Archive for the ‘Local News and Info’ Category

#30 – Meet Kakanyero Stephine

From Lynne:

Kakanyero Stephine with house in bgThis is Kakanyero Stephine, an almost-six-year-old who has wanted for most of his young life to go to school.  His home is in the background.  Daily he would report to the nursery school only to be turned away because he has no school fees.  for the rest of the day he would hang around the edges of the clinic where JoAnn works, silently watching the activity, and the next day he would try again.Kakanyero Stephine closeup

When Sister Hellen, joking with us, asked the boy in Acholi which of us he wanted to pay for his school fees so he could go to nursery school, he pointed to me.  The cost is 240,000 shillings (or $120.00 US), the cost of a splurge for dinner or a pair of nice shoes.

So today, March 11, Kakanyero started school.  He was required to bring a small straw broom and a large roll of toilet paper for his first day, which he did.

#29 – A special thanks to Lynne and Jim

From Sister JoAnn Geary, CSJ, Gulu:

What a joy it has been having Lynne and Jim with us. And let me tell you they were serious about working – and work they did. As you have probably gathered by now, to accomplish anything here is quite labor-intensive. The tools are very primitive, but they both dug in and were elbow-to-elbow with the guys. The manual labor and the intense heat brought them home exhausted but they recovered amazingly well and were ready to go again in a short time.

On the last working day they provided the food for the morning tea break. Lynne boiled 20 eggs and ordered 30 chapatis from Alice (chapatis are  a tasty flatbread). Alice has a little lean-to down the road, and rumor has it that she makes the best!

They also had something for every one of the workers – they had loaded their suitcases with builder goodies. The guys just loved having them and were thrilled with their gifts. They want to know when they are coming back – me too!

More than anything, I think their presence really boosted the morale of the group. The workers felt proud to be on the job. To have Lynne and Jim from the United States come to work with them  was just the greatest. A job well done on many levels – Apwoyo matek! Many many thanks!

Before Jim left we went on safari to one of the national parks. We saw great wildlife including lions. What a thrill – generally they are very difficult to find – but there they were up close and personal.

After seeing Jim off we headed back to Gulu which only takes about 4-5 hours now instead of the 8-9 when we first came. The roads are really improving!

It has been so special to have Lynne here to experience and share in my life here in Gulu – to see the clinic, meet my co-workers, meet the sisters who have been so welcoming and all the friends we’ve made. We had a very festive African meal with Sister Hellen and the sisters at St. Mauritz where I work. They really rolled out the red carpet!

We took some great walks to town and the market which is very interesting and unique. After walking to town, which took about one and a half hours the 1st time, we took a bota-bota home.  A bota-bota is a motorcycle for taxi – my first! But not alone – Lynne squeezed on with me. The next day I graduated and went by myself!

Will wonders ever cease.

Lynne M. Cooper and Sister JoAnn Geary, CSJ in Gulu

Lynne (left) and JoAnn (right) together in Uganda

All in all I feel very blessed for and grateful to Lynne and Jim.

I hope their time here was as special and  meaningful to them as it was to me.

#27 – Life in Gulu: meals, ants and the circle of life

From Lynne:

Electricity is a luxury, here, and we eat many meals by candlelight.

place setting around table in Uganda

One of our many electricity-free meals!

The landscape is dotted with huge anthills up to 6 feet high and equally as wide.

giant anthill

A huge anthill!

At a certain time of the year they are invaded by people who like to eat them. We notice that their wings have gone from about a half an inch since we got her to a couple of inches long.

A cemetary adjoining our yard holds the remains of many of the medical workers who cared for people during the 2003 Ebola outbreak, when the case-fatality rate rose to an all-time high of 90%.

cemetery yard in Gulu

#26 – Construction update

From Lynne:

The work around here goes smoothly, and it is interesting to see how the builders perform their craft.

builders working inside

Workers plastering ceilings with cement mixture

Walls inside and out get the same treatment, and thousands of wheelbarrows of a cement/plaster mixture are mixed by hand and carried in.

The Sisters of St. Joseph do a lot of great work, some of which includes funding, like for this clinic:

CSJ Sponsored clinic

#21 – Mudslide in Uganda

There has been a serious mudslide in far eastern Uganda.  The mudslide has taken place near the border of Uganda and Kenya at Mt. Elgon in the Bududa district.  This is roughly 180 miles from where Lynne currently resides, so she is fine.

Ugandan mudslide location v. Gulu - 180 miles apartCaused by heavy rains, some think the mudslides were exacerbated by farmers who stripped the land of many trees and vegetation.

There is not much aid for people living in there, so please keep the people in your thoughts and prayers.

#19 – Goin’ to the chapel

From Lynne:

Going down the road the other day we were surprised by a wedding party heading toward the cathedral!

The procession for an Acholi wedding marching down the road

A beautiful bride leads the procession of an Acholi weddingStylin!

#16 – Welcome to St. Moritz

From Lynne:

Welcome to the kitchen of the primary school at St. Moritz, and meet some of the children who study there.

St. Moritz school children

Bridget is the imp on the front left

nursery and playground at St. Moritz

The nursery school and playground at St. Moritz

The children are delighted to have their pictures taken and want to see the result on the digital screen. As school terms begin now, everyone is scrambling for school fees, and people ask us on the road to help send their children. My brother-in-law received a letter from the gateman where we stay passionately requesting help.

The schools were started by missionaries who still staff some of them. Yet control has been taken over by the government which does everything but provide funding. Teachers have not been paid for months, and understandably, some show up and some do not.  The cooks bake cupcakes and are very proud of their stove which is a charcoal fire box. They drag limbs and pieces of trees in and chop them themselves to make charcoal.

Cooks at St. MoritzThe sisters we stay with sponsor about 30 children at an average of $200 US each, often including room and board. We are well  in a district with lots of schools, so we see the children, all in bright uniforms identifying their school, everywhere. Day students go home for lunch, carrying their shoes for the journey to avoid wearing them out. Resident students wash their clothes in plastic tubs (just like we do!) and lay them across bushes  and off of small trees to dry. No books, no paper, no pens, so everything is by memorization.

Here is the scale for weighing babies and toddlers  at the entrance to JoAnn’s clinic at St Moritz:

scale for weighing babies at St. MoritzThis place has no electric and no running water. They did have lights once, but the solar panels were stolen, and they do have a bore hole (well), but the water is bad—they are not sure why. So, like everyone else, they work during the day and carry water when they need it.

Jim, Sister Helen and JoAnn at St. Moritz
Jim, Sister Helen and JoAnn smiling together at St. Moritz

Sister Helen is a midwife, and they are hoping to build a birthing center. (Frank, this may be the one!) JoAnn sees up to 50 patients a day, usually pediatrics and adult onset diabetes. Everybody, including us, eats too many carbs to fill up. And yes, JoAnn has discussed the diabetes with Sister Helen.