Monday, September 19, 2016

Sheryl had a very interesting breakfast yesterday and it looked so good I requested the same thing today. Then we learned from our driver, Reward, that it's a very common Ugandan breakfast for a busy day. It's called an Egg Rollex, and basically it's a very flat omelet with finely chopped vegetables, wrapped in a hot chapati. Delicious and filling!

It varies from school to school, but today is the first day of the term for some schools, so the foot traffic along the road as we drove to Muko today was full of children in school uniforms. Those of our orphans who attend Murole Preparatory School were due back today and we found some of them already waiting when we arrived at the Center. Others trickled in until eventually we had to take two trips to the school. Dave V. went with the first bus; Nancy went with the second. Nancy said the students disappeared with their friends almost immediately upon arrival.

We had one unhappy experience in sending the students off to school. An orphan new to the program, 9-year-old Sunday Dickson Tumwebembeza, came for his first interview this morning. He was clearly scared half to death by the room full of muzungus measuring him and taking pictures. We presented him with his blanket and interviewed him, but he actually doesn't yet have a sponsor, so he couldn't get on the bus with the other children. We had to send him home with his guardian, who did seem to understand the situation, but it was heartbreaking all the same. Perhaps someone would like to sponsor him? On the ACT Uganda website, click on "Make a Difference," then "Sponsor an Orphan." It's simple and it's not too late to send Dickson to school his term. It would change his life.

Nancy had the opportunity of touring Murole School with Norman Tushabe, the director. Shesaw the computer lab -- 24 new Dell computers (a good start toward the goal of 50). The students in the Primary 4 - Primary 7 classes have a 45-minute computer class daily: the school expectation is that when they graduate, the students should be able to compete in the world market for jobs. After school hours, inexpensive classes are offered to the community.

Nancy also visited a VocTech class where secondary students were learning to make shoes. If the shoes pass inspection, they are sold in the market. Nancy was so impressed, she bought a pair on the spot, as soon as the shoemaker-girl finished her work! They are a pair of flip-flops with an oval of beadwork at the juncture where the straps join. The beadwork is not done by Murole students at this time, but it has been introduced into the classes.

The HEAL Program ran their first dialog with a village today and it was a great success. The volunteer health promoters ran the meeting. A surprise was the attendance of 15-20 Batwa (bush people, or pygmies). The relationship between villagers and Batwa is usually akin to that of the Australians and the aborigines, so it is not typical for the Batwa to willingly intermingle. What they shared at the meeting was their happiness to be sitting with the villagers and to have a voice in the proceedings.

The dialogue process went well. Clean water and agriculture were the two priorities chosen, and action plans were made. Rauben, however, is working to alter the HEAL process to more closely align with the cooperatives which are currently working so well in other areas, so the action plans may be changed some before they're implemented.

Several sewing ladies came to work today. They cut fat quarters and, after Phoebe figured out how to thread the treadle machine, worked on assembling elephant and giraffe toys. The other sewing machine was out of commission today after the needle broke. The ladies are looking forward to getting a new machine or two so that progress won't be so slow.

The HANDS team stayed in Kabale today, meeting with people from the Kihefocommunity health outreach program. The program runs a variety of health clinics -- AIDS, maternity, dental, and others. The program the HANDS team was most interested in was one for malnourished children -- they have 3 demonstration gardens and a large rabbit farm. The supervisor for the gardens wasn't available, so they weren't able to visit the gardens, but they did get to tour the rabbit farm. Classes in tending rabbits are offered, after which the students are given three rabbits -- two males and a female, all of different varieties.

The team also visited MTRC (the mushroom training facility). There, they learned that MTRC is working on developing new techniques for growing mushrooms, with an aim towards reducing costs for the growers. One anticipated problem the Muko area growers are concerned about is their reliance on plastic bags. Rwanda has passed a law banning plastic bags, and even though it's a controversial issue, Uganda is considering doing the same. So new ways of doing things could be needed soon. One possible solution involves building a box and starting with a layer of dirt, over which the substrate is spread. This may solve another of the Mulo grower's problems: by eliminating the need to cook the medium, they would also eliminate the need for more large cooking vessels. MRTC gave Moses samples of new mushroom varieties to try. A very productive day!

Nena and I sorted the pillowcase dresses in anticipation of handing them out tomorrow. We're all ready to go. I also worked on getting the "basket room" in order by labeling as many baskets as possible so they can be packed tomorrow. We are definitely bringing home some treasures for the store!

The rainy season has arrived. We've had short afternoon rains for the past few days, but both yesterday and today we had absolute downpours. We're all thinking its time to go home!

As this is our next to last night here, we had a staff appreciation dinner. We drove tothe Bunyonyi Overland Resort, a lovely resort area on the other side of Lake Bunyonyi. The food was delicious and everyone, both Ugandan and American, was made to feel quite thoroughly appreciated.

Below: Orphans ready for first day of school, Dickson Tumwebembeza, MEP sewing ladies, Murole School, students making shoes, Murole computer lab (Murole photos by Nancy S.)