I want to keep you up to date on what is happening in Gulu and our projects there. All is going pretty well but I’ll give you some specifics and some generalities, too. Aid Africa has been in the villages every day now for more than six years. We’ve saved tens of thousands of lives and helped hundreds of thousands live better lives. Let’s keep it up. No – let’s do even more!
First the great news. Our manager Ovola George has graduated in his course of International Leadership from Makarere University and he attended his graduation in Kampala October 20th. Congratulations to him.
Overall, things are getting along well.
Today, Monday, October 21st , we assembled more than 60 stoves in the community of Suda near Opit – northeast of Gulu.
Many of our stoves at Lacor Hospital are worn out and need to be replaced. They get used very hard there because they are used by caregivers who are unfamiliar with the Rocket Stoves. Every patient has to bring his or her own caregiver because nurses there don’t have time for feeding, bathing, etc. for the approximately 1500 patients a day they have. So every day we have new users. I’m pretty sure not many (or any) know how to use a Rocket Stove, so we hire Monica as a stove promoter there to show the women how to use our stoves. They get used hard. They’ve been there a couple of years and that’s a pretty good lifespan, considering. Monica also runs a small shop inside the hospital grounds that sells essentials for cooking and hygiene for all the visitors.
We have in inventory now about 25 of our commercial stoves – a little slow on the production side so far. They are the ones we hope to sell in town to make a little money for operations. Issa is going to experiment on how to make a better way to change our efficient wood-burning stove into an efficient charcoal stove. We have a metal stand right now for the charcoal grate that will burn up over time. Issa wants to find a way to make a ceramic grate that won’t burn up. I’ll keep you posted on that.
We are changing our brick design so that we don’t have the half brick sitting on notched bricks. Our friends John and Flip Anderson in Corvallis, Oregon showed us an easier way. Just move the opening for firewood onto the corner with notches at the bottom to make the opening for fuel. No half brick! So we’ll use up our inventory of the old style and start laying the new style bricks very soon. The dry season starts in November and goes to the end of March. During that time we should make lots of bricks to get us through the whole year because they’ll dry faster than when it rains every day. We’ll hire probably four men temporarily thru the dry season from the community because they won’t be going to their fields every day. That’s George’s idea.
We have done a couple of water boiling tests on our older stoves in the villages to see if they stay efficient over time. Some of our stoves are approaching five years of use. Preliminary results show they are just as efficient if not more so than our new stoves. But we need to see more testing.
We’ve been waiting for the Uganda Carbon Bureau to tell us how to affix serial numbers to our stoves – a U.N. requirement for carbon credits. Numbers can’t be put directly on the mud stoves because they won’t stay and they’ll get covered up when the stove gets remudded every few weeks. I thought about painting the number on the hut’s door, but the U.N. doesn’t like that idea. I think putting the number on the wall is an equally bad idea because it’s not going to stay for many years. However, we have a definitive answer from the Bureau that we should use 2-inch nails to attach a metal tag to the wall near the stove. I’ve decided to do whatever they say. I’m tired of arguing.
The Carbon Bureau is supposed to be working on funds through crowdsourcing to get us funds for inclusion costs amounting to several thousand dollars. We’ll also be applying for additional staff, computers and vehicles. I’m not holding my breath, though.
We repaired two boreholes last week – that’s repairing a broken pump in a rural community. One in Cet Kana an the other in Bungatira. And we’ve been documenting with a GPS every water project we’ve ever done so we can show people what we’ve done and where.
We sheltered a spring in Lugumu and dug a well in Gwengdiya last month. Both are working successfully.
I’ve spoken with George and Lilly about doubling our fruit tree output next year. In 2013 we distributed about 30,000 trees including Valencia oranges, avocados, mangoes, jack fruit and cherimoyas (or custard apples). They’ve bought the black soil (loam) and the plastic bags we use for growing our seedlings. We’ll buy seeds within the next few weeks. Let’s try for 60,000!
We are re-working our de-worming project. Many people get worms mostly from drinking unclean water. The worms take the nutrients out of the food the people eat. Children especially are affected. With less nutrition, they are smaller and weaker, less alert and more vulnerable to diseases. A dose is one pill that costs about 12¢, has no side effects and is good for children and adults. Ideally, it should be administered every six months.
We were distributing pills at community health centers, but the number of people was small. So now we will work at primary schools where we can find as many as a thousand children at a time. At Monroc Primary, there are about 230 children just in P1 (kindergarten age). Actually, we’ll give the pills to students, teachers, parents and their younger children not yet in school. That means we’ll have to step up our supply of drugs because we bought just 1500 doses. We work with another organization, PACHEDO, on this project. They send a doctor along with us so that we aren’t distributing drugs without a prescription.
We started our Ugandan audit in February. We’ve had some procedural hiccups but we might have the final report in a couple of weeks – in November. Maybe next year we can get it in a more timely manner.
There are dozens of personal stories I’d like to tell you, but I’ll keep my report short. Well, just a check-in on Freda our very first staff Ken hired. She has been off work since February with TB in her bones and depression. When Kyla and I visited her last April, she was pretty non-responsive. But we visited every day and soon she was smiling and chatting with us. Now she comes to work several days a week although she does not yet have her full strength. She’s continuing to improve and I hope she can return to full time work in January.
Thank you all for your time and support. Aid Africa is here because of you and your care. I look forward to you questions and comments.
There’s no gas, no electricity, so if this child wants to eat tonight, he’d better bring home some firewood so his mom can cook the meal.