We have just returned from Uganda, Africa where we were warmly greeted by the students and faculty of the Mbiriizi Advanced Primary and Day Boarding School. Nine of us spent five days at the school and accomplished so much in such a short period time!
Here’s the good news:
- The Vicky Tuccillo Mbiriizi Library was dedicated;
- The new well was dedicated with the children singing the words of Rudyard Kipling’s poem IF;
- We measured the feet of all 907 children and staff so Samaritan Shoes can fit them with new shoes the first week in November (does anybody want to donate 2,000 pairs of socks to go with the shoes?);
- We inventoried all 267 orphans which meant taking an up-to-date picture, getting their accurate age and determining if there were any health issues (only 100 are sponsored so we still need sponsors for 167);
- Thanks to Joe Corpina, who came with us, we had soccer balls and basketballs for the kids to play with;
- Plus, we had large vinyl “bouncy” balls and a couple dozen kites thanks to the Kitegang (sorry but the thorn bushes got the balls);
- Vicky Tuccillo had even brought hula hoops (some of us remember them) and you should see how fast the children caught on to the way to do it;
- We did a complete inventory of books needed by the children and teachers (currently the children learn by rote and have no books) and found out that $20,000 would supply books (on a two children per book basis) for a full year;
- Thanks to Michele Costa (who will be going with me in December for the Christmas party – does anyone else want to go?) all the teachers got aprons so their clothes are not filled with chalk by the end of the day;
- Lastly, Michele sent an American flag and a Ugandan flag. It was so wonderful to see those two flags flying, side by side, in the breeze.
Here’s the not so good news and where we need help. In Kampala, approximately 100 miles NE of our school, there has been a rash of school fires (35 in the last 40 days), all in private schools. Some have been arson, some accidental (a candle or small stove), some have been the result of school rivalries and some have been vindicate. Whatever the reason it is cause for concern with the Mbiriizi Primary School. We need to build a six unit building to house six teachers who would live at the school. The estimated price for that is $18,000. Tony Costa, my son, had a great idea which was to house the teachers, temporarily, in the library (which has two bathrooms and a shower) until we have completed the fundraising for the books. However, that is temporary. Tony, Michele and I would be devastated to see our hard work and love go up in flames. Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated.
Lastly, Tony and I stayed two extra days to explore a coffee plantation and the feasibility of exporting Ugandan Arabica coffee to the U.S. Currently Uganda sells their coffee beans to Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia but do not have a U.S. distribution. We want to change that and have the profits go to the school. Anybody have any coffee contacts? Any and all suggestions gratefully accepted!
Finally, just a note on upcoming trips:
- November 27-December 4, 2008
- Christmas party and gift giving at the school
- June 26-July 6/7, 2009
- Annual work trip to the school and safari to Murchisson Falls (to see Giraffes and other wonderful wildlife!)