Thursday, June 19, 2008

Bobi IDP Camp

Children of the Bobi IDP camp

Lending a hand...

A wonderful group of 4 students (Matt, Amber, Veronica & Travis) came from San Diego, and together we visited the Bobi IDP camp (Internally Displaced Peoples) where Restore International has built and repaired wells. As the area continues to recover economically after years of war, the government and the World Food Program have begun cutting their food supplies to encourage the people to resettle in their home villages, and begin to live off the land again. One difficult challenge in that process is that many parents have been killed, or have died due to AIDS, leaving many orphans in the hands of the elderly. The majority of these elderly have lost their social security (their children). Traditionally, the adult children would work the land, supporting the elderly and their own children. With the parents now gone, these vulnerable segments of the population remain in the IDP camps, dependent on the waning food support of the WFP. One "Mosee'", or elderly man, that we spoke with had custody of 20 children who's parents (many were his own sons and daughters) had died from either the war or AIDS. He is struggling to feed them, using the last of the WFP's allocated support food. He is not sure what he'll do now, but he continues to hold out hope that he can provide food and school fees for the children to escape poverty. It is not yet determined how the government, or the WFP plans to support this vulnerable segment of the population.

It's incredible to see how the people utilize nearly everything. This door is covered with tin from cans of US AID vegetable oil.

Restore International has built and repaired several wells at Bobi. Before this, many people were forced to gather drinking water from a nearby bog, which lead to dysentery, typhoid, worms, and a host of other health issues.

One of Restore International's wells in Bobi

Despite the challenging realities of life in the IDP camp, we were received with bright smiles and greetings of "Munu..Munu!" (White-one, White-one!) After surveying the community and wells, and participating in a prayer meeting in the church hut with the pastors, women and children, we joined hands for a game of duck-duck-goose, which was an absolute riot for the kids. The elderly joined in the laughter as dust flew, and the children ran.

Photographs courtesy of Matt, Travis, Veronica and Amber.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Board of Directors and Administration of Restore Academy

Inside the classroom...

Restore Academy held a conference with the board of directors to concerning the establishment of core values, and to discuss the development plan for the school. The board consists of teachers, pastors, and community elders. The sessions centered around living out the gospel in love, and creating a safe, enriching learning environment for the students.

A meeting with the Ugandan Head Trainer (Soccer Coach)

Laker (law-kay), one of my two close colleagues with Restore, has been organizing a youth soccer gathering from kids in Gulu. The kids gather every late-afternoon to play soccer. This provides a wonderful opportunity for Laker and other mentors to encourage the kids to avoid the dangers of the streets, to have respect for their brothers, and to work as a team. Laker is extremely well connected, and invited Stone, the head soccer trainer in Uganda, to come and speak to the kids. This would be the equivalent of Vince Lombardi in the 60's visiting a youth football program in rural Wisconsin. Stone encouraged the kids to continue to take care of their bodies, to practice physical and mental discipline, and lit a fire of hope within them when he shared with them the national soccer community's desire to tap into the talent of the youth in Gulu. "Your legs can take you far...can pay for your education...can even lead you to fields around the world."
Most of the kids can't afford shoes, so they play barefoot

Stone, Laker, and another Ugandan National League Player

Things are going well here... two groups comprising 6 Americans in all have arrived this week, and are settling in, developing relationships, and helping out wherever they can. I'll send an update soon... Hope everyone is well...bye for now!