I just got back a few weeks ago from a month in Uganda, where a lot of great things happened. So much, in fact, that for those of you who’ve seen me and asked, “how was the Uganda trip?”, you probably noticed a blank stare on my face. That’s because it’s hard to know how to give a simple answer to a question like that.
The short answer is – people living in severe poverty got free medical care and free education. That’s what we do over there in Uganda, but the long answer is more complicated.
If there was one word that I could use to describe how this trip was different than my previous four trips, I’d say “infrastructure.” Or maybe, “generator.” Or if I could be allowed to use three words – “stuff kept breaking.”
Loving One by One owns a dozen or so acres of land, and on that land we have three houses, a school and a medical clinic. By “medical clinic,” I mean a 24/7 mini hospital that has become pretty busy. All these buildings require water and electricity, and that’s accomplished by a combination of the public power grid, plus our own solar power systems, plus a generator that theoretically runs occasionally to keep things charged up. On my first day in Uganda, the generator broke and was determined to be unrepairable, so we were thankfully able to purchase a new generator. And that’s where so many other problems began – the new generator wasn’t really new, there were problems with the installation, as well as with some of the parts being poorly designed…. you name it, and it happened, and almost every day for four weeks there were problems related to the generator.
You know what the problem is with generators and other infrastructure things (submersible pumps for wells, solar power batteries, water storage tanks, vehicles, etc)? They’re not as cute as little Ugandan kids old Ugandan women. Let me illustrate with a few photos below…
So we have a cute little Ugandan girl leaning on a tree, trying to figure out what the crazy Mzungu (me) is doing pointing his phone at her. What a great face! Then, there’s a little boy with the severely bent right leg, but a great smile, the kind of smile that makes you want to say, “Yes, by golly, I’ll sponsor that kid’s leg surgery!” Finally, a cute little old Ugandan woman, trying on reading glasses, with a smile beginning to form on her face because she can make out the letters on the page. These people have a high cute factor.
And if I may be blunt – High Cute Factor = High Donation Factor. Thankfully, generous people are moved by images of children and elderly people, and they want to contribute. And we’re thankful for that.
However, by contrast, check out these photos….
First, we have a water truck, in the middle of the night, delivering thousands of liters of water to some of our water tanks – a delivery that had to happen many times, because the generator and/or the submersible pump weren’t doing their job and pumping water properly. Speaking of water tanks, the second photo features three water tanks, up against a lovely cloudy sky, with Ken on a hammock below. Don’t make a big deal out of the hammock – Ken was hardly ever actually in the hammock while I was in Uganda, because most of his time was spent dealing with getting water into those (and other) water tanks. Not an easy task, when your generator and/or submersible pump aren’t doing their job. We currently urgently need to add another 10,000 liter tank (or two) to our system.
Next, we have the “new” generator, which was a costly but extremely necessary expense. Costly, because as I mentioned earlier, it took almost the entire four weeks I was there to get it working right. Happily, it finally seems to be doing its job. Finally, we have a Toyota truck, known in Africa as a “Townace.” We are beginning to feel the need for a Townace truck because of the considerable maintenance issues on and around our 12 acres. There’s always something to pick up or deliver, and the excess load is becoming too much for our current van.
Infrastructure photos don’t have a High Cute Factor; therefore, most people don’t get excited about a photo of a generator and reach for their wallets to contribute.
Amazing things have been happening in Uganda through the work for Loving One by One for over 15 years, and we’re not finished! However, we have grown very rapidly, and that expansion has required buildings and equipment – at a cost.
If you would like to help Loving One by One continue to grow and expand our effectiveness in Uganda, and if you can understand the importance of boring things like generators, water tanks and trucks – then please consider going to Loving One by One’s website and making a contribution. You can specify “infrastructure.” Or, if you’d like to have a conversation about specific infrastructure needs, contact me and we’ll set it up.