Saturday, January 20, 2007

Going Back to Uganda

In late May, I plan to return to Uganda in conjunction with two charitable efforts; Children of Uganda ( ), which cares for 700 orphans, and MADEUganda (, an organization that employs the disabled to build wheelchairs for the disabled. Naturally, I will be visiting my ‘daughter’ Winnie ( as well.

I learned a lot on my first visit (which the Children of Uganda staff told me was highly useful) in 2005, so I hope to be even more productive this time around. I will have multiple goals while there, the primary one being to try to alleviate some of the power problems of both MADEUganda and the rural orphanage in Rakai that the Children of Uganda maintain.

In Rakai, the only power currently available is from a small solar panel array, but it provides only enough power to light a handful of 15 watt lights. Even these lights are unavailable through most of the rainy season and, when available, certainly don’t provide enough illumination to allow the children to study after sunset. Can you imagine how difficult it would be for your own children to do well in school if all schoolwork had to be done by 6:30pm (along with all personal a group chores, which are considerable)? I am hoping to accumulate enough money personally to obtain a small generator; any personal donations I receive toward this effort will either allow us to get a more appropriately sized generator or will help provide a stock supply of fuel (Gas costs over twice there than it does here).

The MADEUganda people have a similar problem, but theirs is because of the extreme unreliability of power in Kampala; that capital is heavily reliant on hydroelectric power from Lake Victoria and a multi-year drought has severely limited the supply. MADE is a charitable business that cannot provide jobs for the disabled building wheelchairs (which are often paid for by donors, since the handicapped are normally extremely poor) if they don’t have power for lights or hand tools or the sewing machine. This is an exciting charity that solves two problems at once and is very efficiently and honestly run by its director, Fatuma Acan. I also plan to try to acquire the bearings used to build the chairs, which are one of the hardest and expensive components involved.

These are my primary goals and any contributions to help in this area would be appreciated. However, I have several secondary goals associated with the orphanages as well. I plan to stock them with a number of critical over the counter medications; primarily in the areas of cough suppressants/expectorants, fever reducers, children’s chewable vitamins, and especially asthma medication (Primatene tablets). Asthma is an especially serious issue at the Kiwanga orphanage in Kampala; the pollution level in the city of smoke-belching vehicles is not to be believed. These medications are all available, but the Primatene tablets are difficult for me to accumulate; they fall under the group of over-the-counter (OTC) medications under new restrictions. You have to get them from the pharmacy itself, they ID you and only allow you to buy 2 boxes a month (rest assured; I am NOT in the meth lab business J) I could use some donors willing to help me buy the Primatene tablets; I’d like to leave the small nurse’s station well stocked with what it takes to keep mild illnesses turning into something serious and possibly fatal..

I get most of the OTC meds as generics from Wal-Mart and Sam’s club is a great place for large bottles of highly useful chewable vitamins for kids. A contribution of $20 of the right meds can go a long way. I need tablet form whenever possible, since all of this goes into luggage and there are serious weight and durability restrictions.

I won’t be taking much in the way of kid’s clothes this time, except a few sweatshirts as packing material (yes, it gets cool there); not efficient. I can get clothes and shoes there, if I have funds for it.

Well there it is; I ask you- if you can- pitch in and help me do even more good than I can do by myself for a pack of the nicest- but needy- orphans you’d ever meet. Feel free to contact me at to find out what you can do to help.


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