Sunday, April 29, 2007


On Friday evening, as a rainstorm was beginning to blow in, Lamech, the Ugandan extension worker for our Matiti (goat) project, visited my home to tell me about the plight of one of our HIV positve mothers and goat recipients, Alice. He had been following up on her goat in the village where she lived, only to learn that she had moved into nearby Nyahuka trading center without her goat - whom she left with another goat keeper - but with her 5 children and her mother. Recently widowed, her home in the village was accidently burned to the ground by one of her children, and she was only able to afford to rent a small shelter. Lamech took me to her home, just behind a main road and I found her huddled in a tiny grass covered hut, smaller than the size of our 8ft x 4ft cho (pit latrine) and much less glamourous: unpainted mud walls and an unfinished floor. The door was ajar and she was cooking food just inside the doorway over a charcoal stove, with a newborn baby in her lap, and her 3 and 5 year olds playing on an old, tattered 4 inch mattress. I wondered to myself who got to sleep on it at night. Both of the children were coughing heavily and frequently. The room was so small that neither Lamech nor I could fit inside and so we sat just outside the door, our eyes tingling with smoke from the hot coals. All of Alice's wordly possessions were contained in this tiny room that she shares with 6 other people. As if that weren't bad enough, on the other side of one of the walls, inches from where they live, sleep, and eat was a pit latrine the same size as her shelter.

It was truly one of the worst housing situations I have ever seen, and I just couldn't help thinking of how vivid this picture was of what a terribly broken world we live in. We talked about her options- building a new home on property owned by her husband's family but Lamech said that would cost upward of 1 million Ugandan shillings (about $600) which is currently beyond what I can help her to do - or at least in the short term, moving to another place to live. She was confident that other rented rooms were available nearby, at least with cement walls and zinc roofs, even if they didn't offer any separate space for cookng. So I gave her money to rent such a place for the next few months. I then came slowly home with a heavy heart and a deeper appreciation for my 3 bedroom house, my electric lights, my running water which I heated for a bucket bath, my spacious kitchen, and the nutritious dinner I prepared and sat down to eat. My assistance to her felt like little more than a band aid because that's really all it was.

It was extremely humbling.

There but for the grace of God go I.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Survivors

From 204 to 39…after the coccidiosis plague subsided, we are left with 39 chickens. (Basaija is counting the remaining birds.) I am reminded that God works through weakness, and He “chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” He has already used this situation to humble me, and to build greater faith in me. As a team, we look forward to seeing how such a small flock of chickens will be used by Him.

Baby Goat on the Move

The night before the goat distribution a goat named Opera gave birth to a little boy kid. It was white with some brown spots. He awkwardly moved his long legs to hobble around. They stayed with us for a 2 weeks to make sure they were all well. My children enjoyed helping with the milkings which happened twice a day. This week, Opera and Ricky (as my kids dubbed him) headed off on two motorcycles to their new home. Opera is giving nearly a liter of milk a day and Ricky is suckling as well. The breeder, who is HIV+ will rapidly wean her 6 month old child and start giving goat's milk. In a few months, when the child is tested for HIV, we hope to find her negative.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Beans, Oil and a Bag of Salt

This past Thursday, we had our second food distribution of the year and our largest ever: 130 women came, many with babies and young children and several with their husbands, to haul home 20 kilos of beans and a 3 litre jug of cooking oil. The beans came by lorry from Kasese, a town in the west of Uganda about 4 hours away from here. The oil was bought from Kampala-based Mukwano Industries, one of the largest companies in this country that supplies all sorts of household goods. After we had registered all the women, weighed them and their babies, and tested those babies and children who had not yet been tested, one of the women approached Donato, our Ugandan colleague, and asked him "Where is the salt?" Truthfully we had not planned to give out salt, but it is locally available in large quantities - though it actually comes from Kenya - and is very inexpensive. Plus it was a very reasonable request: salt will definitely make those beans more tasty! So, Scott and Donato drove down to Nyahuka Trading Center, less than 1 kilometer away, and within minutes returned with 150 bags of salt.

As I watched the women taking home their bags of salt, along with their beans and oil, I was reminded that salt was important to Jesus too. He told his followers, "You are the salt of the earth" and so he calls us to live distinctive (flavorful) lives that bring him honor and glory.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Join Us!

As God has called us to Bundibugyo many of us have our children with us. We have 16 children on the team currently, most of them are school aged. We are hoping for one more teacher for them in their 4 room school house we call Rwenzori Mission School. If you are interested in joining the team as a teacher, thus facilitating the health, nutrition, Christ School, church strengthening efforts of this place, check it out on the WHM website. It will allow you to serve the team as well as immerse yourself in the beauty of Bundibugyo and it's people.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


Meet Donato, the Senior Administrative Assistant for the Kwejuna Project, which serves HIV positive women and their families. Actually its a very misleading job title since Donato's role is quite varied. Donato has been with working with World Harvest for almost 4 years now, before the Kwejuna Project even had a name. He was one of the folks chosen as a community mobilizer in the fall of 2003 when Drs. Scott & Jennifer were informing communties about the upcoming HIV prevention project that was about to be launched for pregnant women. Donato did such an outstanding job of organizing these community events and liaising with the local village heads, that he was brought on to provide day to day support and supervision to what came to be known as the Kwejuna Project. His role involves making sure the sites - now 9 - have adequate supplies to conduct HIV testing to all mothers who come for prenatal care; helping to collect data for the monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly reports we are required to submit; and helping to work with the many staff scattered across the district. His latest responsibility has been to take on the procuring of over 3,000 kilos of beans from Kasese - a town 4 hours away - as part of our food supplement program. The latest shipment of beans arrived last Thursday, and have been stacked in our store, ready to be given out to the 125 women expected to arrive this Thursday. What a blessing Donato is to the Kwejuna project!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Goats, God's provision

It was a goat party, one big goat party, the kind God would throw, where mostly widows, orphans, the infected and desperate were invited. About a hundred adults (which in Africa means at least a hundred kids tagging along) gathered on Thursday for the distribution of 68 specially breeded dairy goats, the fruits of Karen’s Matiti project, purchased by generous donations from friends in the US, and arranged by Karen’s visionary work here. The goats arrived from a dairy-goat-farm British mission project in Masaka (near Kampala) on Tuesday. After a day of feeding and sorting and matching ear tags with lists of eligible patients, the community gathered for the celebration. A representative of the recipients, mostly HIV-positive women and a smattering of grandmothers caring for orphans, got up to say that they would be praying for God to bless our mission. That was powerful for me, the prayers of the poor extravagantly poured upon us. For me these were not just names on a list, or faces in a crowd. I could remember grieving with this woman the death of her child, or celebrating with that one the news that the baby had avoided infection, or struggling to pull another’s infant through severe illness. Pamela encouraged the people to care for their animals, and Karen drew the analogy to seeds, as each goat could breed with local varieties so that the blessing could propagate on to many, many families. We live in a district of chronic undernutrition, so that a sustainable source of calories and protein for young children can have wide-ranging benefits for development.

Scott spoke on behalf of the mission, telling the story of Abraham and Isaac in dramatic detail. If you have never lived among people for whom Bible-story standards are as shocking and fresh as a first-run Hollywood movie plot, you can’t appreciate the gasps and laughter. And if you’ve not lived among people for whom goats are the traditional currency and source of life, you can’t imagine the relevance of stories like this one. The child at risk, the grieving and wondering parent, the moment of near-death, the ram in the thicket, God’s provision. The goat saves Isaac’s life. What a context for goats being handed out to people with hungry, marginalized children, to save their lives. Then Scott pointed out that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, God’s true provision for our lives. It was a great blending of real-life flesh-and-blood salvation from starvation pointing to deeper truths in the spiritual realm.

Pamela and Karen and Stephanie tirelessly shepherded the waiting recipients through registration and speeches and a generous lunch, then the group migrated from the community center to the Masso yard where the 68 goats were penned. Our veterinary assistants were joined by some of the kids (Acacia, Julia, and Jack) bringing goats out of the pen one by one. It became a nearly whole-team effort to match the goats to the records, the records to the right patient, documenting, handing over. Rascally goats jumped energetically while women stunned at their good fortune grasped ropes and hauled them away towards home.

A community leader from each of 16 subcounties received males to make available for breeding, while the females went to families whose children needed the protein boost of milk (something to think about when you pull a carton of milk out of the fridge so easily).

God’s provision, but detoured through the efforts of many, many people. The kind of party that Jesus would definitely attend. It was so much fun we’d like to do it again this year, if the money comes in.
Jennifer (from our paradoxuganda blog)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The goats have arrived!

Yesterday, the goats began to enter the truck at 5:15 am. They arrived in Bundibugyo at 6:30pm! It was so nice to receive them in daylight hours. 18 males and 50 females came off the truck and were so happy to be free of the constraints of the snug vehicle. They rushed to eat the food that was laid out for them. Two females were milked immediately. A sick goat was given an injection. The male goats were in a daze and fought wildly. There was serious rearing and head butting going on as they tried to find comfort in their temporary abodes. During the night they were generally quiet, though some head clunking was still heard. Today is their resting day before they meet their new owners tomorrow and walk to their new home. We praise God for these blessings. We are so grateful to so many of you for your part in this journey.

Saturday, April 7, 2007


I’d like to introduce you to Pauline. She is an animal husbandry extension worker. She came to Bundibugyo in Sept 2006. She began assessing the health and condition of the dairy goats that had been placed in villages earlier in the year. She went on maternity leave and is back with Keith, a healthy young boy.
Currently she is supervising the 2 projects on mission property: the chicken coop and the Dairy Goat Breeding Station. She will arrange for supplies from Fort Portal like grain feeds, medicines and vaccines. She’ll manage coop changes for the chickens as they grow. She’ll direct the breeding, record keeping and tagging of goats. She will be responsible for identifying and treating sick animals.
She is also designing and overseeing the fodder (animal food) fields as well. There is a small garden for the chickens greens. There will also be a demonstration garden. It will show local people how to grow food for their family on their plots of land, while interspersing it with goat food to get the most out of their land.

Last Minute Goat Preparations

We are down to the wire now. Lamech has gone back to Masaka to join his family for Easter and meet his newborn little girl- 2wks old. He will return on Tuesday, April 11th with a load of goats. The journey could take up to 12 hours, so they'll leave at sunrise.
Meanwhile, Pauline is making sure we are ready on this end. Invitations for recipients and government officials like the District Veterinary Officer (DVO) are being delivered for the distribution ceremony on Thurs. the 13th. Plans are being made for the catering that day. The goat sheds are ready. A fence is being strengthened. A water tap is being added to the Buck Station on WHM grounds making easy access to drinking water and water for pen cleaning. Materials are being brought for a small storage garage for all the gardening, and feeding supplies, wheelbarrow, etc.
We are looking forward to an exciting week.