The real work begins.

Our projects are underway and going well. The team minus Dorcas and Hannah headed to Ginger Hall Primary School to meet and discuss the latrine project and other miscellaneous work. Being at the school was a fantastic experience. First we met a few school officials and visited classrooms, where dozens of cute, green-uniformed kids stood up and greeted us in unison: “Good morning friends.” “We are fine. How are you too?” All the teachers we met were friendly and happy to have us. On the blackboards, basic math, spelling lessons, and stories from the Bible.

Then we had our meeting. We had a large group on the local side: Smart Senesie, who is organizing the project, the engineer leading construction, Leonard Gbloh, the director of primary education, three head teachers, two representatives of the school in the community, and the local Methodist minister, Father Henry Macavoray. We brought a covenant with us outlining the responsibilities we expected for us and for them: in a nutshell, $18,000 from us, and a sanitary, environmentally sound latrine with a commitment to maintenance from them. The plan is to build a new building with six more stalls and reinforce the existing one (which has eight) so it doesn’t pollute the groundwater. We were thrilled with the enthusiasm from the local team and their confidence that the project could be completed within budget. We were especially happy with the commitment from the teachers and community representatives to find volunteers to provide water and soap for handwashing. We also discussed minor maintenance projects at the school for next week: fixing broken windows, adding new blackboards, fixing a handrail, getting sewing supplies, and a few others. Small projects like that are probably a better use for us than trying to help with construction.

My dad, Marilyn and I also discussed the education workshops in Yonibana, where Leonard and Jemima, one of the head teachers, will be joining us. My dad will be bringing the calculators, graph paper, and geometry supplies he brought, and it looks like I may lead a session on using poetry in the classroom.

As we left we were surrounded by crowds of excited kids, who loved touching us and having their picture taken. As we drove off they sprinted after the car. It’s going to be great working at the school  next week, and I expect to take a lot of great pictures. We had another lunch at the Crown Bakery, then headed back to the hotel with kebbeh in hand for Dorcas.

Dorcas and Hannah also had a great day. They talked to two women, Mannah and Juliet, from a group called Programme for Children, and were able to actually do their Days for Girls presentation and give kits to seven girls from a nearby orphanage. At Ginger Hall, we also spoke to a home economics teacher who was interested in Days for Girls. So it looks like Dorcas will be able to distribute all of her 200 kits and has some local interest in keeping the program running, and maybe sending a girl or two to the Days for Girls “university” in Uganda to learn how to make the kits.

It was very exciting to get these projects started and see such enthusiasm and gratitude from the locals we’re working with. At times it can feel like we’re not making any sort of dent with our work here, but Hannah gave us a great quote to keep in mind in one of her devotionals, from Ronald Reagan: “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”

At the hotel, we hung out in the courtyard, where Dorcas got her hair braided by one of the hotel staff. Emily and John returned from a visit to Rotifunk with Dr. Gess, and we had groundnut (peanut) stew, then played some Oh Hell and a round of the name game (both old Bradford traditions) after dinner.

This morning, the education team heads to Yonibana for the week and then Bo and Manjama for the weekend, so I may not have Internet access for several days. Pictures are still not cooperating on the blog, but if you want to see a few from Ginger Hall you can find some on my Instagram. Goodbye for now!

– Luke

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