Save the Dates --Upcoming Art Fairs!!

You will want to mark your calendars — ACT Uganda has several art fairs around Michigan in the coming months!

Buds to Blooms, Essexville: May 10, 10:00-5:00; May 11, 10:00-4:00

Red Dresser, Barn Market: Traverse City, May 24, 25

MCFTA Summer Art Fair, Midland: June 1, 2, 10:00-5:00

Riverside Art Fair, Bay City: June 8, 9

Emmerson Park: Midland, July 13, 10:00-5:00; July 14, 10:00-4:00

Uptown Bay City: September 14, 10:00-5:00; September 15, 10:00-4:00

Dickens Christmas 1st Congregational, Traverse City: November 2

Dow Diamond: Midland, December 6, 10:00-5:00; December 7, 10:00-4:00

Tuesday, February 26 - Our Last Day

Dear Friends,
This morning began with Dave, Sue, Sam, Friday (who is a board member for ACT) and the Board of Governors, as well as a music professor at National Teachers College. We were to interview two music candidates for the Music Teacher role at Muko High School. The first candidate showed up - Shipher (“shifter”) Akampurira. She was marvelous! Friday asked her to sing a song from a hymnal and she selected Joy to the World. She was very nervous, so I (Sue) went over to her and started singing with her. We had already agreed we were both sopranos. Partway through the song, I switched to the alto part to see if she could keep her own going and she did great! The second candidate (a man) never showed up. We were so excited about Shipher that we asked Sam to call her, just after she left, to offer her the position. She was very, very happy and is reporting to work tomorrow morning!

Sue, Lori, Eileen and Will went to meet the new Diocese of Kigezi’s Health Coordinator who replaced Philip Agaba. Philip is now the Hospital Administrator for Rugarama Hospital. Grace was delightful and was very eager to meet Judith, our new ACT HEAL Manager in the near future. We had a wonderful discussion that included information about physiotherapist-therapy for Pamella who is coming home tomorrow (we will unfortunately pass them on the highway) after getting a diagnosis of “no brain tumor” but stroke damage. We also talked about substance abuse and how to connect with the folks who run the AA meetings in Kabale hoping they will follow through on their outreach to start a group in Muko!

We left for Muko around noon and all scattered in the ACT Empowerment Center to take care of a variety of things on our last day. Sue checked in with the sewers who were busy finishing 19 mobiles and creating 25 of their first men’s ties! They are so gorgeous! I can’t wait to sell these! Eileen spent some good time talking with Maurice about her work. Sue and Will and Moses attempted a SKYPE meeting with the US HANDS team, but to no avail. We could not get network access. So, we spent a couple of hours doing the meeting on our own. 

Linda went up the high school to take the educational books that Dick Dolinski and other TEACH Team members donated. She shared a summary of the notes from our meeting with them exploring the Challenges and Ideas they face. She also included notes she taught on how to apply the parenting training in the classroom. Dave spent some time at the high school to take care of a few other things. 

Lori spent time making sure she completed the photo list that Sue had given her for taking pictures. One GREAT thing was, Eileen filmed Lori interviewing Osbert. It is priceless!

While Sue was in the HANDS team meeting and Dave was working on the school stuff, Linda, Lori and Eileen went with Christopher up the highway toward the Congo to see the baboons on the road and the bamboo forest. It was an extraordinary day for taking photos because we had no haze and a blue sky with big white fluffy clouds. It was about 75 degrees so we tried to soak the weather up before we hit bitter Michigan. 

To end the day, we took the staff to the “Campground” which is a resort nearby to have dinner. This has become a tradition. It was a wonderful evening on the shores of Lake Bunyonyi to thank our staff and say goodbye. Bitter sweet, every time! This is our last night at our hotel in Kabale. We are all packed. We will leave at 8 am tomorrow for our 8-10 hours drive straight to the airport. Our flight leaves at 11 pm. Twenty five hours later we will be home! I won’t be able to complete another blog because I won’t have Internet access.

Thank you for reading our blog, thinking of us, and praying for us. Overall, this was a VERY successful team and trip!

Looking Out at Muko from the Front of the ACT Empowerment Center

Looking Out at Muko from the Front of the ACT Empowerment Center

Final Staff Dinner at the “Campground”

Final Staff Dinner at the “Campground”

The ACT Staff with Will and Christopher, our Trusted Driver

The ACT Staff with Will and Christopher, our Trusted Driver

Sunday, Monday, February 24-25

Dear friends,
Apologies. Yesterday I played hooky from the blog! I was so tired last night. So, we’ll cover yesterday and today now.

Yesterday, (Sunday) we had 8am - 12pm free time. I (Sue) spent the time organizing photos to upload Dropbox and get organized to make sure I was getting everything done that I had planned to do. Dave spent time catching up on accounting for the trip. Linda, Lori and Eileen walked into Kabale Town to get some exercise and explore the town more. 

At noon, Isaac Ainembabazi, our third Maverick Leadership Scholar came to our hotel to meet us for lunch. What an incredible young man! We are planning to write up a story about him and his success and put it on our Facebook page and maybe send an E Blast as well. Isaac is getting his degree in Environmental Science at Kabale University. He will graduate in October 2020. By the way, our very first Maverick Leadership Scholar, Judith Tukahirwa, who just graduated with her certificate in nursing and midwifery, was just hired by ACT to be our new HEAL Manager! She is spending time in training with Thomas Akankwasa who has been our Acting HEAL Manager. How fun to hire one of our own Mavericks! More on Isaac with a longer article.

At 3pm yesterday, we met with the Old Boys and Old Girls Club (Muko High School Alumni Association). It was a very inspiring meeting. They were the ones who planned the whole training and Mission program at the high school when we first arrived. They are very energetic and supportive of their former high school and are eager to raise money and partner with us for the school.

This morning we met with Benson Agaba, our second Maverick who is finishing his degree in Kiswahili Education this coming October from Kabale University. Benson has been a leader his whole life and especially when he was a student at Muko High School. He wants to go on to earn another diploma in filmmaking, design, videography and photography. More about Benson when we do a longer email with their in depth stories.

We cannot meet with Ronah, our fourth Maverick Scholar who has just started this year in her nursing program near Mbarrara, Uganda which is several hours away from where we are. 

Dave and Sue met with the Bishop this morning about the high school. This was a very helpful meeting that left us with work to create new contracts for all the staff and Head Teacher. We left for Muko by 11:30am. Linda stayed behind and had a wonderful followup meeting with the President of the Kabale Rotary. Everyone else went to Muko. The sewers were there working on finishing the mobiles to bring back and are going to make some ties tomorrow for us to bring back to sell. They are beautiful! Dave worked more with Pressy, the new MHS Bursar. Lori went to MHS to inventory the violins, violas and cellos with Howard. Eileen began packing handcrafts into the suitcases for our journey home. They have to be notated on the inventory sheet that Beth Martin sent and the suitcase inventories that we will carried in case stopped at the US border. Sue, Generous, Judith, Thomas, Will, Eileen, Lori, Generous, Guma had a HEAL Team meeting. We learned lots from each other. We are suggesting to take off the month of March from doing village dialogues and do some important evaluation for the program - asking the villagers their thoughts about the program. From there we went up to the Ikamiro Clinic and talked with the Clinic committee from the church. We shared with them the Report form that Lynn Pottenger created and they promised to return the filled in report every March and October. The drive to Ikamiro was gorgeous - a bright sunny day with blue skies - somewhat unusual here. It is often hazy. When we arrived at the hotel for dinner, Rev Esau, the Board of ACT and Board of Governors for the school met us at 7:30 just as our dinner arrived to go over a few more items about the school management. He and the Bishop are such big supporters of this partnership. 

We walked to Cephas Inn last night which is close to our Hotel. They have a very nice dining room and we had a wonderful meal. Tonight we ate again at the Jopfan. Too tired to walk anywhere else! Maybe a quick game of Farkle before bed. 

Sue Waechter

Road to the Jopfa

Road to the Jopfa

Old Boys and Old Girls

Old Boys and Old Girls

Us With Isaac

Us With Isaac

Saturday, February 23 - Hokey Pokey!

Linda, Eileen and Lori went to Muko today to do the second day of Basic Mental Health Training from 2 pm to 6 pm. They had about 35 people in the training and some wonderful outcomes!  Some things people said: 
“I better understand mental health problems and ways to identify and help people that are dealing with them. “
“ When I hear people blaming, pointing fingers at troubled students, I realize they may need someone to listen to them….and I can be that person.”

The teachers and health promoters attending did a powerful job of being empathetic and compassionate to help break the stigma of mental health problems. A previous Muko High School student, Walter, returned to Muko High School after graduating to share with the group about when Toni Stanfield, from the ACT team in the U. S., spent time counseling him through a tough time after his father was murdered. This was to illustrate how helpful a careful listener can be to people who have emotional or mental issues. A delightful part of the training was doing the hokey pokey for the first time with glee and delight.  It is powerful to be part of the community to build physical and mental health.

Dave and Sue stayed in Kabale for the Board of Governor’s meeting. This turned out to be their first official meeting in which they were sworn in and formed their committees. There were lots of decisions made and policies approved. It will make Dave’s work easier to be able to interact with the official committees. 

Will spent time today on a very slow Internet to look up more information on coffee processing so we can investigate more about ACT doing this. 

Will, Dave, and Sue walked downtown Kabale to purchase some unusual items but it went very smoothly. We bought wire so that the MEP beaders can try to make small beautiful angel ornaments. We bought interfacing for the women to make ties! We bought a tie at a gift shop. It is beautiful. So, we handed the tie to MEP sewers and they took it apart and made one of their own in one hour. I can’t wait to sell these in the U.S.! We also bought a charcoal iron for the women to iron their sewing. This is the type of iron they are used to and we were concerned about an electric iron with our solar power system. 

We finished dinner and are playing a quick game of Farkle! Then to bed. Tomorrow (Sunday) we have the morning free to ourselves to rest and refresh. That is all for now.

Turabakunda mwene. (We love you all!)

Second Day of Basic Mental Health Training at Muko High School

Second Day of Basic Mental Health Training at Muko High School

Sue, Dave, and the Board of Governors

Sue, Dave, and the Board of Governors

Walter Shared His Story

Walter Shared His Story

Friday, February 22 - Fatigue is Setting In!

This point in the trip, the fatigue (even with 8 hours of sleep each night) sets in. Part of it is listening so intently all day to understand each other. So, we have to assume they are just as tired listening to us! 

Today we woke to pouring rain and very chilly temps - 55 degrees! I realize that this will be read by those of you with single digits. But, it is really cold with the rain and sandals! We arrived at the ACT Empowerment Center around 9:30 am. Sue had planned to meet with the Muko Empowerment Women all day: the basket weavers, the sewers and the beaders. It was, for the most part, very fun. Eileen and Lori helped Sue with the handcraft women. 

Lori worked with Osbert helping him with exercises for his syndrome. He received a new backpack and a watch! He was very proud.

Dave and Linda went to the High School to have a budgetary meeting with the Administration and Linda visited classes that received textbooks this trip and really enjoyed watching the interaction with the students. This was the first day the students and teachers used the textbooks! Linda said the teachers totally understand student-centered learning. 

Sue and Dave met with the orphans of MukoHOPE. We gave them greetings from Karen who wishes she could be here. 

Will spent time researching coffee processing and community development cooperatives for the HANDS program. 

We might try to stay awake long enough to play some FARKLE! 

Lori and Osbert

Lori and Osbert

Sue and Lori with Sewers

Sue and Lori with Sewers

Market Basket Made from Plastic Bags

Market Basket Made from Plastic Bags

Thursday, February 21

We started the day with an ACT staff meeting where we answered the question: What Difference Does ACT Make in Muko? The information shared with us by the Muko staff was very enlightening! Some of it we did not know. We, together, have accomplished a great deal. 

Secondly, we talked about the concept of NGOs, For Profit Businesses and a hybrid called, Social Businesses. We talked about how ACT MI might not be there as a partner forever and how could ACT be sustainable? We reviewed the visioning work that the ACT MI board had done last July at our board retreat. The ACT staff had some very creative ideas to add to the visioning. We are anxious to share this with the ACT MI board in March.

Following this, we had a meeting/presentation by Eileen on Substance Use Disorders. Attending were some of the ACT staff and the ACT Health Promotion Workers from our HEAL Program. Eileen focused mostly on alcohol and not drugs as this seems to be the most prominent issue in the Muko area. It was a wonderful presentation and very enlightening for those attending. It is our hope that these Heath Promotion Workers will go out to do dialogues in the various villages and share some of this information about the dangers of alcohol. We discovered an existing AA group that meets in Kabale Town on Thursday evenings. Eileen visited the leader of this meeting tonight and they talked about some outreach they might be able to do for us in Muko. This would be very helpful. Alcohol abuse is a very big problem and touches many families in Muko as well as the community at large. 

Dave met with several students who have been having disciplinary problems at the high school today. Last September, he and Karen had done the same thing and the kids they talked with had really straightened out. Hopefully, the students he met with today will follow suit. 

Linda went to the high school to meet with the two teachers for Biology and Religious studies who are participating in a pilot program to use text books that we purchased in Kampala. 

Dave continued to train Pressy, our new bursar, in Quick Books. She is doing well so far. 

Lori worked on range of motion with Osbert and continues to learn more about his condition - Klippel-Fiel Syndrome. He is such a sweet young man and so joyful ALL THE TIME!

Sue, Generous and Dave met with Rev. Esau who is the Board Chair of the ACT Board as well as the Board Chair of the Board of Governors for Muko High School. He is an amazing man and great leader. We are still dealing with some tough issues in our first year of managing the school. He is a great support as well as the Bishop.

Our team, Will, and Christopher our driver, fellow-shipped at the Overland Resort on the shore of Lake Bunyonyi. We had a pretty good dinner and lots of laughter. 

Sue, Will and ACT Staff after visioning session

Sue, Will and ACT Staff after visioning session

Dinner at Overland Resort on the shore of Lake Bunyonyi

Dinner at Overland Resort on the shore of Lake Bunyonyi

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

We had a great day visiting the children at the schools.  We started at Murole school where we were entertained, prayed for, and met our 78 sponsored children.  I was able to walk through and greet each of them checking on their health.  We identified three that we would like to get checked further.  Linda met her sponsored child Joseph, sorry no picture for the blog, it is on the big camera! He is so sweet and so shy.  The children danced for us as well.  We toured the school and were greeted by the baby school students.  I was in my glory.  They have asked for water tanks to help with their lack of water during the dry spell.  All 78 of the children followed us for the tour of the school! One picture is of Eileen showing the children a video of them singing and dancing.  One of me with the baby school students.  

Our next stop was the ACT office to drop off Dave and Pressy for more Quickbooks training.  The rest of us headed to Uganda Martyr’s school.  We were greeted by Sister Eunice and Father John. Sister Eunice toured us through her new computer lab and tailor room where we watched one of the mothers making sweaters on a large industrial weaver.  They showed us the dorms and the new kitchen.  We saw the water tanks that ACT provided and are putting to good use!  They were very thankful!  Then we were greeted in the new dining hall by all 484 students and 18 teachers.  Sister Eunice, Sister Naomi, and Sister Elizabeth were there also.  Sister Naomi and I shared a birthday today! All the students sang Happy Birthday to both of us and Sister Naomi insisted on dancing together for our birthdays.  The students provided songs, dances, a speech from one of our ACT children, and a speech from Sister Eunice.  We finished our visit with all the ACT sponsored children and again I greeted each of them to determine any medical needs.  These children looked great and no issues were noted.  The sisters invited us to lunch and fed us some very delicious food! We invited them to join us at the ACT office to have birthday cake! All three joined us!  

We finished up at the office, I enjoyed listening to Howard teach Herbert and Osbert a new song!  I took almost 150 pictures today with my big camera so look out drop box here comes the pictures soon!  We shopped for material for ourselves and ACT.  We bought 186 yards total!  Linda, Eileen, Sue, and I totally enjoyed ourselves!  Dave stood guard and gave his opinion as well (of course we didn’t always listen but he did pretty well)!  Dinner was enjoyed by all and a walk to and from the restaurant.  The full moon is beautiful here tonight!  

Keep praying for all the work to get done! Thank you for all that the ACT team does in the United States!  We are seeing how you affect lives here!!

Guest Blogger
Lori Marsh
1st time ACT Team member

Eileen Showing Children a Video of them Singing and Dancing

Eileen Showing Children a Video of them Singing and Dancing

Lori with the Baby Class at Murole

Lori with the Baby Class at Murole

Lori and Sr. Naomi Share a Birthday!

Lori and Sr. Naomi Share a Birthday!

Tuesday, February 19

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you…Dave shared his birthday with us today. We ordered him a cake and took it to the village and shared it with our training attendees. They all sang to him. 

Eileen delivered the Basic Mental Health training today from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. Attendees included some of the Muko High School teachers, the ACT Health Promotion Workers in our HEAL program, a teacher from Murole School and one from Muko Martyrs school and some of our ACT staff. This seemed to be new information to them, at least it provided words/names for concepts they already knew. Eileen did a fantastic job training is such a different culture - same with Linda this afternoon and evening.

Lori and Sue made 35 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and we had bought potato chips which they call “crisps” and they seemed to enjoy our American lunch. We then had Dave’s cake and sodas for dessert. 

We had a couple of hours break before Linda’s training for the Muko High School teaching staff that started at 4:30 pm and went until 8:00 pm this evening. I’m propping my eyelids open with toothpicks so I can finish this blog! Again, Will is still with us in Kabale. 

We ate dinner during the training this evening having posho, beans and cabbage for dinner - same dinner as the kids were eating. In fact, they have posho at every meal, every day. It is a kind of corn meal mush. They get the beans twice a day (kind of like pinto beans). 

Linda’s training was great! She based it on the concepts of the three-day Parenting Training given by Rev Gerald from Kampala. It was well received and the teachers enjoyed the training. Partway through the training we gave them the items we had purchased that they had asked for - art books, dictionaries from Mt. Pleasant Kiwanis Club, laminated global maps donated by Randi Kawakita, textbooks for the Religion and Biology classes, and 10 microscopes for the science lab. They were so excited to receive these resources. Some of the money was raised at our Trivia Night in Midland. As a reminder, our Traverse City Trivia Night is Tuesday, March 26th!

Dave also continued the Quick Books training most of the day with Guma, Prudance and the new Bursar, Pressy.

Teacher with Global Map

Teacher with Global Map

New Microscopes!

New Microscopes!

Receiving Textbooks

Receiving Textbooks

Monday, February 18

Day 5 and still rockin’. This was the fifth day of the Training team being here from Kampala. In the morning we had another church service with lots of music and dancing and speeches. It started at 9:15 am and went until 1:30 pm. Afterward, there were lots of photo opportunities outside and much gaiety and shaking hands. The Ugandans are so cordial and appreciative. During the service they raised still more money for the high school roof. ACT MI was presented with a glass sculpture thanking us for all we have contributed to the success of Muko High School. 

We walked down the hill to the school to have lunch. Following lunch was the soccer match (football) between the students and teachers of Muko High School and the Old Boys (Alumni) of Muko High School. Lori attended the match with Osbert and about 50 kids glued to her side, while the rest of our team stayed at the high school to prepare for the first day of Basic Mental Health training and training for the teachers for discovering what they need to improve their learning environments. 

We had a brief ceremony after lunch by the five new flag poles at the high school. They raised the flags and when they got to the American flag, they asked us to sing the national anthem. The other flags are: the East Africa, Uganda, Muko High School and I cannot at the moment remember the last one besides ours. It is 10:00 pm and time to turn in! Our bedtimes seem to get earlier and earlier per usual! Such gracious, loving and joyful people to be amidst!

Turabakunda mwene! (we love you all!)

Glass Sculpture Presentation

Glass Sculpture Presentation

Sunday, February 17

We started the day without a full compliment on our team. In fact, Eileen and Sue were the only ones to travel to Muko for the events today. Dave, Linda and Lori were down for the count from some intestinal stuff. Not unusual but not advisable to go into the village and not have a restroom close by. Will on the other hand ran a fever and more serious ills. He actually went to the hospital nearby and they gave him some medication diagnosing bacterial infection - fortunately not malaria. 

Sue and Eileen went into the first church service which was geared to the students at Muko High School. Rev Gerald, who had done the Parenting Training, delivered the sermon in which he talked about making decisions to fulfill their hopes. 

Eileen left after this service to attend the church service up at Uganda Martyr’s Catholic Church with Fr. John. She toured their clinic, had lunch with Fr. John, then returned in time for the third service of the day in Muko.

While Eileen was gone, Sue was the only Muzungu who attended the second service outside under the tents. The was Rev Gerald again delivering the sermon. There were about 400 attendees and it went until around 2:45. We then had lunch. 

Eileen and Sue attend the third service again under the tent. Rev Gerald provided his third sermon of the day. There was dancing and singing from three choirs and lots of short speeches. When we finished about 5:30 pm, Sue and Eileen went with Christopher by the ACT Empowerment Center to pick up some printing before heading back to the hotel arriving shortly after 7:00 pm.

Please continue to pray for Josiah and Pamella, our orphan recently diagnosed with a brain tumor, who are heading by bus overnight to Kampala so that she can be seen by the neurologist at Milagro Hospital. We hope to have more information on her condition in a few days. 

Saturday, February 16

The third day of Parenting Training was today. We have had over 60 people attending all three days. Today was powerful. They talked about nurturing good behavior and family planning. The information was very new for the community members attending. These were difficult topics to present challenging cultural norms but well done. At the end of the training we had a celebration which began with the ACT Stringed Orchestra, then many mini speeches and testimonials and great appreciation to Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Midland, MI for funding this opportunity and ACT for hosting.  Each attendee received a certificate which is very important here. It felt like a graduation.The celebration ended with a ceremonial cutting of a beautiful cake. Dancing broke out spontaneously and we danced our way outside to the courtyard of Muko High School. We took some photos of the whole group outside.

In the morning, Dave and Guma travelled to Kabale to pick up some electrical supplies and the cake for the training. Dave had to look for a brace or a sling for Pamela but came home with something like an ace bandage so Lori will be making the arm brace and sling.

During lunch, Linda, Eileen, Lori and Sue visited Josiah and Phoebe’s house which is up the road behind the ACT Empowerment Center. Phoebe prepared some fresh pineapple, watermelon and passion fruit for  us. We visited for a few minutes then came back to the training.

Linda and Dave made their way back to Kabale in the afternoon (Christopher’s third trip between Kabale and Muko) so that Linda could meet with the President of the Kabale Rotary Club and Dave could prepare for his radio show tonight talking about the high school.

Christopher came back at 4:30 (fourth trip) to pick up Sue, Eileen, Lori, Will and Generous to come to Kabale. Will is staying with us for some days while we are here at the hotel. Generous had a meeting here in town to further plan the event tomorrow at the high school and do the radio show with Dave.

Sue Waechter

Training Graduates

Training Graduates



At Josiah & Phoebe’s House

At Josiah & Phoebe’s House

Friday, February 15

Today was Day 2 of our Parenting training held at Muko High School. Participants seem to really be learning a lot from this training. During the afternoon, Dave had to leave to work most of the day on high school accounting. He then had a very tough budgeting meeting with Sam, the Head Teacher and Barbra the Director of Studies to cut $53,000,000 from the 2019 budget! It was a tough meeting but they succeeded with reductions across the board in operational costs and only letting one staff person’s position be left unfilled. 

Dave then interviewed for the Bursar position and eventually hired a new woman as Bursar. He will now be working with her for the next two weeks to learn the process, the policies and Quick Books. 

Sue met with Judith Tukahirwa as the new HEAL Manager! The very cool thing is Judith is our very first Maverick Leadership Scholar. She has just graduated with her certificate in Midwifery. We plan to look into her working as HEAL Manager while she might also work at the Ikamiro Clinic as a midwife. We talked a fair amount about the future of the HEAL program and how we might evaluate it for future growth. We decided that we would take a break from new dialogues and do an intensive follow up on the HEAL program. Will Buckner, our Peace Corps volunteer, is going to help with this. And, Judith has done community assessments in her education. 

After 10 years, Lori Marsh on our team, got to meet Osbert in person! Osbert is 23 years old and just finished Senior 4 which is equivalent to 11th grade. He would like to go to a vocational school for being a cobbler. Children’s Therapy Corner has sponsored him since 2018. They were both excited to meet each other. She will be working with him physically to help him from becoming more limited to his physical limitations - Klippel Feil syndrome. 

We have an interloper at our dinner table at the hotel in Kabale tonight - Will! It is so good to spend some time with him and get to know him better. 

Tomorrow is the 3rd day of the Parenting Training. We will let you know how things go! So far, so good!

Sue Waechter

Lori with Osbert

Lori with Osbert

Lori Presenting at Training

Lori Presenting at Training

Will Buckner

Will Buckner

Thursday, Valentine's Day!

What a day of love we had. We went to Muko for the first day. My (Sue) favorite part of my trips is ALWAYS climbing out of the van at the ACT Empowerment Center and seeing and hugging all our staff for the first time. This morning was no exception. Two new faces for me today was Thomas Akwankasa who has been the Acting HEAL Manager and done an amazing job and Will Buckner, our Peace Corps volunteer! Will shared with me that he had been looking forward to us coming to be able to be around some folks from home for a while. The ACT Empowerment Center was spotless and the grounds as well. They always work so hard to make it look nice for us. And we so appreciate all their preparation and hard work. 

Shortly after meeting and greeting the staff and taking a tour of the ACT Empowerment Center, Linda, Lori and Eileen went up to Muko High School where the Parenting Training was beginning. Sue and Dave stayed and met with the ACT staff to walk through our total trip agenda which took about an hour and a half. We then all went up to join the training. This training was a blessing from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Midland. We applied for their community grant and received enough to pay the three trainers and their transportation from Kampala to Muko. They are not only providing the training for parents but providing a train-the-trainer so that we can turn around and have these people turn around and train others! So, participating now are 6 classroom teachers, 6 guardians, administration for Muko High School, representatives from the Board of Governors and the ACT Board, and others. This was a lively interaction all day long talking about Building Self Esteem in your children and Being a Friend to your children. At the end of the day, people had the opportunity to train each other. 

At 5:00 pm when the training had finished, Dave and Sue had the ultimate privilege of taking the recommendations of nine students who would awarded the empowerment scholarships for the room, board and tuition for the full year. The three students who received scholarships last year automatically got scholarships again this year. The criteria for these additional 6 students were that they are good students showing an interest in school and having great need financially. Their stories on their applications nearly brought tears to my eyes. One young man comes from a father who has taken five wives and Richard has 16 siblings. His father is a security guard. No wonder there is financial need to send the kids to school. 

We called the 5 students (one was not there today) to inform them they had been awarded the scholarships. Their reaction was so great. I have to say, this was one of the most fun things I’ve ever gotten to do. They were all so emotional and so appreciative. The funds for the scholarships came from the ACT Trivia Night in Midland last September. Not only do these nine students benefit, it helps us try to make the high school solvent. 

Dave spent the afternoon working on the finances for MHS, and discussions are planned with the administrative staff on budget reductions for 2019.

Sue Waechter

February 13, 2019 - First Day in Kabale!

We arrived after perfect travel. Tired but safe and with all of our luggage! We went to bed at about 1am Uganda time. Yesterday Dave, Sue and Generous met with Ismael, the Commissioner of Education and Sports and Edward his Deputy to discuss Muko High School issues and the Board of Governors (school board) and committees recommended. They affirmed much of how we are managing the school but we also learned some helpful things. After the meeting Sue, Generous, Linda, Lori and Eileen went to the Buganda Td Market which is small stalls of women selling handcrafts. Let’s just say, we helped the local economy

We had a couple of hours in the afternoon to rest and just lay prone after which we hosted Mary Ann, the Training Manager for Peace Corps at our hotel. It was so interesting to learn more about the process for Volunteers who go around the world on behalf of the US. She was so delightful. 

While we were still visiting with Mary Ann, in walked Eric Stanfield (Toni and Marks son), his fiancé, Jackie, and their friend Elvis!  It was so good to see Eric and meet Jackie. They stayed for dinner with us. We were able to learn more from Eric and Elvis about our ambition to get some folks in the village to join AA. 

During dinner Roberta arrived.  She is Director of a private International girl’s school in Kampala. She was very helpful, again affirming our struggles at the high school, and giving us suggestions. It was a great day and we all headed for bed by 9:30. 

We learned yesterday that one of our orphans Pamella Akansasira, 16 years old in Senior One, apparently had a stroke and was numb on her left side and was in Kabale Hospital. We were in shock. We stayed in touch with Karen Viele, our MukoHOPE Team Manager in the U.S. and notified Pam and Bob Goddard, her sponsors. We were anxious to get to Kabale today (8 hour drive) and meet the doctor at the hospital to talk with her. She explained all the testing they had done. A CT scan showed Pamella has a brain tumor. Oh my. The doctor here said she thought it could be malignant because of the shape of it but that also she could go through surgery. She referred her to Milagro Hospital in Kampala. We will have Josiah take her to the neurosurgery center along with her guardian who will have to stay with her in Kampala. Please, please keep Pamella in your prayers. It was a God thing that Lori Marsh, an occupational therapist from Children’s Therapy Corner, was able to be there to ask the right questions of the physician.  We will keep everyone updated. Unpacking in our hotel in Kabale and going to bed. Tomorrow will be the first day in the village.

Linda, Eileen, Eric, Jackie & Sue

Linda, Eileen, Eric, Jackie & Sue

A Stop at the Equator!

A Stop at the Equator!

A Meeting with Mary Ann from Peace Corps

A Meeting with Mary Ann from Peace Corps

The February 2019 Mission Team is on their way ...

On Feb 10th the next ACT Travel Team departed for Uganda. Members of the team are Dave Viele (ACT Treasurer), Sue Waechter (ACT US Director), Linda Racine, Eileen Rudzinski, and Lori Marsh. Linda and Eileen will be providing basic mental health training for ACT Staff, ACT Health Promotion Workers, teachers and administration of several schools, and other community members. Lori, an Occupational Therapist, will be working with students on health and welfare. Dave and Sue will be attending many meetings involving the ACT staff and programs and the Muko High School staff and administration.  In addition, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Midland has generously provided grant money to cover a 3-day training for the Muko Community on parenting skills and child development.   

Mission Team Feb 2019.JPG

Volunteers needed!!


in order to make the shows listed below a success, we always need dedicated volunteers.  This fall is no exception.  We do have some volunteers for most shows, but we are still in need of a few more.  Most specifically, we need a lead volunteer for the weekend of November 17 & 18 at the Midland Center for the Arts' Holiday Art Fair, as well as volunteers to work 2 or 3 hour shifts at this show and a few others.  If you feel this is something you'd like to do, please contact Beth Martin at  THANK YOU!

We look forward to seeing you and thank you in advance for your kind support!

  • Saturday, November 3 (9:00 - 3:00):  Dickens Christmas Bazaar, First Congregational Church, 6105 Center Road, Traverse City, Michigan

  • Sunday, November 4 (9:30 – 12:30 – between Masses):  Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 3109 Swede Avenue, Midland, Michigan

  • Sunday, November 11 (11:00):  First Presbyterian Church, 508 Franklin Ave, Grand Haven, Michigan

  • Sunday, November 11 (11:15 – 12:30): St. John’s Episcopal Church, 405 N. Saginaw Road, in the Williams Hall, Midland, Michigan

  • Saturday, November 17 (3:30 – 5:30) & Sunday, November 18 (8:30 – 1:00):  St. Francis Catholic Church, 1025 S. Union St, Traverse City, Michigan

  • Saturday, November 17 (10:00 - 5:00) & Sunday, November 18 (12:00 - 4:00):  Holiday Art Fair, Midland Center for the Arts, 1801 W. St. Andrews Road, Midland Michigan 

  • Sunday, November 18 (9:00 – 12:00):  The Presbyterian Church of Traverse City, 701 Westminster Road, Traverse City, Michigan

  • Sunday, November 18 (9:45-10:45 & 12:00-1:00):  Memorial Presbyterian Church in Mayton Hall, 1310 Ashman Street, Midland, Michigan

  • Sunday, December 2 (11:00):  First Presbyterian Church, 2021 N Aurelius Rd., Holt, Michigan

  • Saturday, December 8 (10:00 - 5:00) & Sunday, December 9 (11:00 - 4:00):  Scottish Rite, Masonic Center, 614 Center Avenue, Bay City, Michigan

Upcoming Art Fairs in Michigan!

It’s that time of year when we are all looking for special gifts for our loved ones.  Look no further!  ACT Uganda will have a variety of beautifully handcrafted baskets, jewelry and sewn items available for sale at many art fairs throughout Michigan – maybe even as close as your Church!  Take a look through the list below, find the sale that works for you, and mark it on your calendar.  Your purchase will make your loved one smile, as well as help improve the lives of our brothers and sisters in Muko Sub-County Uganda.  We look forward to seeing you and thank you in advance for your kind support!

  • Saturday, November 3 (9:00 - 3:00):  Dickens Christmas Bazaar, First Congregational Church, 6105 Center Road, Traverse City

  • Sunday, November 4 (9:30 – 12:30 – between Masses):  Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 3109 Swede Avenue, Midland

  • Sunday, November 11 (11:00):  First Presbyterian Church, 508 Franklin Ave, Grand Haven

  • Sunday, November 11 (11:15 – 12:30): St. John’s Episcopal Church, 405 N. Saginaw Road, in the Williams Hall, Midland

  • Saturday, November 17 (3:30 – 5:30) & Sunday, November 18 (8:30 – 1:00):  St. Francis Catholic Church, 1025 S. Union St, Traverse City

  • Saturday, November 17 (10:00 - 5:00) & Sunday, November 18 (12:00 - 4:00):  Holiday Art Fair, Midland Center for the Arts, 1801 W. St. Andrews Road, Midland  

  • Sunday, November 18 (9:00 – 12:00):  The Presbyterian Church of Traverse City, 701 Westminster Road, Traverse City

  • Sunday, November 18 (9:45-10:45 & 12:00-1:00):  Memorial Presbyterian Church in Mayton Hall, 1310 Ashman Street, Midland

  • Sunday, December 2 (11:00):  First Presbyterian Church, 2021 N Aurelius Rd., Holt

  • Saturday, December 8 (10:00 - 5:00) & Sunday, December 9 (11:00 - 4:00):  Scottish Rite, Masonic Center, 614 Center Avenue, Bay City

September 21 (Sent by Karen Viele)

We spent another long day in Muko. 

Diana helped so much by helping to pack and inventory suitcases with handcrafts and clearing up a few last minute MukoHOPE issues like our letter writing log and revising the gift buying catalog. We will bring this to the next MukoHOPE meeting. 

Roger found some scrap pieces of wood and constructed a place in the safe room for hanging music vests. It will be so helpful to Howard for keeping them organized. It is really quite inventive and I am really grateful! Roger also spent time with Moses and Will and the HANDS program. 

Dave spent the whole day at Muko HS. He is now within one hour of balancing the August accounts with Grace and feels very hopeful about the next few months. Grace has done many repetitive transactions within Quickbooks and Dave feels that the future is bright! The school even finished August in the Black by using the government funds received. Now the challenge is finishing the year the same way! 

Rev Esau ( Chair of the Board of Governors or school board) came to the school to lead a meeting with Sam, Generous, Guma, Dave and Archdeacon David. The meeting went very well and everyone came out in good spirits and much hope for the future. 

Dave and I spoke to the student body in an assembly today. We talked about the future, about tightening up discipline, about vandalism, and emphasizing education in the next year. We recognized the National Math Contest scholars, the Prefects, the Honors Council members, and the Music students. After the meeting, Sam and Godfrey ( our Head teacher and Deputy) called in seven boys one by one who were the most difficult discipline problems at the school and we talked to each one giving them one more chance to remain at the school. We are all praying that they will “wake up” and choose good paths. If not, and there is another incident, we have agreed with Sam and Godfrey to dismiss them. 

Sam also disciplined three girls who refused to cut their hair. The student code of conduct requires short, literally shaved heads so we supported his policy, even though we were wishing they would give them that choice. Rev Esau shared with us that this had happened with one of his daughters as well. Rev Esau has ten children with three sets of twins so he understands these things!

I had a rehearsal from 5-6:30 with the MUSIC students. Today they learned about the role of the concert master and it occurred to me that their audiences might not know the protocol! Still, we selected a concertmaster and they sight read two new pieces. 

The team is ready  to wrap everything up and pack up tomorrow night.