Yesterday was a fantastic day. We started out with a visit to Rwera Secondary School. Rwera was funded by H2O partner, Deron school- thanks to the leadership of Beth Verkala! It was a breathtaking experience. It was the first time that any of us had visited a completed H2O for Life project that had our logo displayed alongside of the Africare logo. (in-country NGO) The latrines and water sources were well done, and working! Rwera was on school holiday but we were able to meet the head-master and several students who are currently working on the school grounds to raise school fees. Both children lost their parents to AIDS. They were delighted to receive a picture of the Deron students.
We then visited Muriisa Primary School. Muriisa was funded by Sweet Grass High School in Montana. (special thanks to Austin Alexander for her leadership!) We viewed (and used) the completed VIP latrines and the private changing area set aside for girls. We had a chance to check out the old latrines as well, and believe me their is a HUGE difference in the experience! The ventilated pit latrines are awesome. There were over 100 students that came back to the school to be part of a welcoming program. (ALL schools in this area are currently on holiday) The students sang and danced, recited poems about water and were very proud to show off their talents.
On our way to the next school we visited a community cooperative that produces dried bananas for export.We watched the process from start to finish including sampling the final product. The bananas were delicious. All proceeds from the cooperative are used to support the Africare Orphan Fund Project. From what we saw, the support is helping tremendously.
Kagamba School, sponsored by Irondale High School in MN (thanks to Joe Helm, Scott Hall and special thanks to Megan Peterson) was the next school on our journey. We visiyed the hand dug well that was equipped with a U3pump. It was fantastic! VIP latrines were also newly contructed. The Kagamba students were still IN session! They heard that H2O for Life was coming to visit and delayed their holiday! I can imagine students around the U.S. cringing when they hear this. The kids seemed delighted to be there. Again, we were treated to beautiful music and dancing and even a short drama presentation about the problems caused by AIDS. The students presented hand made woven bowls to each of us. The bowls are ceremonial and we will treasure them.
Our final school visit of the day was to Mutanoga Primary School. This project was funded by Gayman Elementary School under the leadership of Principal Brian Finger. The Mutanoga students liked all the photos and school items sent by Gayman. The rainwater catchment tank is completed and awaiting the "rains" which are do very shortly. Students presented us with woven containers that are used to catch "mudfish" in nearby ponds and rivers. They also presented letters to be delivered to Gaymen Elementary, and a beautiful woven bowl filled with the local cash crop- bananas. As we had now been on the road since 8am- and it was now 5:30- the bananas were quickly eaten by everyone!
We had the opportunity to interview several students about their daily life in Uganda. In this area we found that there are many children that are orphans due to AIDS. They all mentioned that school was their place of refuge.
The common thread of the day was this:
The building of "Wash in Schools" projects providing water, latrines and hand washing facilities IS making a tremendous difference in the lives of children. We saw proof in the over 3000 students served by the four schools we visited today.
More school visits tomorrow!