as the ceremony ended and the team has already reached the roofing level on the first building.