Tuesday, May 31, 2011
This is a picture of the incinerator chimney during operation. The incinerator is currently burning waste at temperatures over 900 degrees C, and as you can see, there is no smoke! This is exactly what we're looking for.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Friday, May 27, 2011
Yesterday was one of the most memorable days I have had in Kampala. I shadowed Nicholas, one of EAC's students. He is the most gentle, kind, and hardworking person. On Monday, we had reunited in epic fashion. I was walking back to the EAC office from the EAC home when I heard my name being called. I was confused. Who in Kampala would know my name? It was Nicholas! He told me "I am so happy to see you." The feelings were mutual. Currently, he is enrolled in a technology and leadership program through the KiBO Foundation. Service learning is one of the main components of the organization’s curriculum so I asked Nicholas if I could join him for a day to learn about the program. He was happy to let me tag along. The day turned out to be more powerful and fun than I expected.
I met Nicholas at EAC’s home at 8 AM. For transport, I took a boda boda. I wore my heroic new motorcycle helmet (or “element” as it is pronounced in Kampala). It is red with flames and has a clear sheet a plastic that moves up in down in the eye area. I told the driver to go super slow and not pass any vehicles, a request that he followed. So, I got his number if I ever need a ride. Ask anyone and they will tell you that it is important to have a few trusted boda boda drivers. I was happy to find my first.
From the house, Nicholas and I walked to the KiBO Foundation. It was a 30-45 minute walk. Interestingly, Agie, EAC’s program manager in Kampala and one of my favorite people, saw me walking. She did not see Nicholas and called me because she did not understand why was walking the opposite direction of the EAC office and said I looked confused. I thought that this was funny. It was probably just my normal face because I live life in a constant yet wonderful state of slight confusion. It’s hard to explain.
During our walk, Nicholas and I had a wonderful conversation. First, he told me about the KiBO Foundation. The organization main program, which he is enrolled in, is about three months long. Students learn work skills, which they then apply to a service project. For a straightforward explanation, go here – http://kibofoundation.com/pages/kibo_model.html. Nicholas’s class is raising money to assist a primary school. To fund the project, every student is required to raise at least 50,000 Ugandan shillings. Nicholas raised his money by providing car washing services to EAC staff and assisting an orphanage that raises money by catering events. Later in the post, I will go into more detail about Nicholas's plans to eventually open a bakery and the orphanage that he helped. In addition to personal fundraising, the students held group events, which included an entertainment show that some of EAC's students performed in and a car wash.
Later in the day, Nicholas gave me the proposal that the class put together for fundraising purposes. The impressive document outlines the project and provides a proposed budget. It will be an amazing source to me as I consider elements of the service curriculum I create for EAC. It is important to note that Nicholas was elected to be Project Manager. According to one of his teachers, he has done an amazing job of organizing the project. I would agree. Throughout the day, he would tell me about decisions he made about how to approach the other students. It was as if he had been in my Human and Organizational Development courses at Vanderbilt.
One of the things that Nicholas told me that made me happiest was that he learned that the computer is just a tool. He said that when he started KiBO, he thought that he would simply learn computer skills and that would make him more employable and better off; however, he learned that computer skills are just a small part of the equation. He said, “Skills are just tools to be used to get important things done.” That is one of the major points I want to make in the curriculum that I create.
KiBO has inspired Nicholas to really think about how he can give back to his community. The idea of performing community service now excites him. After he explained KiBO, I explained my project. Nicholas told me that he liked what I was doing and would like to assist me. After asking Jeremy, it looks like this may be possible. This is a prospect that I am very excited about.
When we arrived at KiBO, the receptionist called the program coordinator over to give me an overview of the program and tour of the facilities. I felt bad because I had very few questions. Nicholas had done such a great job of explaining the program that I did not have much more to learn! After the tour, I assisted Nicholas with making LinkedIn account and went with him to pay carpenters that are making doors and windows for the school that they are assisting. Saturday is the groundbreaking of the project and graduation of his KiBO class. One of Nicholas's teachers joined us to go to the carpenters. We became instant buds because he is a huge fan of basketball and said his favorite team was the Dallas Mavericks!
After going to the carpenters, Nicholas and I went to lunch at Palm Pizza, one of the places that Nick Hall and I used to like going last year. During lunch, he told me about his hopes to open a bakery called ONick's People's Bakery. He has an amazing vision and his passion for baking is clear from the moment he begins to talk about his idea. He asked me if I would be willing to go with him to the Daughters of Charity Orphanage to see a cake that he was working on. Even if I had something important to do, I could not have said “no.”
We stopped by the EAC home so I could get my backpack and then started our walk over. This proved to be a powerful journey for me. Nicholas and I took a shortcut through one of the slums in Kampala. While I visited a school in this area last year, I had not walked through the community. Nicholas apologized for taking me through this area, which I told him was unnecessary. It was important for me to see and caused me to think. I was proud of him because he had a great deal of knowledge about different NGOs operating in the area and which ones the communities were receptive to. It is going to be great to have him assisting me when I go out to create service opportunities. I do not know how adequately describe the slum. I think it something that you have to see for yourself. Pictures or words cannot really capture the reality. I will continue to think about it and maybe write a posting later about it. I can tell you that people were surprised to see me, a “muzungu” (white person), walking through their community. Children came up to shake my hand and ask me how I was doing.
When we arrived at the Daughters of Charity, I met some of the staff and promised to return to learn more about the organization. Then, Nicholas showed me the cake he was working on. It was 15 layers and really impressive! I really think he has a future in baking. This was the final activity in a wonderful day. I developed a stronger bond with Nicholas, witnessed amazing potential, and was inspired by the work of KiBO.
After Daughters of Charity, I returned to the EAC office and started going through reports written by EAC children. They were assigned to do a service project in their homes during one of their school breaks. I am charting these reports and will write a post about my finding when I finished. Following work, Jeremy invited Will and I along with a few others to come chill at his home. We had a great time. It was relaxing few hours and full of laughter. On the subject of Jeremy, he has been amazing and extremely helpful to me since my arrival. I owe him a special shout out and thank you. When we left his home, Will and I returned home to cook our first meal. That is an uninspiring story for another post . . .
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Before I fall asleep (It’s 11:22 PM right now), I want to provide you with an overdue explanation of my project.
Over the next eight weeks, I will be creating a service learning/community service curriculum for Empower African Children. This is an idea that I became excited about last summer when I was creating outcome measurement tools for EAC with Nick Hall. In the last few days, I have had the opportunity to speak with EAC staff, which has allowed me to develop a more focused approached to what I will be doing.
The curriculum, as of today, will include four components. First, there will be a instruction about service. The goal of the portion of the curriculum is for the children to obtain an understanding of types of service, the purpose of service, and what effective service entails. Topics covered will include sustainability, service as skill/career development and review of different service pioneers from around the world to widen the children’s perspectives to think more globally. In addition, I plan on creating activities around films to be screened at the EAC home during school holidays. If you have any suggestions of films about service, please email me.
The other components of the curriculum involve performing service. A major portion of my time in Kampala is going to be spent reaching out to different organizations and communities to create opportunities for EAC children to volunteer. I am also going I am going to create resources for EAC children to be involved in group and individual service. In addition, I am going to work on how EAC children can participate in service projects with US visitors coming to Kampala.
I hope this provides you with a better understanding of what I am doing in Kampala. Tomorrow morning, I will write a detailed description of my day with Nicholas, my friend and one of EAC’s students. We had an amazing day, and he is now going to be assisting me with my project. I will also write about some of the research that I have been doing. I am so excited about the potential of this project and look forward to sharing more with you. Make sure to check back.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Monday, May 23, 2011
It also helped that today was full of reunions and fun. At the EAC office, I got to see all the people that I developed such a fondness for last summer. Rose greeted me with a great smile and big hug. It was great to see her. I jokingly exclaimed "My sugarcane!" Last year, when we were walking together during Martyr's Day, a taxi driver yelled out, "Look at that man protecting his wife," which led to this inside joke.
After a brief meeting with the EAC staff, I went to the EAC home to spend some time with the children. Some Highlights:
- I had an excellent discussion with Brian - one of EAC's students. Last year, we bonded because he joined Nick and I when we rafted the Nile. We talked about the Spirit of Uganda tour, and I told him about Vanderbilt. During our conversation, I looked over at the game shelves and noticed that they had Balderdash. I had not seen this since 6th grade English class! I explained it to Brian. We didn't play a full out game, but it was fun to express my excitement. I have been searching for this game for a while.
- With three of EAC's children, I participated in an epic game of monopoly . . .
Have to run out of the office. Come back for an completed updated tomorrow including a thank you to Jeremy . . .
Sunday, May 22, 2011
- As we took off, I noticed on the flight tracker that there is a town on the border of Kansas and Oklahoma called Liberal. I could not think of a more inappropriate name for a town in this location. It made me chuckle. There is a book about Kansas being conservative (What's the Matter with Kansas I believe its called) and Oklahoma is the only state in the union in which every district voted Republican in 2012.
- Thanks to Wilson's (my roommate from this year) suggestion, I began reading Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. It is a terrific and powerful book. I recommend that you find a copy.
- The person sitting next to me on the airplane was very interesting. She was from Florence visiting her fiance who is working with the UN for a few weeks before the two of them return to their day job of helping refugees in Afghanistan. I wish there was less of a language gap because her story was so interesting.