Saturday, August 30, 2008

Random Picture Posting

Had some extra time today so thought I would post some pictures that had not previously made it on here. This upcoming week we will be in the village of Mabaale where we will be working with the MET (mobilize, equip and train) team AKA HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You are welcome Mr. Luke and Madam Carol

So this is how we are greeted everywhere we go. For some reason the R in Ruco always becomes an L and the rest is just up to personal preference. Kristi inevitably becomes either Christine or Carol, which I guess Carol works since its her mother's name. I have no problem with this however, since I am often unable to catch their names either. We have been very busy the last few weeks as you can probably notice in our posting drought. We did have an awesome opportunity to go to Queen Elizabeth national park a few weekends ago and it was wonderful.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

WATSAN in Ntara

Wow, what a busy and fun last week we have had working with the WATSAN program. As you might well be wondering what WATSAN is, let me explain. WATSAN stands for WATer and SANitation. The program started here in Kamwenge in 2003 with the main purpose being to improve the general sanitation practices of people as well as creating safe water sources. SP goes about accomplishing this goal by first sending a team of educators into local villages. They call for a village meeting, where they sensitize the community by discussing current health problems, how sanitation/ their water source relates to those problems, and finally how SP will respond. The village elects a WATSAN Committee comprised of between 5-10 individuals. These individuals receive further training on disease, how it is spread and how they can safeguard their water source from harboring many of these diseases. Next, SP sends in a technical team to construct biosand water filters made completely from materials locally available. (Check out Samaritan Purse BioSand Filter and Biosand for more info). SP requires interested beneficiaries to provide some of the materials as well as most of the labor. A technician will visit the beneficiaries 4 times after they have received their filter to make sure it is being used properly, to answer any questions and provide further training where necessary. SP has also implemented a rainwater harvesting project which has created several large tanks (20000 liter) for local schools as well as smaller jars (1000 liters) for families. These allow the beneficiaries a constant source of clean water for most of the year. Soo.... As you will see from the pictures, Kristi and I were able to get involved in all aspects of the program; from filter construction to community sensitization to follow up visitations.

Despite our busyness, we were able to take last weekend off and head to Kibale national park where we went for a "forest walk". The forest was so immense that I had the feeling of being visitor in an other-worldly place. As we were hiking around I kept thinking about the quote in "Heart of Darkness" where Marlow describes the forest this way; "
Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. "

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Goats, Cows, and Pigs Oh My!

Prior to this week I had never caught a chicken, given a cow a vaccination, built a fish pond, or restrained a goat, but after one week with the livestock team here in Kamwenge, I can say that I've done that and much more! It has been exciting and inspiring visiting with the various beneficiaries all over this district. I have heard numerous stories about how a few goats or some chickens have made significant impacts on livelihoods of so many people in the community. The staff here begin by providing a 2 week workshop on how SP's Livestock program functions and then follows with more practical information on how to properly care for the animals. The most motivated and needy individuals are determined. The selected individuals are required to build proper enclosers/pens for the animals using locally available materials. Upon completion of the structures, SP provides the individuals with the animals (either 1 cow, 3 goats, 1 pig or 10 chickens). They continue to monitor the beneficiaries on a weekly basis to ensure that the animals are well taken care of and have received all their immunizations. Within 2-3 years the beneficiaries are required to repay the animals which they were given and those animals are then given to the next beneficiary. The program has proven to be both succesful and sustainable with numerous families testifying to better food security, improved health and more disposable income.