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Sabine Trip 2010 Videos November 5, 2010

Posted by Mike O in Charity, places.
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Raincoat distribution in Sabine:

SABINE, The Chicken Coop

Tour of the Sabina Permaculture Project

Permaculture, video 2

The Plant Nursery

The Drainage Work

Textbook Issue at the Primary School

AIDS Testing Day in Ssanje; Many thanks to Sarah October 18, 2007

Posted by Mike O in Charity, places.
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Sarah Cowan is the marvelous Peace Corps volunteer associated with the Sabine orphanage in Rakai.  Just before I left, she spoke about the need to get the family members of the kids who went to the same primary school as the orphans tested for AIDS.  A number of parents had died of unknown causes and, during previous home visits Sarah had done, brought up the issue of AIDS testing.  The families all wanted to be checked but there was no nearby location to do so.  Sarah had found out tha she could get a testing team out to the area for the cost of transport and salaries; about 100K ($60).  I threw in $100 to let her get some treats for the kids and Sarah recently pulled it off in a grand fashion.  The writeup is here.

What I did for this- in terms of supplying a bit of money- is insignificant to Sarah’s Herculean effort in pulling it off and making it a success.  Many kudos to Sarah; I wish I was a tenth the human being she is!  I am pledging to support this activity on an at least annual basis for her village of Ssanje.  Hopefully, Sarah will oversee it one more time before her Peace Corps tour is completed.

Visitor’s Village and Host Emmanuel July 25, 2007

Posted by Mike O in people, places.
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Emmanuel’s bed and breakfast is called Visitor’s Village and will always be my preferred residence in Kampala. I won’t always have the resources to stay there; while not overly pricey, it requires transport to get to the office and/or the Kiwanga orphanage. When Kiwanga gets it’s visitor’s rooms squared away, that will be my normal home to save money.

But Emmanul’s is worth every penny. He is an exceptionally gracious host and a good friend. He is very accommodating to all who come; sometimes difficult, because the craziness of volunteers, their schedules, and sometimes their culture shock makes it hard on such a host. But talking to Emmanuel is always like talking to an old friend, and he has the patience of Job with zany Mzungus (some of his guests are definitely not zany, like Kristin here).

Visitor’s Village has been a labor of love for Emmanual for 15 years; it is a phenomenally peaceful refuge from the insanity that is Kampala, with lush vegetation and a vast array of beautiful birds living in the trees. The birds are your melodious 6:30am alarm clock every morning (if you are a light sleeper like I am). Breakfast (omelets, toast, fresh fruit) is normally served on the terrace of each of the small units and is a very pleasant and relaxing way to start the morning (especially if joined by some of the great guests there).

The rooms themselves are quite comfortable and I have far less problem with mosquitoes there – despite the vegetation- than anywhere else in Uganda. With the seating areas of the larger suites, along with the small terraces, Visitor’s Village has proven to be an ideal place to have small gatherings of family and friends for a quiet time of it. The only downside is that it is too far from Kiwanga and the tasks at hand.

Rakai work July 24, 2007

Posted by Mike O in Charity, kids, places.
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Was really embarrassed to go to Rakai; I only could do 210 K (about $120) in work there and that involved paying to get most- but not all- shower room doors fixed for the boys. Pretty minor stuff. Was glad to see how much progress others had done on drainage and water retention, however. They really need an agricultural effort at Sabine; that place could not only feed itself (including chicken), but grow enough to help feed Kiwanga. It just has to be managed, the kids need to be trained and motivated.


I was left feeling worthless enough that one morning I tackled the last standing water in the compound; a big pothole at the entry to the area. Had wanted to use a wheelbarrow, but both they had were broken. So I ended up digging dirt out of a pile for that excavate for the septic tank and carrying it in a bucket up 100 yards to the pothole. Vincent Mujune, National Team leader of an AIDS outreach program called Reach the Youth, ended up pitching in on this mindless activity; when asked why by Rhita (a phenomenal young lady I’ll discuss later), I told her: ‘When you have money, you use that: when you have words and wisdom, you use that: when all else fails, you use your muscle to try to make the world a little bit better every day.” I told her to pass that on to the kids she was teaching: hopefully, the life lesson will end up being worth far more than the filled pothole.

Toward the end of the effort, Vincent pointed out that rock would stabilize the patch and we could get the young kids (who were out of school while the older ones practiced for a performance contest) to find them. I transmitted the need and within minutes, we were have to stop kids from ripping bricks out of the edging around trees. If we hadn’t got it stopped, the mob of kids would have torn down the school for rock to throw in the hole. My back pretty well gave out, but the hole was 75% filled by the time we quit, got cleaned up and got ready to go out to see the AIDS awareness program out in the country.

Kiwanga Project, 2007 July 24, 2007

Posted by Mike O in Charity, places, projects.
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I ended up funding- and working on- an extensive project at Phillip’s House for screening and addition of glass shuttered windows. Also brought a staple gun and staples that helped. Phillip’s House is home of 16 severely mentally and physically handicapped individuals and some of them are real charmers. Phillip’s House dorms have always been shuttered, making the dormitories particularly dark and stifling; this work will go a long way into improving it. But
it was expensive and made a big dent in what I was planning to spend in Rakai.

Since I was there 2 years ago, they had someone come in to work with the residents there and there has been great progress. They take care of their own laundry and do some cleaning. In fact, they were trying to stop one of the girls from doing her laundry because her hands were damaged by some small accident; she was having none of it and insisted on doing her part.

The work also covered screening the clinic; it made absolutely no sense for the clinic not to be screened; last thing a malarial patient needs is another case of malaria two weeks later. Screening the clinic also involved building out wood frames and opening panels, because the window structures were all metal and concrete. Like I said; expensive, but necessary. Got screens on in a lot of other places as well. I helped on some of it; the type of simple work the unskilled, cheap imported labor can do. I made sure Constance’s screens were up to snuff; as a Tour assistent (and one of ‘girls’), we can’t afford her to come down ill if the Tour is going to ever get going.

The medicine we brought into the clinic was put to good use; antibiotic ointment and anti-diarrhea medication was most appreciated. Could definitely use more bandaging materials, however; their ‘plaster’ tape is pretty harsh. Flex bandages would be great. I ended up playing emergency nurse one weekend; not only did one of our volunteers (Tia) have a serious reaction to a peanut dish (peanut allergies can be serious enough to be fatal), but a couple kids got some pretty seriously cut toes. Thank goodness I’d brought some Benedryl for the clinic; it’s about the only medication effective for more serious reactions like Tia’s. Gave her two as the max dose; knocked her out like a sledge hammer; 10 hours later, she awoke and was much better.