Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Workers in their new vests
Temporary building on the far left beside the small kitchen huts, the brick making tent in the middle and the second building lines are strung out on the right
Since our last post, Nat and I have traveled to Kampala to pickup Bill, Kathy and Cam. We spent a couple days gathering extra tools and equipment before touring the city a bit with Cam. On Sunday we drove back to Bwera by the southern route passing through Mbarara. The southern route is a great way to arrive into Kasese District since you have to pass through the Rift Valley and Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Elections are in February and posters cover everything in Kampala
A woman walks through the streets of Kampala

The road through Queen Elizabeth National Park meets the foothills of the Rwenzori Mountains and Bwera
Baboon on the side of the road

Elephants and a rainstorm in the distance
Cam with elephants in the distance
Bill and Kathy

Peter shoots elephants from the roof

Upon our arrival we were greeted by many students, music and dancing. Unfortunately, darkness fell and the rain started moments after we arrived but that did not stop the party. Students crammed themselves under a tarp, huddled around a CD player, electric piano and some soundboards, “shaking their bones” to popular Ugandan favorites. Eventually the students were extricated from the tarp-party and joined us in watching a fantastic performance by the cultural drama group. It was a wonderful arrival.
Party under the tarp
John dancing under the tarp with the students

Drama group performs cultural dances in the rain and mud

Dancers pull faces during the traditional dance
We are trying to balance many factors during the construction and, although the construction is going well, we have had some issues. We want the building(s) to go up quickly, we want to use local labour and we want to be respectful of local relationships and culture. We have had some problems as a result of hiring the five guys from Kampala. Although they generally work much harder and are far more skilled, they are not trusted by the local workers in Bwera because they are of a different tribe. We have also had some problems resulting from Cobra Association’s obligation to use certain businesses for construction materials and subcontracting. For example, the metal door fabricator had helped Cobra in the past with other projects so it was important to have him make the doors – he did a very poor job. However, despite problems like these, we are ahead of schedule.

Kids inspect the progress
Snow is visible in the distant mountains
John and Jill left yesterday. On their last night we did a taste test - Vic Gin vs. banana spirit made locally.

Yesterday was an exciting day at the school. It collapsed. It happened in the afternoon during a final physics exam (we suspect some of the students may have been wishing for something like that to occur at the time!). The temporary building was packed and students were likely leaning on some of the old supports. Fortunately and amazingly, none of the students were seriously injured – just some minor cuts and bruises. Nat and I funded the construction of the temporary building during the summer of 2007 but nothing had been done for the structure since that time. It was surprising that it did not come down in one of the more violent windstorms that punish the tents most evenings. Luckily, the students only have a few more days of exams before they are on holidays until February. We are going to push to get a third classroom completed before their return. We have set up the classrooms under our building shelters to keep the kids out of the sun while they complete their last few days of exams.

Before collapse
After collapse

Amazing that nobody was seriously hurt

Tests are now conducted outdoors

1 comment:

  1. Looking great you guys! Wow I can't believe that no one was hurt in the collapse! Glad to hear that... I just sent Simon on his way to Holland yesterday. Nice van you have there! As usual, stunning photos. I look forward to future updates. :)

    Steve Intrinsic