Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Uganda Musings

Never fear, my husband's short lived bachelor days are over! I'm back from the land of mosquitoes, red dirt, and monkeys. All in all, it was a fantastic trip. I had almost forgotten what jet lag was like and then it was so kind to remind me. Suffering through, but I think I’ll make it.

We were able to see so much in such a short time! First there was the soccer tournament. It was so fun to see the culmination of something that had been in the works for so long. Essentially, each community who had a team in the tournament needed to implement key sanitation and hygiene elements in their community. It was fun to hear stories about guys in their 20s who became advocates for latrines for every household! Awesome. We were also able to see some water projects and visit some areas where projects will begin shortly. My favorite part was when we visited a community that sang for us with thumb pianos and big drums about how thankful they were for sanitation and hygiene education. Someone said to me later, “They have tasted the goodness of sanitation and hygiene.” How true it is. 

Here are just a couple pictures.

These kids go to a school in a community called Otongo. Our partner repaired this pump which had been broken for five years!

Meet Beatrice. She lives in a community called Adw (ah do). The hand pump that her community relied on broke a few months ago, so she is forced to use this polluted spring for her water. Can you imagine? I was told the pump broke from lack of maintenance, which comes from a lack of funds. Apparently, the people in this community have prioritized food and shelter over water. I can hardly imagine making a choice like that. They have recently returned from an IDP camp due to insurgency in the area. I was told they've only been back for about a year. 
The countryside is beautiful and the people are so kind and welcoming. I am so thankful that I got to go! 


Kate said...

I am sorry to leave a random comment on your blog from someone you don't know, just not sure how to send you a message any other way - I am new to blogging! So as a stranger, let me introduce myself - my name is Kate and I was just in Malawi this spring working on a research project for my Master's. Before I went to Malawi I actually saw a documentary dealing with water access at the DC Environmental Film festival and I connected with the producer because she had filmed most of it in Malawi. Her documentary is on Freshwater Project - an AMAZING organization When I was in Malawi the founder and director was so kind to me and took me around to a number of rural sites where they have built latrines at schools and installed boreholes and water pumps in villages so I could see their work for my research. In addition to the installation of boreholes etc, they also assemble community boards who are responsible for raising funds and maintaining the boreholes. Part of the cost of putting in these boreholes and pumps is training of community and village members in the maintenance and repair so they can be locally run and not dependent on external assistance. Communities are involved in every step of the process (building included) so their is a real ownership over their borehole which is so important. They also put in hygiene stations and do related trainings about handwashing etc. I was so inspired by the Malawian run organization and by the documentary. I thought you might want to see the film yourself - Water First,
Lifewater International seems like a great organization (I actually found your blog just searching for clean water access NGOs) and I did not know how (or whether)Lifewater partners with local organizations. I am happy to give you any information on Freshwater Project if you are interested - it's so great to see the work you are involved with!

Carrie Squires said...

Hey Kate! Thanks for your comment. The freshwater project sounds really neat! I think it's so critical for external WASH NGOs to partner with locally run organizations. They know the best about their people, their culture, their land. Lifewater really is a training organization. We work only through local partners that we come alongside to offer WASH and technical capacity building. You should check out the website if you haven't already- I'll have to watch the documentary- it sounds really interesting! Thanks for letting me know about it!