This year our team has taken on the incredible task of working with local Ugandans to build a Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!
Previously, our team has gone to Uganda to provide clean water (which is a huge issue throughout Uganda) and Mission4Water continues to do amazing work! They have taken some time to go back and re-visit wells to service them, and in some cases needing to entirely fix them! So, due to the nature and time it takes to plan these trips, we have decided for this year to shift the focus to a new project!
To help us identify needs and navigate logistics far ahead of our mid-summer arrival, we are working with Bob N. an amazing local Ugandan (who is also connected to Mission4Water)! Bob invests all of his time in helping shift the culture of Uganda, focusing on leadership development and community care trainings. He wrote a book you can get here and learn more about what he’s doing here and also watch this video.
Maternity Ward/Urgent Care Facility for a Refugee Settlement in Northern Uganda!
This is the floor plan for the building that we’ve decided to go with. It is much smaller than our original goal, but since it is already pre-approved by the government it means significantly less red-tape to jump through (which is worth it)!
Imvepi Refugee Settlement
(On the far West side of the image)
The current plan is to build in zone 2 of the Imvepi Refugee Settlement.
Imvepi is largely comprised of South Sudanese refugees; and this particular zone has a greater chance of being around for quite some time over the original hope of building in a different zone with greater need (but less chance of being around for as long). – So after lots of discussion about where to place the Maternity Ward, the long-term impact of zone 2 just couldn’t be dismissed in part due to the larger native community that would be also impacted, and better served currently as well as once the South Sudanese are able to return home safely.
Watch the video above to see the (likely) location for our building! The two semi-permanent structures (tents) currently serve as the health facility and double as offices for food distribution to another zone.
The current plan is to be in country for 14 days in the middle of summer. – The exact dates are still to be determined, and largely depend on trying to get the least expensive flight prices for our team in order to save travel costs that can then be applied to the project!
However, we will send funds ahead of our arrival so that they can lay the foundation, begin preparing with brick making on site, ship all materials, and of course tackle the very real need for water here as well. – You can’t make bricks without water, nor can you pour concrete!
Team leaders Amy and Krista have a passion for building a community. – Specifically in rallying people together with common goals, and creating a way for people to learn, grow, and be a part of something that can change the world for the better.
Why this project?
After lots of discussions, Amy and Krista felt it was important to both highlight the work, and give a voice to the refugee crisis that is happening in Uganda. There is incredible work that is already happening, but the South Sudanese refugees (along with lots of other people from places like DRC, Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Burundi, Rawanda and others) that are fleeing to Uganda, and largely being overlooked due to other refugee crises around the world.
So, the big question that we asked ourselves was, “What practical way can two people, leading a small team, backed by supporters impact and improve the lives of refugees?”
Lots of back and forth discussions with Bob N. and it was finally settled on the very tangible need for the refugee women to have a place to safely deliver their babies. Currently women are delivering children on the floors of their tents, which is dirty, dusty or muddy depending on the time of year… OR they are walking crazy distances to get medical care.
We decided that at the very least, we could rally people and companies to support us in literally saving the lives of innocent children, and providing medical care for those who have already experienced extreme trauma.
How can you help?
There are four main ways to help and support our team!
- Support us financially* or join one of our events!
- Follow along with our blog and on social media via the hashtag #ugandaexcited
- Learn and Share about the refugee crisis in Uganda
- Pray and send our team encouragement to uganda[at]aoneeight.org
Thank you to our family, friends, and the companies for the amazing support and encouragement already!
~Amy, Krista, and the Uganda team!
*Any donations received above our fundraising goal will be donated to the local NGO’s we are working with to ensure proper care and support for the community.
I have been trying to come up with words to reflect and summarize our time in Uganda. I have a torrential waterfall, much like Murchison Falls overflowing with feelings that flood through me every time I try to share.
How do you summarize or share something that wasn’t just life changing for you personally, but also for 14 other people?
On one hand, it is simple to say, “It was amazing!”
Another, possibly more accurate description would be, “It was incredibly hard from every possible aspect, but God showed up in equal measure.”
Before we left in July, I had been praying for everyone on our team for months.
When I started praying in December, it was more generic, “Lord, be with ____ today.” And then, as I got to know them better, my prayers became specific and nuanced. But, about six weeks out, I started praying that our Lord would give each of us a greater awakening of who He is, who we are because of Him, and that we would have a greater awareness and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit.
In hindsight, I probably should have been a bit more specific, and in the future I will probably be more intentional about the words I choose. I absolutely feel like all of my prayers were answered, but in a way that meant the trip was incredibly difficult, and yet, through it all God was faithful, and he showed up with gentle but incredible force.
For years I have maintained that trouble, persecution, trials, difficulties often act as a greenhouse for God to show up. – Uganda was no different.
Every day we had a new challenge, some interpersonal, others health related, some were directly connected to why we were there, and then others blindsided us and needed some massive amounts of prayer for wisdom. Each unique problem felt like we were presented with the option to take the blue pill or red pill… Choose stress, frustration, and giving into the emotions or instead, press in to God, through prayer and petition, and rely on one another even more. – Spiritual warfare at its finest.
There was not a day that went by that I did not find myself both thanking God for showing up and surrounding us as a team and individuals, extending extra grace and tangibly sending the Holy Spirit to comfort and encourage us.. But, also overwhelmed with the gravity of some of the situations we had to face.
Never in my life have I been so aware of spiritual attacks, and equally as aware of the presence of the Lord surrounding both myself and others.
Some of the things we faced are simply not meant to be shared in a public setting with people we cannot have a conversation with; other challenges are not mine to share.
However, to help give you a glimpse:
Right at the beginning we had busted out a back window of the rented vehicle. – In Uganda the difficulty is actually replacing it with authentic car glass that will shatter correctly.
We had raised extra money and took it as an “emergency fund” and were able to replace the window within 6 hours with little to no stress because of the donations we had received.
After four days of drilling, and an absent local community, one well was caught in the middle of a community dispute about the location. There was beginning to be pressure on the team to abandon the well location and start over. – If we had to do this, the only well that had hit water at that point would not have been able to be completed in the time we had.
A community meeting was called after dark at the well site on the fourth day, and the Holy Spirit showed up. The women of the community rose in defense of the well location, and fought for their needs and ultimately won.
One site’s auger bit got stuck at 16ft, causing the team to have to dig a 6ft in diameter pit by hand with pickaxes that broke on the regular down to unstick the auger bit. (***Update, the pit ended up having to go to a total of 31ft, then they started auguring again, hit water at 40ft, and completed the well depth at 55ft! – The third well is now complete 3 weeks after we left!)
The community rallied and men joined in daily to help with the efforts. It was one of the most beautiful examples of people literally fighting for a need they have, but also creating space for the team to bond with their community. The Holy Spirit also seemed to extend extra grace to that team, giving them confidence, so much fun and laughter, and peace about the ever increasing realization that they would not be able to complete the well, but that it would be completed after we left.
Rocks, clay as hard as rocks, more rock, bending and breaking tools.
Because of the donations that were sent and the abundance of support we received prior to leaving, we were able to replace everything that broke. And, eventually, slowly, little by little we were able to hand drill and chisel beyond each level of soil or rock.
So much discouragement, insecurity, fear, pain, physical illness; more than I can accurately explain in a blog post.
Every single time, before we encountered any issues or problems, someone lead a devotional in the morning that tied directly to what we needed to hear, or someone shared a word or passage of scripture that resonated and sustained us through.
And, these are just the things that we dealt with as a team; this does not include the individual problems, challenges, or struggles we faced and prayed through.
So, reflecting on the trip hasn’t been simple or linear either. As I have begun to work intentionally at creating more space for my own process, I began reading through my journal and prayers. I had already forgotten, or simply have no recollection of praying for some of the things I prayed to our Lord for!
A few nights ago, I was asked how I was feeling, at first I sidestepped with my usual answer of giving a few valid, but not the total picture answers. Soon though as they pressed gently, I began to ramble through my feelings of being overwhelmed, still trying to find space and time to process, and then found myself in tears as I ended my ramble with, “I just miss Uganda”.
I miss the organization we work with, the work we did, and the people there. I also miss the simplicity of focus I needed to have. In Uganda, I only had a handful of things I needed to manage and focus on, in my normal everyday life the focus is in the hundreds daily.
But, if I’m being honest, what I miss most is our team’s daily togetherness and intentionality to love well. It isn’t easy, nor is it glamorous for 15 people to live and do intimate community together (especially in Africa); actually, it’s really hard and it pushes you and requires you to grow in ways you never expect! However, there is also an element of “rightness” to choosing to live and love others intentionally in a true and very real community of believers.
Since getting back three weeks ago, there is a great deal of spiritual warfare still taking place for many on our team and for the organization we work with in Uganda. Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers as the Lord is still on the move.
(click the images and scroll through)
Thank you for your support, for your encouragement, prayers, money, and for loving our team so well for the last 8 months as we have prepared and then gone to Uganda to provide clean water to three communities! We cherish you and your support more than we can communicate to you.
Thank you for sending us to Uganda for 16 days that changed our lives forever.
(Team leader for #WaterWarriors)
Three clean water wells for our third time in Uganda!
We are kicking off preparations for our third trip to Uganda!
As preparations begin, we are meeting with people to give more information, sending lots of e-mails answering questions, and plans are flying! After all, social media posts, sponsorship letters, and fundraising for our 2017 Uganda Mission team is already underway!
Clean water, that’s why.
The average Ugandan walks 6k a day for water that isn’t even clean.
The bulk of the responsibility goes to young children or girls, and the watering holes are typically unsafe and/or unclean. Contaminated water can cause a wide variety of illnesses, many of which are easily treatable. But, some of which if they go untreated can cause death. However, because many in Uganda cannot afford the medication, let alone the hospital bill, the contaminated water can pose a real threat. Learn more about water illnesses here.
- Each clean water well that Mission4Water digs serves on average 350 people.
- Each well costs around $4,000.
- Each well costs about $12 PER PERSON it serves to provide clean, safe drinking water for the rest of their life!
However, since this year we will be in the Entebbe region (just outside of Kampala), there’s a good chance the wells will service a larger population. – Making the per person cost much lower, but the overall cost about the same.
What Are the Trip Details?
For our third year (in a row), we are sending a group of 15 people to Uganda for two weeks in July to partner with Mission4Water.org to dig THREE clean water wells!
In previous years we have dug two at a time and left additional money for them to dig wells after we are gone! But, this year, we have been able to work out the logistics to add a third clean water well while we are there!
Our goal is to raise enough funds to dig three wells, and provide them the money for an additional two after we leave!
Why are we stoked? Because after the completion of this year’s trip, this particular mission will have helped Mission4 Water dig 15 clean water wells!.. EACH serving around 350 people, meaning over 5,200 people will have clean water in Uganda after the 2017 trip! A drop in the bucket begins to add up!
As the leaders, we are SO excited to be returning to Sue, Sunday, and “the Boys” (the six full-time drillers) that we can hardly stand it! As a team, we have six people returning from last year’s trip, and are stoked to add an additional nine people to the team! Making this trip a fun generational experience since each year has had people from the previous trips.
This year we will be splitting into three groups during the workday hours to hand auger (drill), dig, prepare PVC piping and filters, lay cement, and pump in order to get three working clean water wells!
The entire process takes anywhere from 7-10 days depending on how deep the holes need to be dug, which depends on the time of year (rainy or dry season), and of course the type of ground we are digging through. – Last year one of the teams could not get past a couple feet of sandstone, ultimately having to abandon the hole and start over!
After the wells are finished and commissioned, the team will head up to Murchison Falls for two days of rest, a safari, and debriefing before returning to the US.
The 411 on Money
Each person that goes on the trip will need to raise funds to cover their expenses during the two week trip which will be $2,950.
As a team, the additional $4,000 per well is not included in the per-person cost of the trip. – So, ultimately we dig as many wells as we have funds to cover.
Last year, with the help and support of local organizations, companies, restaurants, individuals (friends, family, and strangers), a ton of legwork on the part of our team, and the Fairfax JDC doing a learning project and fundraising event, we raised $43,125, significantly over our goal! With this money we were able to send 10 individuals, dig two wells, and send money for additional wells! Miraculously we were able to raise literally THOUSANDS of dollars to change the lives of people on the other side of the world for the rest of their lives.
We are stoked to see how 2017 turns out! We believe that this year will be reflective of the excitement building within the people joining the team, and we have no doubts that this year we will continue to increase the support that we received last year!
- We will have our third annual Race for H2Ope 6k Run/Walk in May. – Previously raising $10-15k each year!
- We will have another silent auction and house party! – Providing community, laughter, goodies, and of course an amazing support base for our team!
- We are a creative bunch, so numerous additional fun events will be planned and coming!
Be sure to keep a lookout for ways to join our community of supporters, meet new people, learn more about Uganda, and of course support an amazing organization with Mission4Water!
Join us on this journey!
Come to our events, follow this blog and our updates on social media, pray for the team, and please consider supporting us financially! Together, we can each be a drop (or two) in the bucket to make a tangible difference in the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of people in 2017!
Before I get into my thoughts, just as a bit of an update:
We have and have not hit water!
#TeamAmy hit water on the first day, literally only a few feet into digging!…(what?!) Which inevitably made #TeamKrista full of joy and jealousy! 😉 Haha #TeamKrista spent ALL of day two digging through sandstone and have yet to hit water… but we are prepared and preparing our Mission4Water men for the dance party that WILL happen once we do! #TeamAmy spent all of day two slinging mud and slipping in it!.. We aren’t sure who’s winning the soreness and difficulty factor at the moment.
Ok, now onto some of my thoughts…
When we arrived to Rukungiri on Monday, there was no power, which means the lights were running on a generator, and the water was ushered in via Jerry Cans. – What an interesting welcoming to see and experience first hand how water dictates your life.
Also, as a side learning moment, when the generators are running the power, it is hit or miss if you will have a working outlet… Which then caused us to huddle on Amy’s bed to send updates because between all ten rooms, there was exactly one outlet that worked. Just one.
So, for the first day or so, we had limited power and no running water; which means learning to bucket bathe and shave… Then saving that water to use to flush our toilets… And, because I love sharing all things that keep it real, mostly if it leads to a funny story (Africa style): After two days of traveling, your body is ready for some good toilet time!
When you begin a mission such as this, your goal is centered around water. You prepare for months to understand and provide water; but, let’s be honest here, in America it is actually entirely unfathomable to accurately comprehend how much water dictates everything. EVERYTHING. It is simply something that cannot be understood because water is a subconscious element of life, just like air; we just don’t have to think about it… at all. So, to start out our mission with water problems, and then realizing we are the beneficiaries of someone else filling 20+lb Jerry cans full of water, then heating up the water, and putting ONE for each of us outside our room (ten rooms)… You cannot help but instantly see the missional need play out before you.
After a full day, we had power AND water!
Glorious water running through our pipes!
It was time for a real shower (after you flip the switch and wait 20 minutes to allow the water to heat up somewhat). However, when you shower, you still stand in a plastic basin to catch as much of the water as you can, in order to use it to flush the toilet later should the power go out again. (which it has)
However, they do not have shower curtains, which means there’s a very real danger of slipping and hurting yourself, because of all the water splatter in the bathroom (or in Krista speak: killing yourself for others to find you in your full glory!!!!).
Yet, we seem to be experiencing feast or famine in regards to water (both in life and at our drilling sites!)… Once the power came back on, and we got water, my toilet still would not work.
The hotel staff came to work on it, for hours, literally hours. At one point, I stopped into my room to grab something, and water was everywhere in the bathroom and they were BAILING IT OUT INTO BUCKETS! I couldn’t help but start laughing, which I’m not sure the hotel staff understood although I assured them it was ok… But I mean really, ALL the water everywhere.
They finished up well after dark and just before bed. Yet, when I returned to my room I realized they did not fix it, they had simply turned the water off, to wait to return later. With one liiiittttllleee problem, they had turned off toilet water, which proceeded to leak, one drop at a time… everywhere.
(Thankfully there’s a slope from my room into the bathroom, which prevents it from actually flooding into my room.)
Our team has spent quite a bit of time joking about me canoeing down the hallway in my suitcase wishing them all a good morning!
When I woke up this morning, the towel I had rolled up and closed in the doorway was sopping wet, and there was almost an inch of water collected in the bathroom over night.
One drop at a time.
It is now the following day, and they have been working since basically yesterday trying to fix the problem. My toilet has been disassembled, reassembled, parts replaced, etc… But, guess what? – The power is out again.
Guess what you cannot do while the power is out?: Check to see if the toilet is working properly. Haha So, unexpected water adventures… in my bathroom.
However, in Amy’s room, her shower drips… Each drip is collected into a basin in order to flush the toilet later if the power remains out.
A drop in the bucket actually matters.
But, it only matters if you are patient enough to wait.
Can you wait for the water to collect to be useful? – Or are you too impatient to wait for the full bucket?
What if you are one drop in the bucket, but you are too impatient to wait?… There’s very likely someone else collecting your drop, and patiently waiting for the rest of the drops to be collected.
People say, “what good are you doing? It is just a drop in the bucket.”
Let me assure you, now, unlike any other time in my life, I understand how much a drop in the bucket actually matters.
A drop in the bucket can provide life.
A drop of life giving water changes the course of everything… if you are patient enough.
Are you patient enough to wait for drops in the bucket?
We figured it was time to share some updates on our Uganda mission preparation!
We are about three months away!
- We have our tickets bought! – Which means we have official dates!
- We are 35% of the way to our crazy $48,000 goal – Which will send 10 of us to Uganda, allow us to build two clean water wells while we are on the ground, and leave the funds for an additional three wells!
- Starting in two weeks (May) our team begins meeting twice a month, which is one of the best indications of how close we are getting!
We are so excited about upcoming events that will help us to raise funds, but also because these events allow us to spread the knowledge of what we are doing and why!
- On April 23rd at 7pm we have house party asking people to support us here!
- On June 4th we have our 2nd annual 6K Race for H2Ope Run/Walk in MD! – This year we also have Heritage Hills Church in MI partnering with us and doing a second Race for H2Ope Run/Walk in MI on the same day!
If you would like to join the Run/Walk in MD or MI, register here!
We also are excited to share that we have our team t-shirts ready to be ordered, but also excited that everyone that joins us for the race will also be sporting our team shirt!