Quality Chemical makes more news

The first African company to make malaria medication and ARV’s, Quality Chemical Industries was highlighted in a blog post on ONE today.

When I visited the company on my trip to Uganda in June of 2008, the finishing touches were being made to the plant. It was great to read that the company is in production now.

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Ugandans to receive free mosquito nets

I read today that the Ugandan government is getting bed nets out to the entire population. What great news! I wondered though why all of them are being imported. I know they’ve got factories for making some of their own.

http://www.one.org/blog/2009/06/24/all-ugandans-to-receive-free-mosquito-nets/span>

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Just like being there

This fall the Uganda traveling crew went “on the road” with the long version of our film. Now that the bulk of the presentations are done, I’ve shared the film (it’s in two parts because only 10 minutes of footage is allowed for free) on You Tube.   Thanks to the entire crew for a job well done!  Special thanks to Stuart Hall librarian and friend, Sheila Chatterje for editing the safari piece.  Highlights include Dominic and Graham attempts at using a nature-made toy, Sr. Hilda visiting her village after being gone for more than two years and a hippo showing dominance over the animal kingdom.

Part I

Part 2

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Reflecting some more about the trip

We’ve slowly been putting together the 7 hours of video and thousands of photos.  Our first presentation and video was to Stuart Hall for Boys.  They (and Convent Elementary School) helped us a lot last spring with The Pinewood Derby fundraiser.  The Pinewood Derby portion of this movie was made by Alex Lee.  Sergio, Graham and Eugene helped with the Uganda piece.

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Update about the wall

My travel partner Sergio just got this photo from one of the guys we met in Uganda. Sergio emailed our four-school faculty community in San Francisco about the progress. Here’s what Sergio had to say:

Dear Sacred Heart family, I’m excited to share with you a recent photo sent to me by one of our friends in Uganda. Kevin was one of our “teachers” who taught us how to mix mortar and lay brick. He was like the foreman who worked on the wall building project in Wanyange. As you can see, not only is the wall nearly finished (with the exception of the guard house that is yet to be built), but the land around it has been cleared and plowed. We hope to help the RSCJ sisters plant sugar cane and raise pigs to make use of the land and bring in some money while we partner with them and explore possibilities (including green corporate sponsors) to move the project forward into the next phase. It’s been fun sharing the pictures and videos with so many of you and making the “rounds” to the different schools to thank everyone for their help in making this all possible. We had an opportunity to speak the SHB middle form this morning and invited them at the end to think about what we might be able to do to continue to help our Sacred Heart relatives in Uganda. It was moving to hear three of our SHHS students share with their “little brothers” their deepened sense of being part of a larger Sacred Heart family. Both Lori and I are very proud to have been a part of this process and thank all of you for your support. We look forward to brainstorming what we might be able to do together to finish phase one of our mission- ideas are welcome! Enjoy the pictures. Peace and Blessings!

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Still blogging from Uganda

No. I didn’t go back already.

While I was at Kalungu Girls Training Center, I did meet Nsaale, the school’s technology teacher. I showed him our blog and he immediately wanted to know how make his own. I spent about 15 minutes showing him the basics. Now they’ve got their own blog.

http://kalungugtc.wordpress.com/

This morning he and I chatted over Skype. He wanted to know how to best upload photos. Very soon, we’ll have photos to see.

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Reflection

If you make it to the end of this long reflection, there’s a link to another set of photos.

I recently read an email from a friend of a friend who was in Tanzania for a month. Her experience was in some ways similar to mine – living conditions were simple, sanitation always a concern, getting to know people was interesting and immersing oneself in the environment just plain out fascinating. What was different though was the fact that her roommate contracted typhoid even after being inoculated before traveling. She also volunteered in an orphanage where there were lots of sick kids and death was a daily occurrence. Was I lucky to not have experienced such horrific things or was my Africa experience not real enough?

We’ve been home a week and though I’ve not talked to all of my six fellow travelers, we all arrived back to SFO without much more than a couple of scrapes, mild sunburn and some pesty mosquito bites. Right now, no news is good news. Between the seven of us we probably had 40 shots of things before we traveled to keep us well. Every morning we reminded each other to take our anti-malaria meds and we (Sergio and I) always had anti-bacterial ready to squirt into somebody’s hand. More importantly though, our friend Hilda made sure that we’d have a rich experience visiting Africa but keep us safe so that we’d return with fascinating stories not ones of horror. Since our group was the first US based Sacred Heart group to do a big service project while in Uganda, the success of the trip relied on staying safe. We were so fortunate to have the love and care of the Sacred Heart sisters, the RSCJ. We had good food to eat, carefully boiled water to drink and clean, comfortable places to rest every night. I do not want to minimize the poverty that plagues much of Africa, as we did see plenty. Most of the people we encountered live hand to mouth and grow most of their own food. Many young people are striving to stay in school, as they know having an education guarantees better opportunities. We have many new friends who need help with not only school fees but basic living expenses.

One of the grittiest experiences was visiting the Mildmay Center a HIV/AIDS treatment, counseling and training establishment. It’s a UK founded center that provides excellent services to Ugandans. When we arrived, hundreds of people were sitting in a waiting room. According to our host for the visit, everyone who comes is seen and given care. HIV testing is done in plain view and ARV medication is dispensed too. Test results are given on the spot. The reason for quick results is to get the client into treatment as soon as possible. We observed some of this testing is progress. It was certainly a slice of reality looking at the concerned faces of those who were sick. The center relies heavily on funding from the Global Fund and PEPFAR. It also partners with many other organizations like TASO.

As my students and I reflected on the last night in Uganda and how the experiences we had touched them, they would have liked to seen more of typical life. Even though they were upbeat about what we had done and seen, they thought the schools, tourists sites and the safety of our accommodations were a bit limiting. Even though we did visit the streets of Jinga, Hilda’s village and the residential area around Lake Nagubago, they would have liked more freeform activities like that. The long term benefit in coming home safe with good memories makes me realize that I’m so glad about how the trip turned out. It ensures that a trip like this could happen again.

Link to the next set of photos: http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=412tnsb.a1uw17gb&x=0&y=-i8z6o&localeid=en_US

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