In June a work crew traveled to Uganda to work at the home in Nkumba. The goal of this trip was to complete a dining hall and bathrooms for the home in Nkumba. The material for this project had been sent months earlier on the container (thanks again to those that donated material, funds, and shipping costs). The dining hall is an open structure like a park pavilion attached to the dormitory. On one end is a small office and room for the housemother to stay in. On the other end are 4 toilets facing the church and 4 showers facing the inside of the dining hall. Thanks to the 12 hour days by the work crew, endless hours donated by church members of Nkumba, and the older boys from the home, the building was complete in 6 days.
Because the container showed up at the end of our first week instead of the beginning we needed to find other things to keep busy. If we were to have showers we would need a water tower and a big tank. Mark found us a 20-foot tower at a local welding shop with a 5X5 platform on top. Some of the older boys started digging and soon we had a five-foot deep hole, it is amazing to see these kids work. While they dug, other boys mixed concrete by hand on the ground (this would be the last time, we had a small electric mixer donated that arrived on the container). The challenge now was to stand a five hundred pound pole straight up without a crane, 10 men and boys, three makeshift ropes, lots of yelling and pure pandemonium and the tower was standing.
A few days later we procured a 1500 liter (396 gal.) poly water tank. This may seem like a lot of water but for the next 3 weeks the city water was off and the orphanage had the only water available in the community. We now have running water in the showers and kitchen, we plan to add a 1500 liter rainwater catchments tank to flush toilets and do laundry. On Wednesday and Thursday it was finally time to install the fence that had been donated by school children in Illinois. The fence went well, with a combination of chain link and barbed wire it installed quickly. The chain link was installed along the churchyard has a nicer look and safer for parishioners and the children, the barbed wire encloses the banana orchard and cow-pen area where the little ones don’t go. A small section still needs to be completed after a land dispute with a squatter is resolved, we think the village elders have finally arbitrated a solution and the fence might be complete.
Thursday night the container arrived at Nkumba and a couple hours later was empty and swept clean. On Friday the work crew with the help of all the high school aged boys from the home and all the walls were constructed. Some concrete work had to be completed before we continued so the crew from the States took a couple days vacation and headed to Queen Elizabeth’s National Park for a photo safari. The team returned on Tuesday to complete the dining hall and to sort the enormous amount of donated clothes, shoes, supplies and gifts. The guys finished the walls, hung doors and windows, framed the roof and installed dryvit to the walls.
Meanwhile Val completed the monumental task of sorting through hundreds of boxes of supplies that were stored seemingly everywhere. By Friday night most of the work was complete and it was time to celebrate. The new tables and chairs were set up in the new dining hall. “Finding Nemo” was started in the DVD player and shown on the big donated TV, it was hysterical. The new kitchen was smoking and steaming and wonderful smells drifted through the doors and windows. 15 pounds of beef, 50 pounds of rice, bushels of fresh vegetables, and dozens of watermelon later, the local board, volunteers, children, and visiting team were all well fed.
The night ended with the distribution of the boxes of gifts for each of the children. Eventually the children were hustled off to bed with full stomachs and lots of complaints, “aw can’t we stay up a little longer we want to see the rest of the movie”. Saturday would be our last day in the country and it had come all too soon. Val ran a Bible School/sports day with the help of Richard Kayemba from WTC and several other LVCH kids attending Bethel secondary school. Kids just kept showing up from nowhere.
The boys relaxed much of the day Saturday spending a lot of time with the older boys at the orphanage, playing soccer, and swimming in Lake Victoria. I spent most of the day with the laborers from the church that would be finishing up the final details, reviewing maintenance schedules for the equipment we had brought with Mark and reviewing financial details for the completion of the work, I don’t delegate well.
Finally it was time to head for the airport, 5 of us, all of the luggage, Pastor John, Mark, and 4 others from the church board loaded into one Toyota pickup. Pastor John decided to take the scenic route through the bush, I think we broke some springs I know I bruised my tailbone. After a tearful goodbye we were starting our 20-hour journey back to the west and hot showers.