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Ventures For Good
Serving the under-served in the US and Africa with education and technology

2017 Trip to Uganda

Well, “It was the best of times and it was the worst of times”  Read my candid account.

Sunday arrived 10:20 p.m Straight to Landmark Hotel

Monday- woke late. Shopped for craft supplies and gifts for the blind children

Tuesday- met Jonathan Kamwana at Ministry in Kampala. Introduced to ICT coordinator. We had to wait for a meeting to be over. Then ICT person and Joan Kajura were told of our projects this year. They invited us to come back to speak to all the Education officers at their weekly meeting. We will do that on Oct. 23 at 8:30 a.m. Means staying in Kampala Sunday night, getting round trip car- Uggh

Jude drove us to Jinja to Jinja City Hotel –room 704 same as last year. Told Chole and Julius of our arrival.

Wednesday: We met Chole and Julius at 9 a.m. Met with Charles, headmaster who wrote a beautiful note of appreciation. We took a car to Municpality to meet Vicky , a planner to ask if we could do a Park Renovation Project. She was away with a sick sister. So we were lucky to be introduced to the Chief Engineer, Mohammed. We spoke of our plans, design thinking, park renovation. He knew of Marie from Sweden project in Ripon park. He then said we should come back tomorrow to speak to the 8 officials.

Then we wanted to meet the people at Help International, a faith based organization headquartered in Colorado. They do so much. They want to give ICT skills to every teacher in Jinja. They were given community land to build a school. They now have an aquaponics project in the works!!!!! We had a lot to talk about because I am going to start one this year. They offered to help and advise. They have a computer lab where they offer basic training in the applications and a more vigorous course (8 months) in ICT skills. Classes are offered to cohorts 3 times a day for 2 hours. They study applications, computer repair, networking, some programming in Java. Arthur runs all that and he is a young very smart guy. He then introduced us to Paul who is doing the aquaponics project. It was started by Bob from NY! And trained by someone named Jim. What a wonderful and productive visit. There are things we can do to work together.

ForEx – more money

Then we went back to the Kabagezi Center. The kids swarmed us! Couldn’t breathe but they were so excited. The internet is terrible at the hotel and also at the center or my laptop is really slow. I called GoDaddy and they streamlined how many emails show up on a page, but I cannot even get on to put the older emails in folders so they don’t reload. I have to purge so much from the server. Too much junk mail. We went shopping for brown paper to wrap and white chart paper. Chole, John, Julius, Sandra and Rose helped to repackage the zedupads to send back to Zambia. We are missing one we think, unless 3 got put into one package. Ugggh. I called Dan to confirm that he is coming tomorrow to give lessons on urban planning. They put up the poster from the Agricultural Fair (with MY picture on it, OMG!)

Gave 70,000 to Julius to pay for half the bus that will pick up the children from 3 schools for tomorrows lessons by Dan, Sandra and me.

Thursday

The children from 3 schools arrived promptly at 8 a.m. However, Dan did not make it until 10. We waited until 9 and then I introduced Design Thinking to the 42 children. I had called the Planning Office to see when they wanted me to come to a committee meeting to explain the park renovation project. Vicky said that 9:30 would work….but then, I was informed that the camera that I brought to Julius had been stolen last evening. We got very involved in trying to solve the crime. We called in all the students who had swarmed us last night because one of them probably took it. Everyone was in denial. Long story but I realized I missed my appointment. Luckily, it wasn’t a problem. I arrived about 10:15 and spoke at length to the City Planner, Charles. He wanted me to speak at the larger committee meeting which was being organized. I waited….and waited…..and waited. Finally at about 12, most members arrived. The most important was the Town Clerk, Jofram, who called the meeting to order. I had given members a copy of my concept note to read while the others were arriving- good idea- so they knew where I was going. I spoke for about 15 minutes giving a history of the work we have done and what we wanted for the children- design thinking. The idea was immediately approved and they gave the choice of any park in Jinja! Members present were Mohammed, Tom, Charles and the education officer (who was substituting for Amina) and his assistant Were. Julius had gone back to Main St. School to look for camera, then everyone went to lunch even though I had ordered it. Oh well, we had some for dinner.

In the morning Dan did a lesson on urban planning and had kids make posters of their town. Very good. They enjoyed it. In the afternoon, Sandra started with Scratch, having them first draw avatars that they would write a story about in Scratch. Power went out and xo laptops ran out of batteries but the children drew avatars and some used Scratch. Tomorrow we will work with the 4 other schools doing the same lessons.

 

Friday

Again Dan arrived late due to traffic and the children from the Island School did not arrive until afternoon. I started with an introduction to design thinking, using designing the classroom as an example. When Dan arrived, he did the same lesson of designing Jinja city with the children. They did very well and included many interesting elements in their cities, such as zoos, zebra crossings, parks, hotels, gardens and forests.

We did hear from the planner who was supposed to show us the other open spaces but he was very busy at work. I told him I really liked the park we saw, the Hodge Tabac Park, both for its look and its proximity to the schools we work with. He said we could have that one and Vicky told John that we would get a formal stamped document that allowed us to take it over. The fence would be provided by the town while we are working on it. I asked John whether he would like the park or the aquaponics, he seemed to prefer the park, which makes me very happy. That means it will get done. Let’s hope our budget meets his request!

Sandra again did the scratch lesson which included the Island kids, bringing the total population to 64! She is amazing. They worked in groups to create avatars, which they will animate.

I spent at least 2 hours at the MTN office trying to get my hotspot loaded. Apparently all SIM cards were deregistered and you either had to buy a new one or re-register the old one (which is what I did). I am thinking that was a mistake because we cannot make it work for love or money. Then Julius and I went to Africell to find out why the Center’s internet was so slow. Turned out that when Julius renewed it, he went to someone other than Gloria, who usually loads packets that are fast. The other woman loaded the unlimited plan which is painfully slow. You cannot switch plans mid-stream so we have to wait until November 3rd to get a new plan or lose the $100 for the month.

In the evening, Sandra and I worked out a lesson for tomorrow at the Community Center. I think we will have young children in the morning and the older children in the afternoon. I think we will do WPS and have the children write a creative story with pictures, photos, drawings. Still cannot get on the internet! Maybe this cheap PC is partly responsible.

I must add that the streets we travel are horrendous! And that is SUCH an understatement. Cars, buses, boda bodas (motorcycles) bicycles and people all walking, racing in opposite directions on unpaved and rocky roads and sidewalks(where vendors take up most of the space). It’s a race for your life literally! Vehicles have the right of way and they don’t even slow down. Horrible, horrible, horrible! School kids, babies, working men and women, vendors, sewing stations, stores, sheer lunacy. And nights! Nights! Indescribable-- because you add more vendors to the sidewalks, people cooking with hot coals, squatting, shoes for sale, LOUD LOUD DJ music, honking cars and boda bodas, and NO LIGHTS so you can twist your ankle on every step. You ought to come here.

 

Saturday

Got to sleep a bit later today. We left for St. Francis Community Center around 9:45. Sarij is our driver of choice. Warm warm welcome from John Kiberu. We went into his office to chat a bit. I found out that their tablets had locked up one at a time, so I spent a few minutes showing him how to unlock and download WPS. Later showed Alex, the mentor as well.

We went into the classroom. John gave us a presentation of what was done this year. ICT training using PCs and the tablets before they locked. They also did a farming project growing carrots and some greens. Due to lack of pesticides and lack of constant watering, they decided to bring some of the farming to home gardens. The kids then presented their learning to us. 3 were especially articulate. They are so lovable and so excited to be becoming leaders in ICT. When they learn, they will expand the learning to others. This is an after-school program

Our lessons centered around writing. Sandra had half the class draw a figure, an avatar or anthing they could see in their future. With the other half, I passed out 17 tablets and taught them W of WPS and how to insert pictures or photos, how to save as well. Sandra’s kids and mine switched and we each taught our part. Sandra had them write about their future, I wanted them to make up a story. Seems like the future self was more successful as a prompt.

Then we left around 2 , went back to the hotel for a little while. Then we walked to PMM School to see Chole’s exhibition on Creative Writing. It was amazing. Took some videos. Several high schools and Jinja college performed poetry, music, creative stories. Some of the girls from……high school in Kampala were amazing with strong voices against government, poverty and praising women.  One fo the boys from Jinja college got up to speak and told them that they should use that passion to talk about solutions not just complain. Both sides made good points.

Everyone was thanked and I even spoke for a bit, telling them that in order to solve a problem,  you must empathize with it, define it and then solve it. It is design thinking and we are working with the younger children to give them voices at a young age. I told them you don’t need me to tell you that you are good. You know you are good. You have the passion and the power.

Many of last year’s PMM girls came to talk to us, told us of their dreams….fashion designer, airplane pilot. We saw Terry, Ephat, Mariana and ….

We then walked to a very nice internet café- off Main St, turn left on  block of pharmacy a block from Main St. School, opposite side (upstairs) 45 minutes was only 1000 shillings!

Then we came back to the hotel with Chole and had some wine and nuts, corn on the cob.

 

Sunday

Morning after breakfast, I went to church. Met a young woman (31) who was in her third year studying ophthalmology She earned her own tuition by working as a midwife after receiving that certification. She is married with 2 children too. Have her contact info. She said I was the first white person that she was able to approach as we both walked to Fatima Church. Very nice!

Afternoon spent at the center, bringing equipment, sorting it, charging it. Very little charges stayed on the machines. Then we went to pick up Namate, our trainer from Zambia. Spent the evening going over the zedupad, how to install. She took 12 machines back to the hotel to talk to her colleagues about how to get them ready for Monday. We went home, ate chicken on the stick from a vendor and bought yogurt for dinner. Slept OK

 

Monday

What a day! Can’t believe it is only Monday. I stayed at Main St. School with Spire Kids and Main St. Kids (now 32 of them) to work on Day 1 of Design. Very noisy active kids but they did OK. Very busy getting them first to understand Design Thinking, then interviewing a teacher about what they carried in school. Made a list on the board. Had them draw solutions (backpack) on a sheet of paper. Then collaborate on one design per 3 students. Finally they made them to scale when I gave them a big poster board. Finally, we started a powerpint presentation showcasing their design thinking.

Sandra had Army Boarding and St. Gonzaga at St. Gonaagas and she taught Scratch.

Afternoon, Sandra and I swapped places. She did her lesson on Scratch programming and I did the Design 1 lesson at St. Gonzagas

The children were rambunctious. Always calling madam, madam to ask questions even as I was answering another;s. I could be a little short with them but they made their backpacks and bags too. Some are really good!

Night time, back to center probably around 6 and went over the monetary demands of transporting us, the children, buying snacks , water, lunch for both teachers and students. Man, they can take a long time figuring it out. Sandra took off to relax – we were exhausted from the day, and I eventually walked back to the hotel, carrying at least 50 pounds of stuff. Some charging was necessary but I think the machines are broken! I will get up in the middle of the night to switch the charging.

I do think the day was successful despite the obstacles.

 

Buses seem to cost 70,000 one trip

Cars run 10000 to 15000 for a short trip

Teacher 25 lunches 86500 per day

Snacks ciappata and water…45000

Children 50000 lunch 50000 snack with water

 

Tuesday

Today, I went to Army Boarding School and the students from St. Gonzaga were brought there. Sandra went to Spire Primary and the children from Main St. were brought there. Bus that I paid for.

We got a late start because the Town Planner who was supposed to have given us the dimensions of the proposed park as well as the google map of it on Saturday still had not given them to me and it was the subject of today’s lesson. I called him early this morning and he said he would bring it to Main St School where we were waiting. The children were in their other schools classroom waiting….. I called him 2 more times and he said he was coming…..I offered to meet him at his office but he was coming from home. He assured me he was almost at my place. About 10:15 he arrived! Did he have the plans? Oh no, they were at the office!!! Do you f’n believe that. Why did he come? To say hello? OMG! So then I had to leave to start teaching almost 2 hours late, and I had to send Julius on a boda boda to go pick up the plans that were not even printed. Instead the planner delivered them later to the school. What an ordeal. You wonder why things take so long to accomplish here.

So first I asked the children what they wanted to see in their park. Wrote it on the board. Both morning and afternoon sessions were the same although the afternoon session wanted more items. I had some measurements of the more common elements like football field, volley ball, net ball, basketball, stage for performers and seating, target practice (arrows), playground with jumping rope, swings, slides, trampoline. I taught the children about the scale on the graph paper and while they were measuring each of the elements and cutting them out, I worked with a teacher to work out the size of the park. It took 2 pieces of poster paper cut into 3 pieces to get the shape of the park to scale of the graph paper.

I think the kids got it but I had to hurry them along. The morning classes did not have time to add the picture of their park to their presentations. The afternoon class went a little faster but the batteries on the machines failed on some. Also I should have grouped them the same as the day before so that their park plans would be on the same tablet as their back pack presentation. Big mistake. Live and Learn!

I picked out the best ones and those students will come on Saturday morning to perfect their presentations and in the afternoon, we will have the 2nd Annual African Children’s Conference with their presentations. We will invite their teachers and parents. I hope it works out!

We are exhausted.  I will repeat here what I wrote to my family in a text a little while ago

I don’t know about productive. The technology fails because it runs out of battery power and I should have grouped the children better. Live and learn! The streets are so chaotic. Life threatening. Carring so much. We have to get cars sometimes because we moved from school to school. Children need buses so I have to pay for that. Luckily Chole and Julius arrange that and lunches but there is so much negotiating it is mind blowing. If you want to buy supplies, it takes 10 minutes to count out 12 poster board. Then they wrap for another 5 minutes I have no patience for that. But the children are learning. Today they designed their version of the park. Tomorrow I will only teach half day so I can observe what the Zambian trainer has been doing. She has the teachers and that is going well. You really should experience how hard it is to live here. Babies are just standing alone on the sidewalks (if you can call them that) but somehow they do not go into the streets where motorcycles (boda bodas) , cars and buses race all over each other. No stop signs, No traffic lights. Vendors block the “sidewalks” especially at night cooking with hot stoves. Selling shoes, eggs, fruits, etc. Can’t even walk, not to mention the potholes and raises areas that you can’t see in the dark. Dirt everywhere. Just showered t get it off. My hair! OMG!

 

Wednesday

Today, I only taught for half day. Sandra came with me and we were at SDA. The New Victory kids were bussed there. The lesson was on Design Thinking and we made the backpacks as we did for the other schools. However, there was no time to enhance their presentations on WPS, so what I decided to do was to pick the best ones and ask who would like to come to the conference. Those students will come in the morning to prepare their presentations and we will hold the conference in the afternoon. After many attempts to find a solution and much discussion, we decided it was best to hold the conference on next Wednesday instead of Saturday. One school is seventh day Adventist so their children are not allowed to come. Also Julius informed us that he is having a big party for his Mom and he cannot be at the conference Saturday. We need Julius!

Sandra stayed at SDA trying to do Scratch with them but for some reason they did not respond well to that. At least the morning went well!

In the afternoon, I was trying to catch Namate’s lesson but every time I sat, someone would call me out. Vicky from the Planning Office, wanted to meet me. She came with her sisiter, Lydia and we chatted for quite a bit about the proposed park. We will take the students’ ideas, bring them to the board through Vicky. When it is approved, they have a draftsperson who will draw it up to scale. We will need a toilet, a fence and security because thieves will even cut the pipes that hold the basketball court to sell the metal. Nice chat, see the face with the name.

We took Namate to the Lake restaurant and we had such a pleasant conversation, just the 3 gals. We learned more about Namate. She is young, single and so well educated in teaching methodology. The teachers love her. She is easy to related to. I want to go to Zambia now. The English is so much more understandable and she is soooo pleasant! Had appetizer and a drink.

 

Thursday

Early morning, I called Bob Ceylon from NY, who is working with Help International. They are doing great work setting up a lab, training teachers in technology and building a school and an aquaponics project!!!! I wanted to collaborate with him, especially on the aquaponics but it was discouraging to hear the aquaponics was done by Jim who was hired, and it cost around $30,000. We got cut off, but I believe if he wants to train the teachers in technology, that training must still get to the schools with PCs and something for the children. They don’t do that so that is when I told him, we can step in as collaborators. I need to talk to Arthur again.

Today was a half day for me. Sandra stayed at Main St. school to do some Scratch uploads , help out there. She has a whole lot of patience. I was at New Victory School and SDA kids were bussed there.

We designed the park. Again, we did not have time to then create presentations of our work even though the machines were charged and ready to go. They did well. One girl, Jemima—so smart—she realized that the football dimension was off. OMG, if we drew the football to scale, it would take the WHOLE park, so we have to get another ball field idea. WOW. She will definitely be a presenter! In the afternoon, this time, I did observe Namate teaching and then Jannepher presented a lesson on plants. I chimed in with a few thoughts here and there. We were appreciated. Essate gave us a big thank you speech. I recorded it. We decided that Francis machine (which does not connect to projector) should be reloaded with Windows again. There are 2 other PCs that need work. I spoke to the teachers about upcoming days. Tomorrow the head teachers and coordinators should come to the Center and they should bring all the computers, tablets to be checked out over the weekend. We will either reset or return to US. Sandra is going to Sorroti on Sunday. Rose said she would accompany her.

We returned to the hotel about 8 with food. Chicken on the stick, yogurt. Bananas, avocado and g-nuts. Stayed at the bar with a beer to talk to Isaac who promotes events. Gave him a lesson in fatherhood. Basically how to be a DAD. I know he will contact me. I am sure he needs some sort of support. They all do!

I find the Ugandans are in some sort of modern day slavery. They have nothing and they cant see what is going on in the rest of the world because they cannot leave even for a visit. The president of Uganda has to go. He is trying to lift the law about age limits on the presidency…..so he can stay in office. He is in his 70s but he has been president since 1986! He is a king, a rich king and there is so little progress. They kill people who revolt, it is slavery! I have already journaled a bit about the conditions of the roads. The schools are barren and potholed and dusty. 100 kids in a class. Kids who could change things if they get any power as adults, if they get educated and survive. Sad state….

 

Friday

Today we had the head teachers and coordinators for a review of what was going on with the teachers and the children all week. Supposed to start at 9 but you know, Ugandan time, it was more like after 10- very annoying.

Namate gave an excellent presentation, as usual, taking them through the zedupad and how to best teach with it. Took them through the sorting lesson, showed a brief video. The head teachers loved it and they talked about the logistics of getting all teachers to know how to use them and how they can be scheduled. There are only going to be 2 at each school with the exception of the ones at Army Boarding and Main St. I suggested that the primary 1 teachers all meet together at Kabagezi, then the primary 2s etc. to share ideas. Speaking of zedupads, we have been chasing down our shipment since last week. It is STUCK in customs and we are trying everything to get them out. REALLY annoying. Thank God I brought machines from home that could take the limited number of SD cards that Namate brought, but I need the rest to arrive soon!!!!

Then I spoke and showed the head teachers and coordinators what the children were learning, backpacks, park maps, SCRATCH and they loved it and the idea of a park for the community. So that went well. Boy do I have work ahead of me!

We had the headteachers bring all the technology to the center for repair, replacement or upgrading. Sandra who is wonderful and so adept at it, worked on that all morning and late into the afternoon. She had a few little kids helping. She is sooooo patient. One little girl was very clingy and I am sorry to say, I could not do anything with her hanging on me. The noise of the day was especially loud. Children screaming and playing outside of where we had the headteachers and the center where we were working in the afternoon. My hearing is terrible so I heard that more than the good speakers. The rains came too which were also VERY loud. So anyway, we got quite a bit done. Then we went to a relaxing dinner with Chole at 2 Friends Hotel, practically fell asleep there.

 

Saturday

I spent most of the morning and early afternoon going over the children’s work to see if there were ideas we could use in the park design. John Iduuli and I created a plan, adding such things as a “store” to store mobile items in the park, such as basket ball poles, balls, goal posts, etc. The store would also house a guard who could sleep there and we would pay him to clean the health facility, which we also had to add.  Having realized that the football field was too big for the park, we instead used that space for a bigger stage and seating area, and a tag rugby field that doubles as a soccer field. Then we made a list of supplies that would need to be purchased. I made a tentative spreadsheet to record spending and made a copy for John and the municipal planners.

On Monday, we might have time to run this plan over to Charles and Vicky, the planners to see if they can approve the design and have the draftsperson make a copy in scale. First I am going to show the Commissioners in Kampala the children’s work and the “final” proposal.

Then in the afternoon, the technician had to work on my computer which had 16 virus??? On it.

Sandra worked on the tablets and XOs again. Then we waited for Chole and brought his letter to the DEO’s (Amina’s ) house to sign which may hopefully free the zedupads being held captive in Entebbe in customs. We will also bring that letter with signature to URA office in Kampala on Monday. Time is running out for me to distribute the zedupads. I really need those replacements and the SD cards that are in that shipment.

Finally, Chole suggested we grab a drink at the Nile at some POPO???? Restaurant. It was good and we met some people from One Acre Fund. One of the girls was from NY but they were from all over the world working in Jinja, Kenya and Rwanda on agricultural projects. I suggested a network of volunteers online and she said she may have seen a Ted Talk on the topic, that one exists. I need to find that.

 

Sunday

Off to Church at 8 for the English Mass. Nice

Then to the kabagezi center. Francis was there waiting for Martin the tech. Martin is a computer science high school teacher, very nice, good to know. He stayed all day for the 2nd day fixing our computers. Cost 300,000 UgX

Today, I picked out the students who will present. It meant looking at the projects, figuring out which school and jotting down. Took a while. Francis helped

Then I went through the zedupads and figured out who gets what. I still need those zedupad sd cards to complete the transfer to schools.

Then I picked out the tablets that would be going to the schools as replacements or extra.

Then I tried to start a powerpoint presentation for the Ministry tomorrow. We have to rise at 5 to get to the 8 am meeting in Kampala. Taking Sandra, Chole and John(who has other business)

Yesterday, John and I listed all the items we would need for the park and I put them in an Excel spreadsheet. So just as I was working on tomorrow’s presentation, John returned from a day of traveling around to bring me the price list of what we needed. Again, put it all in the spread sheet, took a long time.

Sandra had gone to the Kenya border today to see what projects they were involved in. She came back before I did. Had some chicken on a stick, a beer and now it’s bedtime!

 

Monday

Today was one of the most trying days. We left at 5 am without coffee and rode to Kampala to the Ministry of Education Office. Our driver did not know where we were going, we got very lost, the traffic was IMPOSSIBLE and we arrived just before 10 a.m. for an 8 am meeting! Finally, I got up to present and they cut me short a couple of times. I would say they were hostile but understandably so. They took exception to my bringing in a Zambian trainer with her teaching methodology. They grilled m on how I chose the schools, why I didn’t come to them first. Ha! I have been going there for 4 years but my contact did not inform the others and of course, she was not present at the meeting. They asked for a concept note. I did submit one 4 years ago. Et. Etc.etc. Even the District Education Officer in Jinja who was promoted to the Ministry (and knew well of my work) was called out of the meeting, so I had no support. I finally said do you want me to stop and take the equipment home. They said no but I must send a concept note. Extremely disappointing! Not the reception I expected nor deserved.

Then we proceeded to chase down that shipment from Zambia again. After speaking with several offices and numerous people we still must do about 3 more things to get it releasd by customs AND pay about $300. Talk about bureaucracy!!!! Another reason why this country is behind. Yay for Trump and his deregulation efforts.  I think I am going to the UN! HA! Anyway the internet is down again. Going to teach at the island school tomorrow, the one with all the spiders. They say they’re gone—yeah and I am an Olympic swimmer! Then it’s the fedex thing again and another appointment with the planners. Sandra stay behind in Kampala to go to a FemRight meeting of writers. Another traffic jam- so it will be a 5 hour drive home. (should be 2 hours at most).

Sometime I will describe walking home alone at night in the dark!

Forgot to tell you about Herbert. This young man came out of nowhere while we were waiting to be picked up for our journey to Kampala. Apparently he is a driver so was waiting for his client. He came over to chat. Little did I know he was watching my comings and goings at the hotel. He wanted to be my lover! Ha! He made me laugh. He liked my body HA! HA! Of course, I told him about my husband, my children, my grandchildren. He wanted an affair of the heart, someone to share ideas with. Kind of touching but still impossible. At least at my age, it felt good to be wanted!

 

Tuesday

We got up early to leave by 7 to catch a boat to Kisema Island 1 School on the Island. Jannepher was so kind to provide a very nice boat with a top tarp. A nice ride across Lake Victoria. We arrived to see tons of children all over the place. Basically huts, mud paths, people and did I say LOTS of children. They swarmed us to the point that we could hardly walk, grabbing our hands and following in step. We sat and waited for a change but decided to proceed with the lesson. We had about 18 children. Since we could not do design thinking with them and they are basically fishermen, women and children, I made up a story on the way over.

“The fish who wanted to be a boy ( or girl). Each day the fish would swim and see the little boy. I want to be a boy. Catch me Catch me. Then one day the little boy caught the fish and the fish was happy. He took the fish home. Mommy cleaned me and cooked me. The boy ate me and I was happy. I was finally a boy! I gave the boy energy. I made him smart. I taught how to think and swim. We grew bigger and we lived together happily. “

Pretty good for an impromptu lesson.

We used the tablets to type and to take pictures. They drew a picture of the fish and we included it in the story. Not all finished but time was running out. Nathan was determined to make the projector I gave him work! He brought in a generator (there is no power on the island). He got that damn thing to work-talk about determined!!! We had some children connect to the tablets for presentation that I basically read. Well, tons of children swarmed the classroom. Little ones, big ones –there must have been 100 watching the big screen so we told them the story, then I turned the tablet on them and took pictures of them waving and they could see themselves on the big screen. They loved it! Very heartwarming. Now he may be able to show educational films. I will have to send him some CDs for his laptop. The zedupad will also help! I left all the colored pencils for them. They cheered. Such small things for a big impact. How do these families live? They seem content but they have nothing….

We left about 1 p.m. for the boat trek back. It was Sandra, Julius, Jannepher and me with Moses the captain.  Saraji, our trusty but always lost driver, picked us up. Back to Main St. School where the frustration again set in. We had to get to the FedEx office with the document sent by Sandra, the FedEx person from Kapala yesterday. I could not get to email----again. I have to get rid of GoDaddy or this computer. So I called Chole and he brought over a copy and left, said he would be back in a half hour to accompany me to Charles, the physical planner, where we needed to present our park design, proposal and budget. He was late, but John Iduuli came with me. We presented to Charles and one other planner who was new to me. He happened to be the planner who planted the trees and already had ideas for the park. Uh-oh. He listened intently, told us that his plan was shelved because one of the neighbors complained about having toilets across from his house (the neighboring community). Luckily our design had the toilets on the other side of the park. He will review it. Charles then took out a book with the regulation sizes of the courts we included, so some adjustments will need to be made. He seemed pleased with the children being part of the design and construction. The other guy said he would send his children to help, so I think it went pretty well. Charles will present to the rest of the committee and get back to us. We called Saraji and left. We then tried to open a bank account for the park funds. The only thing we can do is put the account in John’s name and I can be a signature agent. Limitations though. I can see the statements, deposit money but not withdraw. Only withdrawals can be made by John in person. We elected not to make it a checking account because no one accepts checks. John will meet a worker at the bank and give him cash. Best we could do because I cannot open a Ventures account unless I register as a NGO here. I thought of that once but was told I needed an office. Maybe the Kabagezi Center would work but that is for another time. Called in Chole to come quickly as we still did not get to the FedEx with our document. He came but of course, FedEX was closed. Ugggh so frustrating. Now we have to go early in the morning to there and bring the document that FedEx gives us to Centenary Bank to pay the 900.000 UGX so we can then call the Kampala FedEX to try to release the shipment. This has gone on for 10 days now and it may not arrive until after I leave!!!!! Red tape galore. Now I bet they will add a fee for storage!

Sandra’s friends from Bungoma arrived and Sandra took them around to see Jinja and spent time at the Source of the Nile. They wanted me to join them but after the happenings, I just went back to the hotel to chill out, wash my hair, eat rubber chicken, and be alone!  Internet at hotel still not working….Good night world!

 

Wednesday

Well the day of the Second Annual African Children’s Conference has arrived. We had the children come earlier to make sure we had presentations from them. We worked with some of them, gave them all lunch and started the conference at about 2:30. Even though only one parent showed (we should have notified a radio station), I gave a ppt reviewing the 2 weeks of activities. So many children presented. They showed their bookbags, their park maps and some showed WPS both as Design Thinking Presentations and the story, The Fish who wanted to be a boy. The Bungoma kids presented a poem and a powerpoint. The RUMPS girls presented. We had a farming video from the children of St. Gonzaga and a powerpoint from the Young Farmers Club of Main St. School. Omar and Patrick passed the baton from that club to their successors. We heard from the St. Francis Community Center who spoke about the problems they had cultivating their garden at school but all the lessons they learned from it. Because of the slow internet, the Scratch projects were just displayed rather than presented from the online site. The conference lasted until 5:30 – some presentations could have been shorter but all in all, it was a great success. I have lots of video footage of the presentations. You could see the confidence level rise. Next year, it will be even better.  

We came back to the hotel with the Kenya folks and had a beer and chicken on a stick. The internet at the hotel went down about 3 days ago and now they are telling us, we could buy a card. What?

Still have not heard that the shipment was released from Customs. Chole and I went to the bank this morning to pay the $300 and to FedEX and notified Sandra in Kampala FedEx that all was paid. She said she is waiting for customs, having told them I am leaving the country. If they don’t release it ASAP, I have no chance to get it before I leave. Ugggh. I just wanted to set up their Zedupads. I believer there are 12 student replacements and 17 SD cards? I don’t want to pay for something if we don’t need them. I need at least 3 of those SD card for teacher zedupads. Let’s see what tomorrow brings. BTW, tomorrow is Teacher proposal day. I told the teachers this afternoon that if they don’t show up on time, their proposal is not going to be considered. Uganda time is frustrating.

 

All in all, a lot of money seems to be spent on food and transportation. We must find a way to reach the schools without hiring busses. We had children from one school brought to another for lessons so that we could have 28 students instead of 14.  150k,000 each day- so that was about 50 times 6 days. Food was about 50,000 a day for the children times 7. Conference bussing was 160000. That bussing got expensive over time. Then we needed drivers to take us there and pick us up each day. The teacher training needed food at about 86500 a day and 150,000 for the cook. Back and forth from Kampala was about 200,000 for the ministry meeting. Getting me in Kampala and then to Jinja was 270,000 and getting from airport was about 200,000. Hotel in Kampala was about 160,000 and in jinja 100000 a night. Various meals for me and Sandra and sometimes others. Supplies- papers, pens etc. It all added up.  Next year, no transporting of children except for conference. No food for children because we will just go to their schools. We will have to pay for teachers food when they come on their own to training.

Getting to airport 100

Excess baggage 75

Visas 100

Payment for Kenneth jewelry 200

Food in Kampala 100

Rides in Kampala and to Jinja 160

Money the bank would not take 200

Phone and minutes 30

_______1000___________

Running Chole and Julius 25

Transporting children 50 X 6= 300

Food for children 16 x 6 100

Food for teachers 30 x 5  150

Cook 50

Supplies

Transportation for us every day 10 x 17  170

Phone minutes 50

Food for us 15 x 17  250

Hotspot minutes 20

 

_______1100_________________________

Computer repair 100

Conference Transportation 50

Conference Food- children

Still have 200

Hotel Jinja City 17 x 30  510 of which 150 was already paid from home

Taxes for shipment 300 extra withdrawal from Ventures account

 

Thursday

Very busy day, just one more to go! Teachers submitted proposals for funding. Still have not gotten the shipment from Zambia. Boy, did I rant and rave. We went to yet another agent and were told that if I slipped the customs guy 50.000 Ugx the package would be released and on its way. I REFUSED on principle saying I would not encourage the corruption that is keeping this country behind. Sooo frustrating! All I can say is that somehow the Zambians might have a better shot at it because they are Africans but I doubt it based on how the Ministry reacted to Zambian curriculum. I am leaving Chole to handle it. Today was my mean day. The teachers never arrive on time. We are talking an hour or two late. I had announced yesterday that I would not listen to any proposals if the teachers were not there on time. I held to it. Some may not be happy. I said I would think about it in a month and they would learn to change their behavior if they wanted my support. Meanie, right?

The proposals that were presented on time were good. A little heavy on the agriculture side . There were 12 and I approved them all. Then about 3 or 4 came in late and then another 3 were added to the list by the teachers who were there but the proposals were from teachers who were not there at all. There was some lying going on because I asked if anyone had seen those teachers and 1 or 2 said yes, but I did not see them and neither did Jannepher and at least one other teacher.

Afterwards, Jannepher and Rose walked me through town and we bought a sewing machine for Rose’s RUMPS project. She will share Esther’s money for fabric and Esther will share in the sewing machine. Then we looked for pvc for the hydroponics project. Found a nice young man at the plumbing shop who cut the pipes, and cleaned them, glued the elbows as directed – all for 17000 ugx. Then we left the pipes there so they could provide the holes. They didn’t use the drill bit but rather heated a pipe and made the right sized holes. Wow, the project is taking shape! Then I went out to eat with Chole and Julius at Park Villa

Friday

Went to dfcu bank to see if I could get the login info. John was supposed to meet me – no show. He called later and I said “too late”. Apparently he was called to conduct an assembly but he should have called and I told him so. Anyway, no log in yet. Coming in mail if I could ever get email. Have to get rid of godaddy- does not load!!!!! Then I met Rose and Jannepher who were ON TIME and we proceeded to look for a pump for the hydroponics. Walked all over. Ended up buying a water filtering appliance for 100.000 UGX. That will save us on water and plastic for meetings.  We were excited. Had the store clerk assemble it and we carried it out. Then we went back to pick up the hydroponics set up, looked all over for a pump. Not to be found in Jinja but we got two addresses in Kampala that might have it. We bought buckets to collect rain water for the drinking water and for the hydroponics project. Nice day.

Then I went back to the Kabagezi Center to collect faulty tablets to take home, went to the scanning place and photocopying place to get Namate’s notes to her (she left them behind) and copy the FedEX documents we had so I might be able to follow up at home. Took quite some time. Back to Kabagezi, took Julius shopping with me for a backpack. We enjoyed a smoothie and guess what, we looked for another hotel. Turns out the Space Café on Lubas Road has rooms! And half the price but without breakfast 50000 a night for 2 beds and a sitting room, nice bathroom too. And the garden is downstairs, movies on Fridays and great fast Internet. Can’t wait for next year…..well yeah, I can wait. Then Chole and Julius and I had a drink at the hotel, paid the bill, gave Chole a tablet for his daughter, took a cold shower, washed my hair, packed my bags and wrote this. Good bye Jinja City Hotel. Leaving in the morning for Kambogo for appointment with Matthias from NCDC and Kampala for pump and airport!

 

Saturday

Early we rise to set off for Kambogo to see the representative from NCDC, the curriculum creators for Uganda. What a nice visit. I reviewed the Design Thinking ppt and all the projects we started. Mathias was so supported and understood well the dilemma of presenting to the Ministry. He explained that the Ministry are just coming off a bad experience with the “bridge?” people who attempted to bring some sort of innovation to Uganda but that changed their approach and pushed an “agenda” instead. So, understandably, they were cautious about my motives. He recommended forming an alliance with NCDC first by letter, explaining our approach and asking for support. Once he approves that, he will help me compose the concept note to the Ministry. There is a protocol, which I am very willing to accommodate but finding the path has been challenging. You see, I have been presenting to NCDC and the Ministry but apparently, my contacts were not THE contacts I needed to make.

Leaving there happily, I decided to visit the American Embassy to voice a “complaint” against the Customs people who have been holding up the FedEx shipment of the Zedupads from Zambia. Unfortunately, though it was wonderful to hear a couple of Americans speak, the offices were closed. Susie recommended I come back during the week. Well, I am leaving today, so that won’t work. I met up with my second driver, Jude, and Kenneth who would take me to the airport. We transferred the luggage, bid farewell to Chole and Saraji (driver) and set off. Again, in an effort to release that package, I decided to stop by Customs near Entebbe. We found Ronnie who took my info and went inside. He came back and said the shipment would be released Monday and gave me the name of the head customs person,  Badru. This remains to be seen!

Sent that info to Chole and the Zambia people….

Off to the lakeside restaurant with Kenneth and Jude. Had to keep them to a budget of 100,000 UGX for our dinner. Food is a major request, it seems. We did well and I was dropped at the airport too early but I was really OK with that, knowing I was finally on my way. Met a few other volunteers. The Operation Renewal Hope Group is a collection of Doctors, dentists and health workers who visit 3rd world countries and set up weekly health clinics. Soooo nice, they rise at 5 a.m. travel to a site, and stay til 8 or9 p.m. every day for a week, only to make the loooong trek home to all parts of the US and return to their full time jobs. My seat mate, a retired military man, has been doing that for 26 years once a year. The group sends representatives 4 times a year. Some people are remarkable. I am going to look them up.