January 14-15 was spent in transit. We had a wonderfully uneventful series of trips, with one glitch. The leg from Atlanta to Amsterdam started off great, but at take-off the entertainment system took a nap, refusing to wake up for the entire 8 hour journey. Fortunately, our KLM flight from Amsterdam to Kigali to Entebbe had a more motivated movie-watching system. I highly recommend Victoria and Abdul, A Mountain Between Us, and Battle of the Sexes, all great stories.
We arrived in Entebbe, Uganda and flew through immigration. For the six of us, we used six rolling carts to pile 12 pieces of luggage and 13 backpacks to breeze through customs. In the luggage were four very expensive ultrasound machines, 200 water filters, and all of our personal items for the trip–we were sure customs officials would have some questions for us (and we were ready for the questions, armed with letters and documentation to ease the process). This time the angels were with us, and not a single piece was opened. We rolled out of the airport, where Father George Ssemmombwe was waiting for us with both the 15 passenger school van and a truck. We checked in to the nearby Ulrika Guest House, and tried to sleep.
January 16 at breakfast I met with Sister Maria Goretti, of the order of sisters who run the guest house and the Cabana Restaurant next door. Sr. Maria proposed a microfinancing project that involves training 111 women, and then 111 more by year’s end. The training would include organic farming, animal husbandry, utilizing a demonstration garden to learn the latest techniques to maximize yields, and teaching the participants strong habits of record keeping and impact reporting. This is at the proposal stage but seems very much in line with the mission of MPA.
After breakfast, we discovered that the school van had developed a flat tire. “Slowly by slowly,” Father George oversaw the repair, and we arrived at Broader Vision School, which was founded by Fr. George. The children are not there during the break–they return on February 14. We toured many construction projects underway. The back stairwell should be finished before the children return. In the office, we met a Ugandan family that had adopted three orphans and were enrolling them in kindergarten at Broader Vision. As we talked with the parents, two of our MPA group offer, ON THE SPOT, to fund scholarships for the three orphans, not just for kindergarten, but for every year through secondary school. What a miracle. Hugs and tears all around.
The Arnoldy Guest House being built on the grounds at Broader Vision as a supplemental income project to sustain the school is well underway. Fr. George estimates that they should be completed by July.
We then drove into Kampala and met Sarah Ndibizza who has started Good Seed Pharmacy, a small project to generate income for mothers of children with Down’s. Sarah and the women are saving money to be able to afford a pharmacist to come twice per week to write prescriptions. It is a slow process, but they are determined. They are also working hard to build up their inventory. Right now, if you are looking for bandaids, they have one tin. If you need a bottle of skin lotion, they have one bottle. But it is a start, and the pharmacy, which Sarah managed construction of, is tidy, clean, and well organized. Sarah has also started a home for the mothers to live in while they work at the pharmacy, but it was too far away to visit on this trip.