Friday, July 8, 2011

Birthdays and Bio Sand Filters

Hey Everyone,

I am still having a wonderful time in Katosi with my roommate Leslie.  In fact today is her birthday and we are going to attempt a cake for the occasion.  Of course there are no ovens here, so we have to put two pots together on a gas stove and put the cake inside of that.  This is the closest thing to an oven we are going to get in Katosi.  We already made one with the Peace Core Volunteer that lives in Katosi; her name is Heidi and she has been a great help giving us advice and teaching us tricks like this one.  We were supposed to help her teach one of the women’s groups how to bake cakes a few days ago, but unfortunately they canceled.  Witchcraft had apparently taken place and people were supposed to die in their homes so it was not safe for us to go.  Most people in Uganda are Christian; in fact 85% of the population is Christian, but the people in rural villages still believe in witchcraft and witch doctors etc.  I was bummed that we couldn’t go and when I heard the explanation it took me a second to digest it.  The people here are certainly more superstitious than the United States.  Hopefully no spells will be cast in two weeks when we are supposed to meet with the group for the second time. Only time will tell I guess.

   In other news we finally started making the bio sand water filters!!! I am so excited to finally have them started.  Two were already made and we have already made two more, so hopefully in the next week we can make yet another two.  I have enough money to pay for six thanks to Our Lady of Perpetual Help School.  I attended this elementary school and the children there raised money for me for their Lent Projects.  I am so thankful and I will send pictures of the families who are receiving the filters as soon as I can.   Instead of giving them away, however, I have decided to only subsidize each one so that the families are invested in the project.  My original plan was to give a bio sand water filter to all of the schools I was working for, but after attending the schools I discovered that they all have at least one and most of them have gone to waste.  To maintain the filters you have to put water in them every day or they dry up and go bad over time.  If you put water in them every day, however, they will last forever.   Unfortunately, the people here are used to receiving things for free and they are not invested in the project.  The bio sand water filters in the schools are a prime example of charity gone to waste.  Thus, I announced to the women’s groups that I will subsidize half if they pay for the other half.  This way the women and their families have invested in the filters and will be more motivated to maintain them and use them every day.  I have to admit that I had to put on my mean face to get this project started and the get the women to show up on time to build them.  I do not think that I will ever get used to Africa time.  However, we are on a role now and I hope to have 6 finished before I leave, but the money I brought should pay for 12 since I am subsidizing half.   The filters are quite the project, but I have really enjoyed making them.  We mix cement, sand, and rocks to make the cement and then we poor it all into a mold and let it dry for 24 hours.  The mixing and screwing and packing takes about three hours and the women we are working with work extremely hard.  Three women were helping us named Betty, Rusty, and Gertrude and I am so thankful for all of their hard work.  Leslie and I are going to paint them all and then fill them with the layers of sand and they should be ready to go.  I will keep you updated, but a special thanks to OLPH for helping me pay for this project.  Your donations are greatly appreciated. Until next time.


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