I know I shouldn’t but I am writing this on holiday – in Uganda. I haven’t come to stay in a safari park or lie on a sandy beach but to extend a school. With the help of people in Virginia Water, in July we raised enough to build four new classrooms at Goshen school in a village called Nkondo. You won’t find it on a map but its half an hour’s drive down a rough, bumpy track to the east of Luwero, about an hour and a half s drive north from Kampala. Several hundred thousand people were massacred in the infamous Luwero Triangle during the civil wars back in the 1970’s and 80’s and almost every family still bears the scars in some way. Malaria is endemic, orphans sadly too common and famine stalks much of East Africa. Kiwoko Hospital was built at the epicentre of the killings to help bring life and hope back to this war torn region It is also our base for the week.
That is why we also raised enough money to dig a well and provide a pump for the community. The 500 or so villagers, including the children, presently have to walk or cycle several kilometres every day to find safe clean water to drink. The villagers had tried to dig a well and got down 40 feet before they hit rock, so the new well is going to be dug by a specialist drilling team from the charity Fields of Life. This week, with the help of some local builders and even the school children, between their lessons, we managed to construct two classrooms up to the door lintels, got a third classroom up to waist height and laid the foundations for the fourth.
More used to writing, counselling and speaking, this week I have been discovering the therapy of manual labour, mixing concrete, erecting wooden scaffolding and brick laying. Instead of thinking about words-per-minute, this week I’ve been improving my bricks-per-hour rate. Today was the last day and the whole village turned out for the end of school term celebration, to dedicate the new buildings and mark the spot where, God willing, the new well will be dug.
The three of us from Virginia Water have received so much more than we have contributed. Yes, I miss not having electricity much of the week, or running water to flush, or hot water for a shower, but I would not trade these for the sense of fulfilment in having helped accomplish something, practical, constructive, meaningful and purposeful.