Monday, January 23, 2017

Our Journey to Palabek

Back tracking Jan 17, 2017 - Palabek - Kitgum Region

"Our journey continued to Palabek in Northern Uganda.  It was extremely hot and dusty.  Nevertheless we were greeted warmly by dancing of the ladies.  There were approximately 250 people which included women, children & men.
Carol & I were given the joy of teaching hand washing and tooth brushing to children and women. They were attentive and patient with us. Nadine also taught sanitation by way of the pig story. We used visual examples, coloring pages and demonstration.  We had a wonderful interpreter who was also a teacher.  We are unable to do our job without having our Uganda friends helping us, Denis and Bosco. Two wonderful young men we have watched grow up.
The children & women were very patient and attentive even though it was super hot----100 degrees with little shade.
Children looked healthy and happy.
We provided worm medication and a vitamin. We gave them a soccer ball and softball that put a huge smile on their faces and immediately erupted into a flurry of activity, was thrilling to watch.

We then had a feast for everyone of rice & beans & stewed chicken & goat.  We were provided with a local dish called posha. It is white maize made into a thick paste., like grits.
We were elated when we were provided with a hand washing station to wash hands before eating. The entire village participated, this has become a routine practice for them.
All and all we are happy with their progress and their continued eagerness for learning and implement what they learn."
God Bless, Carol & Angie

Brenda also taught paper bead rolling and making of bracelets in hopes we can begin an income generation project for the women.  They already have a farming group - called God's gift farming. And grew a good cotton field this season!  It is time to set up the drip irrigation 1/4 acre vegetable garden near the Laroibe borehole. Tom viewed all of this and assessed the wells we had drilled while all of this taking place. Yes, we have seeds for them too!  Terence and Nadine taught VHT's. In addition to the 9 from Palabek region and  surrounding villages we brought those from wipolo and awal to also be taught at the same time. In addition to the hygiene handwashing and sanitation the VHT's taught malaria prevention and careful use of the mosquito net Palabek has come far and we have been slowly introducing some of the start up pilot projects we began on the farm. It has been 4 years since our first visit. We thought it was time to introduce some craft projects. While Brenda was teaching, I  asked the women's group who were gathered if they were interested in sewing. There were many enthusiastic "Yes's". I then asked if anyone in their group could sew. Lo and behold - 2 women raised their hands. This was exactly the number of sewing machines we had brought!  Brenda and Ranae had some sewing ideas also. It took the technician all day to put together this treadle machine (had to make a part run for more screws also). Finally Brenda showed them some patterns. We didn't have enough time and Brenda would have liked to go back another day. Still, it is a start and brings great hope and encouragement to these women. The two will teach the others. They will build some bricks for a shelter for the machines. We are so grateful to all who help support these women, water and farming and village health projects.  It really makes a difference. Thanks again to Mariel who has taught Palabek VHT's and will be following up a few times a year. And of course Bosco Denis and Terence our valuable Community Development team on the ground!  Hallelujah! Music to my soul!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Heat. Sweat. Red Red Dirt.

Hi All!  Virtual team, family and friends

I am so sorry we are behind on posting specifics of our most northern Uganda visits and outreaches. We still have two very important and moving visits along with huge breakthroughs in development - saving the best for last!  Haha!  Due to network and long long days I am behind and the team is exhausted, unable to write or post themselves. So know that I will be coming back to Jan 16 and 17!   On Jan 18 I split from the team as they toured kidepo game park for Denis' graduation present, while I took those who came to Palabek for VHT training from our other remote village partners home...the way long road home, let me tell you!  I went back to Gulu to be sure the farming gods way conference we are co hosting in this region is set. Thanks to Denis and Bosco and Terence for some pre organization!  We all met up on the farm the eve of Jan 20 in anticipation and preparation for Denis graduation party from Makere University - sponsored son of Tom and Angie, Leigh and Matt.  (Which deserves a separate post entirely! We are so proud of him! Yes I found and bought two American made kind of cakes for the party and carried them from Gulu!) We are also celebrating Margaret certificate in tailoring sponsored by the Rieland's - so thankful Mariel can join us!  So sorry to find Brenda had become ill. She is such a trooper tho and powering thru it!  All know she is okay and on medication!!  Pray she gets well quickly and soon prior to that long long plane flight home. I would like to take this time to thank this veteran team for all of the love, service, sacrifice, advice, wisdom, grace, forgiveness and much much laughter and joy!  Thank you for praying and loving all of Gods children unconditionally!  For you all at home - this kind of mission trip is not for the faint of heart.  I, myself find it harder all the time - maybe it is age or menopause but the heat is almost unbearable this time of year.  This team rarely if ever complained!!   This is an excerpt I wrote my boyfriend - not to garner any type of sympathy as this is truly a gift and a treasured experience, an honor and a privelege to put it all into perspective!!  (I am sure he is not one bit impressed with my descriptions after asking if there were showers here - haha!). I read this to the team last night as we were packing reminiscing and preparing to sleep communally in a large round hut with grass thatched roof, in a less than single bed with simple mattress under a torn and worn mosquito net (that fell down on Brenda).

"Yeah, they have showers haha! I got stung by a bee in the outdoor shower remember!  The shower  now is actually a pretty good one. Feels so good to be In it - cold shower. But as soon as get out, the heat wave brings on the sweat. Then just step outside and the dust and wind and dirt roads just rain - red red dirt. Mix it with the sweat and become a sweltering dripping filthy mess! No way around it. Our tubs are full of it. suitcase full of it. hair is stuck with it. I pull dirt wads out of my nose and ears - haha!  Heels and toes are so cracked and rough and can't get the imbedded dirt out no matter how hard I scrub. Then daily more dirt gets in them. No I don't walk barefoot - flip flops. Lost my shoes from the start but then again too hot to wear shoes".

The team has endured a lot, yet they are veterans and also knew what they were getting into. Except Carol who forgot they don't serve American food here - haha!  We all cried and talked with our loved ones for the last night together. Bittersweet as our MOU with our beloved Emmanuel Clinic comes to and end and we give wings on eagles and angels to fly on their own.

All team members  say they will be back. I am forever grateful!  I miss you peops, my special special friends!  I love you!

- Till we meet again, as I embark outside the gate on the public transportation and foot journey the next development and training  venture - "Farming God's Way"

- Nadine

We are good now - We have hope!

"Now We Have Hope".

"Yesterday (Jan 15) we visited the little village of Awal in northern Uganda,  home of Bosco Lundman's biological relatives/family. It was a very hot and dry afternoon but the people welcomed us with shouts and chants. This is an extremely remote and poor area, but we saw some improvements.  The village itself feels it too as they named their newly formed farming group, "Now we have hope". (We are good now). A big part of their hope comes from the new borehole H2O installed last year. It serves hundreds of people from a radius of 4 km. It was fenced and producing adequate clean water. Donors please know that your contribution has saved and improved lives here.  Appoyo matek!  Thank you very much!"
- from Tom Osborne.

This is the very first time we were greeted in this village with smiles, singing and dancing - a sign of renewed hope and joy since their commmunity group was formed. They are in the process of making the poles for the chain link fence for 1/4 acre of land that will be there vegetable drip irrigation garden. The chain link fence donated by a partner organization for the previous infant orphan care center. They also have farmed cotton successfully last season however their sorghum succumbed to the drought. Tom made an elective decision which the pleas of the team that had not visited in quite some time or ever who were moved to tears by the poverty and very thin children as people they encountered. (To me and the Ugandans who see this village regularly we actually see big steps of improvement! - still quite a stark contrast to other villages however). So at the request of the team after asking the village what they needed (there will be two more months of severe drought and heat to survive through!) we bought them sacks of maize and beans to try and help get them a little farther along. Also, At request of Awal elders they would like 2 VHT (village health workers) trained so we decided to bring them to palabek for our village VHT training with the team. Also 2 representatives of their community farming group will be attending the farming Gods Way conference we are co hosting in Gulu Jan 23- 25. Brenda also brought some clothes and shoes donated by friends from Billings and she blessed these children, babies with them. She and Carol also had a few tops for women.  Since there was not enough for all kids I donated some money so clothes for all kids would be purchased by the VHT's - their first big job for the village work they will be doing - as volunteers mind you!  Frances is so bright and smart I am also personally placing him in secondary school. He speaks great English even as taught from the local school which is a surprise. It is an honor to sponsor any promising young person from these remote war torn villages as they are the future of progress and a way out of poverty for their villages and role models!!  The VHT's were equipped with wound care supplies, ORS and more after the training. Mosquito nets. All de wormed and vitamins given.  The water board was the most active for the well we drilled of all villages we visited and drilled wells for so far. They are raising money for its upkeep, have a protective fence. We gave some clean water Jerry cans to reduce the contamination potential and help with the drip irrigation.  They would like a start up for a crop that has a shorter growing season since the climate and weather is changing and they lost the sorghum in this drought whose growing season is 8 months.  We thank God for our great country and friends in America that has allowed us the prosperity and freedom to share in resources, training and love with the world!!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Rosa Mystica Rest Home Grain Grinder Income Generating Project

Gulu Region;  Rosa Mystica Rest Home Grain Grinder income generating project is finally up and running, however not up to par.  There is sediment in the grain. The service person is charging these poor elderly sisters way too much! Although they have made some money it is a very slow start. Thanks to Terence, we have brought a trusted technician from Awere to help and he says the settings were all wrong!  He has to take it apart and re set it. At least we now know how to help them better. Sister Palma walks with a crutch and is there every day trying to eek out a living for them from this project!  We also buy wood burning African scenes to sell with our crafts for their income generation as well as hand made cards.  They are putting in a proposal for a chicken - eggs and broilers income generating project.  We think we have to start slow though - maybe with 50 rather than 150 and if they live grow it from there. The building they have for it has no ventilation and the chickens die so will have to be modified or new constructed. Lots to review with our board when we get home!  Three more groups in this area are requesting help at this time, yet we have some priorities up north. We have relayed that it could take years for us to have enough funding - patience or try looking for other funding sources as well. So hard as so much need!!
Bosco will help set up their quarter acre drip irrigation kit, fix some parts and plant the vegetable seeds brought by Brenda!  We actually bought cabbage, sumawiki, egg plant, tomatoe, onion, green pepper seeds for all areas for drip irrigation!  Fun to give these out. So dry they will need to wait to plant till end feb or march.

Opit Farm - African Boer Goat Breeding

Gulu Region: Hope 2 One Life (H2O) and Community Foundation for Development (CFD)

Opit Farm and Boer Goat Breeding Project.
- A partnership with the Little Sisters of Mary Immaculate of Gulu.  Sr Zhiporro is a trained agriculturist and is getting her masters degree with a lot of training in animal husbandry as well.  Her Masters project is on raising IMO pigs using bio degradable substances for the feces and food. The pigs are contained and do not roam free, do not smell and grow very well!  They are in the same compound with our goats. Fenced 10 acre area allows the goats to graze protected from the range, outside illness danger and theft. The goat breeding project is an income generating project to help sustain Emmanuel Clinic. Our 3 year MOU with Emmanuel clinic for staff support is up now - we will extend another quarter then turn it over to Family Empowerment Uganda. The goat project started with 20 female local goats and 2 male full bred Boer goats. We have 15 babies born - 13 female and 2 male. 2 others died and the other 3 are pregnant. The 13 females will be cross bred with the male boar goats and then their offspring will be the cross that will survive well in this harsh environment and also provide bigger meatier goats. The males will be castrated and sold. We are looking at some income generation potential in 8-10 months. The project is a bit over budget as the building of the fence and goat house etc with paying workers took a year to accomplish in this hard climate - all hand done. She also added another pig keeper so there are 3 tending goats cows and pigs. This has now become a Reginal center visited by many people interested in these projects. We hope to replicate the pig project as well and toured another facility that had even bigger structures and more pigs in Gulu.  This land was a complete overgrown bush and sat idle for many years in this war torn area. We started with drilling a borehole for water.  Sr is requesting an extension of the fence to the farm land on the other side of the borehole to extend farming and fodder feed without the local neighboring animals getting into it. She already has a super bucket drip irrigation kit and was trained in farming gods way. Others will be trained as well.  Each project relays their successes and challenges and struggles. We give feedback with team visits. Mentoring and financial accountability is managed through CFD.  We have high hope for this project. It is a partial gift of many people at home who donated during the adopt a goat for Emmanuel clinic sustainability campaign (approx $9000) and partial loan ($ 4,000 interest free) to teach budgets and business planning with sustainable income generation.  It is a joint venture 45/55 split.  We are so hopeful for this project. This well also has great solar power capabilities to further farming and drip irrigation similar to the farm. Tom's list is growing!  Thank you to all at home who donated for this project!  We will be looking for further funding. We are ESP grateful to our H20 board member John John Standish for his wise counsel and business plan oversight which helped this project get off the paper and on the ground in Opit!  We are grateful and praying for the success of this project, also unique in this area!

- note the contrast between the dusty dry windy blown dry season vs some photos from my visit in Sept. There will be two more months of dry season. Many Jerry cans of water need to be hauled each day for the animals from the well. Thank God for the well.  Pray for rain!

Awere Village. Side by Side Ludok Community Farming Group

Gulu Region: Hope 2 One Life (H2O) and Community Foundation for Development (CFD)

Awere Village Side by Side Ludok Community Farming group.
- this group has probably the most successful farming. They were able to pay a little out to each for Christmas, have some stored to sell when prices go up and have some saved for the next season. It is such a drought here in this dry season and will be for 2 more months. Terence had an idea for a drip irrigation system for vegetable farming from a water hole with a pump. We went across the road to see it after Tom assessed the well we fixed with new pipes and a new pump.  Tom excitedly cries, " This is a hydro geologist dream". There is water here!  See how these rock formations are sideways - this is rare. Water is between the cracks. An "artesian well" can be drilled and the water would spout free flowing up up up - could go into a tank without the expense of a solar or generator pump!"  This could become an amazing farm land!"  He even called Draco Drilling - yes it could be done!  I say let's do it!!  What a find. Now to figure out how to secure the funding to drill the well. Tom will be putting on his thinking cap for this unique opportunity!  Praying for this artesian well that will bless these people immensely!

Remarkable people in our midst of spreading "HOPE"

Appoyo Achua mebe (good morning) from Uganda virtual team and followers!!  I apologize for the delay in posting! We have very long tiring yet joyful days, once we move north from our successful pilot and larger infrastructure projects that have been implemented for years on the Family Empowerment - Canaan farm.  Please permit me to explain a little of how this experience goes as we head to Northern Uganda and work our way through numerous villages and towns staying 2 nights or so each place with a home base in a hotel. The services and quality of the accommodations get worse the farther north we go. The team is out all day for 12 or more hours to usually 2 villages or projects.  Bugs and geckos inhabit our rooms an even mosquito nets. Red dirt is imbedded in all of our skin which is now ravaged and cracked. Travel is remote and along dusty bumpy small paths of dirt roads. There is typically no internet or service in these areas. The router works in some areas and the hotel lobby may have wifi but we are often too tired to do much more than write or call home to our families that we are okay. We eat in the villages sometimes which consists of posha beans goat chicken rice cabbage and malawuan (g nut sauce if lucky). This time due to the drought and impending famine we feed whole villages. Also, It is hot hot hot here!  The age of the team is above 50 to 69 years. And they are troopers and amazing...flexibility, letting some of the tension fly right off your back and not taking things too personal is key!  We are family!  We survive each other in communal living and bumping shoulder to shoulder leaning on each other travel thru lots of laughter and silly sarcasm at times. Each person adds a special uniqueness and gifts of service to the poverty stricken people and villages...hearts of love. We don't always know how we are going to organize the outreaches and training until we get there, even with the best itinerary and schedule and groups that I may place in writing or planning ahead of time.  Always, we feel it out have a general plan with some materials and projects ideas with us, was to speak to the Ugandan project leader on the ground if a project is stalled or over budget for some reason, pray to God for guidance, lots of guidance and wisdom!  We ask the village elders and leaders of the water boards, community farming groups, village health workers and women's groups, deaf school, elderly rest home, farms we have trained, fund in income generating projects, water and farming such as drip irrigation projects, educational or health care training/support  what they think will help them best.  And then we wing it...letting the angels carry us along, hopefully giving hope and light in all we do.  Yes, I make it up as we go which often involves changes in prior plans or adding a "site visit" or assessment that may be out of our way, extending the day.  This requires incredible openness, willingness and patience since it extends the day...perseverance and faith...forward ho with a smile!! Almost always...Lo and behold the outcome, by the grace of God, is better and more fruitful than anything we could have ever imagined!  New ideas develop and renewed excitement and energy!  As you may recall from my solo trip in Sept...there was a restructuring and re organization of all of our projects under the local CBO/NGO Community Foundation for Development (CFD). This team is visiting the dream of Hope 2 One Life war recovery empowerment and sustainability models to multiple villages and areas in northern Uganda, the prior killing fields of the LRA war.  What an honor and a privilege it is to have this veteran team with me giving feedback and advice - sharing talents I couldn't even dream of!!  Tom Osborne, Hope 2 One Life board member, hydrologist "water specialist" and wife Angie, a nurse and lover of children; Brenda Gilmore nurse practitioner, VHT program starter and trainer, paper bead craft and tailoring projects starter and trainer for many years!!  Carol Stanley, nurse and our "Ja Ja" ...visionary of the Emmanuel clinic and dreamer, believer we can and should help make lives better no matter who how or what. Just do it!"  They are all massive prayer warriors!  This team and service, selflessness ...Humbles me immensely and I am forever grateful for their service, sacrifice and love love love!!  There are so so many friends who spend tireless energy at home volunteering and living from afar - H20 board members and project designers, financial accounters, planners, advisors - Ranae Parker, Steph Bond, Leigh Taggart, Bill Hart, Dulcy Niemella, assistant Diane Hart. Many volunteers, supporters and donors - event coordinators and committee members for our annual fundraisers - Spaghetti Dinner and Auction and World Water Day - Walk for Water. Thank you all! Each and every one of you has made a big difference!  Our gratitude runs deeply and will never be forgotten.  Keep also in mind none of this could be accomplished without our trusted and loyal ugandan partners and friends on the ground!  CFD founder and Ugandan director, Terence Acaye; Denis Odong, graduate from Makere University in Development studies; Bosco Tolit graduate from Mbarara University in Development studies and Mariel Rieland, our good friend, developer of the current VHT Manuel and trainer who now works with women's training and projects at the Akola Project in Jinja. This allows our work to continue throughout the year - we are forever grateful!!  Bosco and Denis have trained with Tom and all of our teams on water projects, bio sand water filters,  drip irrigation, farming, crafts, and have been our team escorts Year after year, since 2007. Tom, Angie, Leigh and Matt sponsored Denis thru his university studies. Our friends, The Jacques, also sponsored Bosco.  As relayed by Tom Osborne, ". I'd like to introduce followers of our Uganda mission trip to these two remarkable young men, O'dong Denis and Bosco Tolit. Both are recent graduates of Makerere University and now work for Ugandan NGOs we support (Incl our partner org CFD). They are among the first of their families and clans to attend and graduate with college degrees. They chose to return to their homeland of northern Uganda and apply their new skills and energies to improving the lives of  people still struggling to recover from the infamous LRA war. They are implementing a wide array of projects including safe drinking water,  women's micro businesses,  rural health outreach,  crafts, tailoring and more. With them on the ground progress is now being made year-round.  We salute them and we love them."
Terence was the founder of the Kitgum infant orphan care center, our partner and friend since we met in 2006. Mariel interned with me and Hope 2 One Life while at SPU, we have travelled many times together in uganda. She volunteers her time in between her work with akola project to train VHT's. this also keeps things moving between our trips! So grateful!  Her parents are also special friends and supporters of Hope 2 One Life. Through all of this and years of faith, not really knowing how it will all work or turn out - following God's call and will, with great humility I pray - years of perseverance by all, a foundation of trust and loyalty has been formed through the love of God, while sharing the love. Music to my soul as unity abounds. Glory be to God!  May this set the stage for the posts to come...which we feel is a major breakthrough in the potential for this post war recovery community development. This is also accomplished with a very small working budget of approx $50,000 or less in donations, fundraising and grants and an all volunteer organization.  Just think what we could do with even more...oh to find a large grant would be fabulous, God willing development is not easy, takes a long time and hardly ever funded (which is likely why most NGOs don't do it). Still I believe it is the only way out of the extreme poverty we have encountered. Even with this veteran team...they were brought to tears by witnessing the extremes of poverty in villages we visited...(which to me and the ugandans who visit often are so much better than prior visits!).  I we will carry on...come along my friends as we share this journey of faith and love....and Hope 2 One Life...that ripples to many many more....