It’s not just about toilets…

A couple of weeks ago I inadvertently got caught up in the toilet/gender furor that has been making the news. Sort of.

IMG_3822 copyMy friend, Pierre, was in town and it was a wonderful spring afternoon. We sat on a patio with a pitcher of beer and then decided to take a walk along the lakeshore.  Soon I realized that the beer was making its way to my bladder and a stop would be necessary.  Unfortunately, the washrooms by the park were closed.

“No matter,” I said, “There are washrooms in the hospital across the street. Let’s head there.  Quickly.”

We bounded into the hallway behind the hospital lobby and  there were some washroom doors ahead. I glanced at the sign above one of the open doors and thought that the hospital must be providing gender neutral or shared washrooms.  Right with the times. No matter to me, I was in a hurry so I scooted into the toilet.  Pierre, a few paces behind me, said he would use the washroom as well.T header

I went into one of the two stalls and quickly started to use the toilet.  I heard (what I thought was) Pierre come in behind me and enter the adjacent stall.

“I was ready to explode,” I uttered over the washroom stall wall.

No answer.

“Guess this is like a transgendered washroom.  We are right up with the times.”

No answer.

I started to think that something was wrong here.  The person in the next stall was awfully quiet and I imaging cowering by that time.

toilet2I zipped up and went out into the hall to find Pierre standing there.  “I used the Men’s washroom,” he said, pointing to the sign on the wall beside the door I had just emerged from.

In my hurry, I had bounded into the women’s washroom.

We left quickly.

IMG_9702 (1)

Now this has amused me but also has made me think about all the furor over the laws to restrict use of washrooms in North Carolina (and some other states) for transgendered people.  It astounds me that lawmakers can be so wrought up about this.  It also points out just how ignorant these people are about who transgendered people are.

The guy on the left, 29-year-old Benjamin Meltzer is a transgendered man.  With the new law in North Carolina he would be required to use a women’s washroom.

 

photoThe woman on the right is 33-year-old married trans writer Janet Mock.  Should she have to use a men’s washroom?

The lawmakers who are espousing this law argue that “little girls should not have to be exposed to men dressed up like women in their washrooms.”  This arguement is nothing but stupid. Their daughters might be more traumatized by having someone like Benjamin Meltzer come into the washroom because the law says he must use the washroom that corresponds to his birth gender.

Once again, I am glad to be Canadian.  In contrast to the narrow-minded approach of some US State politicians,  this week our federal Canadian government introduced a bill to ensure rights of transgendered people. This is about human rights, not just gender.  Hooray for our federal government for continuing to take a compassionate approach to minorities and people who might be vulnerable to intolerance. ( I must point out that President Obama  is not one of these narrow-minded thinkers and he must be equally frustrated to hear the rhetoric being spouted by some other politicians.)

 

I am overdue to take a trip to visit friends who live in North Carolina – wonderful, intelligent, tolerant, understanding people.  But I can not bring myself to drop one tourist dime in that state given their current law.   I am starting to wonder what I might feel  about visiting anywhere in the US if Donald Trump gets elected as president.  I worry about the current political climate in the USA – obviously a lot more than I worry about going into the women’s washroom to relieve myself.

 

 

 

Spring reflections in photos -Pt 2

Yesterday I posted some spring photos. Several of the pictures I took had interesting reflection in the smooth lake so I have grouped them together here.  Part 2.  You can see yesterday’s other photos here if you missed them. It delights me that I have been able to take all these photos within about 10 minutes of my home in beautiful downtown Kingston, Ontario.

Island Queen 2

Reflect 1Reflect 2WIFDucks PosterDelta reflect poster

Pano2

Kingston Canadian Film Festival 2016 – Part 2

So happy that I could take in the Kingston Canadian Film Festival last weekend – ten minutes from where I live.  What a treat.    I saw six movies in 36 hours.  My butt is sore and my eyes are burning but it was an interesting weekend.  Something good about every one of them.

Borealis

How to sum this one up?  A crazy road trip with a 15 year old dope smoking teenage girl who is going blind and her card-shark gambling father from Winnipeg to  Churchill, Manitoba  with a stop in Flin Flon as they try to escape a couple of goons that the dad owes $100,000 and make a trek to see the Northern Lights.  When I write this down it sounds pretty weird but it works, thanks to great screenwriting and acting by  the two main characters as played by Josh Chernick and a very talented young Joey King.  It sounds like this film will be in theatres soon and although there is nothing earth shattering  about it,  it is a good Canadian story that will not disappoint. I talked to someone else after the movie who said “It all felt natural.”  Eh?

Closet Monster

I didn’t know much about this film when I decided to catch it on Sunday morning. It fit my schedule. It went right over my head that it might be about that “closet”.  And really it wasn’t just that.  I also am reluctant to call it a “coming of age” film as that just seems so trite.  The film took us into the world of a young man struggling with separated parents, education choices,  sexual discover,  adolescent friendships and homophobia without making any one of those the only challenge.   I must admit that there were a couple of scenes where the acting, editing and escalating throbbing music put my pulse up and almost made me feel frantic.  I have never been so driven by the sound in a movie before.

Like the others, it is a Canadian made movie with Canadian talent. It was shot almost entirely in Newfoundland (without any Newfie accents).  Lots of closet analogies and symbolism on many fronts.  Great natural acting, direction and a credible screenplay. It won the best Canadian Feature Film award at TIFF in 2015.  The kid in the movie, when asked “Do you feel anything?” honestly replies “I don’t know”.  This kind of sums up the chore of maturing when  you are 18.  Maybe that job never ends.

 

Films I think you should definitely try to catch are Closet Monster, Into the Forest and Borealis.  Now where to catch them is the problem. They are not Hollywood blockbusters and I wonder where they will turn up.  It is really too bad that the movie house market is so dominated by the big name, big budget films.  Look for these Canadian-made gems and support them.

 

 

A Facebook Harambee

Harambee is a Swahili word that means “pull together”.  It is Kenya’s national motto. There are times when their government should pay more attention to it. I want to tell you about my spontaneous Facebook Harambee experience this week.

Yesterday afternoon I saw a post on my Facebook News Feed from a friend in Kenya. Tobias Katete is the Beach Management Unit chairman in a small community on the shore of Lake Victoria, a little district that has become dear to my heart over the past few years through projects supported there by the CanAssist African Relief Trust.

Tobias reported a fire that had wiped out the home and all the belongings of a family tScreenshot 2015-12-29 22.33.46hat included a newborn infant in the remote rural village of Agok, Kenya. He appealed to locals to help find shelter for this family. His request for assistance was directed to  people in his region and I wondered how many of them would have Internet access.  This is perhaps a wrong assumption since I now correspond regularly with friends in Africa through email and Facebook and I notice that his Facebook friend list is 95% African faces.

I saw the post and wondered how I could help. At 3pm I shared it on my Facebook page asking my friends to either send me or promise $10 to help this family. Within 8 hours I had either collected or received an IOU for about $400.  By midnight I had sent 25,000 Kenyan Shillings to Tobias who I trusted with the responsibility of seeing that this money will be appropriately used to help this family recover.  Since I continue to receive notes promising support, this will be augmented in the next couple of days with another transfer. As I went to sleep last night I knew that this community would be waking up to the news that friends – strangers – in Canada have shown this compassion.  Several of my African Facebook friends have also offered support to this family. It chokes me up when I think about this sharing of our humanity.

It is now not even 24 hours from the time I read the initial post. Your money has been transferred and received in Kenya and Tobias had purchased construction materials and delivered them to the family devastated by their loss.  How cool is that?

I sincerely thank my friends for their response to this request.  It is the best Christmas present that I could receive.  Your generosity validates the work that I do in Africa and encourages me to keep it up, despite the many challenges.  Just as I have witnessed Canada’s welcoming reception of Syrian refugees, it reinforces my belief that most of us have goodness and kindness in our hearts.  Every day I become increasingly aware that we are, indeed, a global community, made ever closer by our ability to correspond and reach out across oceans and borders.

This has been a satisfying way to wind up 2015.   Best wishes to all in the New Year.

John sig.jpg

 

 

 

(I have asked for only $10 from each person. As you can see, when we pull together – Harambee –  this adds up to something significant.  If you want to join us, the easiest way to send me $10 is by an Interac bank transfer or by PayPal. Message me for the correct email address to use for this. I promise that very cent will end up in Kenya to help this family recover from their misfortune.  This is a personal gesture, not an official CanAssist one.  CanAssist remains actively involved with community infrastructure development in this and other East African districts.  You can read more about CanAssist here.)

 

 

 

Cleaning up

I suspect that your family didn’t gather last month to celebrate World Toilet Day. You would have visited a toilet, however, likely without acknowledging that it was actually a luxury that many in the world don’t have. Try to imagine, next time you flush, what it would be like to live in a community where no sanitation facilities exist.

Access to improved sanitation is something that we take for granted. In Canada, nearly all the population has access to some sort of private sanitation facility. I say “nearly” since, sadly, there are still some aboriginal communities who still struggle to have access to clean water and sanitation – hopefully something that our new federal government will finally address.

Kadok CanAssist latrines

CanAssist funded toilets at the Kadok Secondary School

In cooperation with several schools and communities in East Africa, the Kingston-based, CanAssist African Relief Trust continues to help improve access to toilets and clean water in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It is sometimes a hard sell to donors. Toilets don’t seem to have any charismatic appeal. But they are an easily-achievable improvement to well-being that can reduce disease, cut health care costs, give some dignity, protect women and girls from assault and save lives.

Here are some United Nations figures posted recently in the Globe and Mail. Many other sources have similar figures. Improving sanitation definitely helps individuals and the society in which they live.

2.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to a private toilet and almost 1 billion of those defecate in the open.
Over 300,000 young children’s lives could be saved each year by clean water and improved sanitation.
Children will lose 272 million school days each year due to diarrheal illnesses.
For every $1 invested in eliminating open defecation, there is a $6 economic return.
Worldwide, more people die from unsanitary conditions than from AIDS, malaria and measles combined

In 2015, CanAssist installed clean water, toilets and washing facilities in ten communities and schools. These water and sanitation projects will serve at least 3000 people who otherwise would have had inadequate or no facilities. We almost always have a project related to sanitation being implemented.

For example, CanAssist is about to start a new latrine project at the Kabuhinzi School on Ukerewe Island in Lake Victoria. Several volunteers from the Kingston area visit this community regularly with a medical caravan. Hopefully the addition of improved sanitation to this community will head off some of the bowel infections that occur without proper latrines. Prevention can be more efficient and effective than treatment once disease occurs.

Kadok Toilets

Students at the Kadok Secondary school line up to use the old inadequate toilets prior.

 

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable when no sanitation facilities exist. Having to use open spaces and public fields when there is no toilet is not only degrading but it exposes women to the risk of assault. Teenage girls who have no school latrines miss classes for a few days every month because they have no place to tend to their menstrual sanitation needs.

Sanitation also includes accessibility to appropriate washing facilities. In many communities, there are no private area to wash or bathe. A hand washing opportunity near a latrine has been shown to be as essential and effective at preventing intestinal diseases as the toilet itself. CanAssist works to provide a source of clean water for schools along with latrines.

IMG_20150901_121834

This simple washing room has made a great difference to sanitation in the fishing village of Kamin Oningo, Kenya.

In two communities we have also built washroom facilities with showers from water drawn from the lake to an elevated tank. In Osiri Village, where we just installed such facilities, Tobias Katete, the Beach Management Unit chairman reports “ The facility is in use and now attracting even our neighbours who also come to bathe. Within the first month we have had 750 showers taken. For many, it is the first time they have had a private place to wash. More people are now using the latrine instead of the bush as it is close to the washrooms. We expect this will reduce spread of cholera in the community.” The community has formed a local P.U.C. to collect 5 shillings (6 cents) for use of the showers. This money will be used for maintenance and any necessary repairs. We are also soon installing a hand-washing tap beside the latrine to complete the sanitation effort here.

At Christmas and year-end, folks like to open their hearts and wallets to charities or to help others less fortunate. You might consider a tax-deductible gift to the CanAssist African Relief Trust. CanAssist pays no Canadian salaries or expenses and our Canadian administration expenses amount to about 5%.

There will be no doubt that your donation to CanAssist will benefit East African men, women and children directly.

 

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

CanAssist’s investment in African infrastructure boosts local economy

Infrastructure.  In the last few weeks Canadians, during a long election campaign, have heard their now newly-elected Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, and the Liberal party talking about it. In fact, reporters couldn’t ask Trudeau any question without ending up at his talking point which is ““Every dollar we spend on public infrastructure grows our economy, creates jobs, and strengthens our cities and towns.”

“What time is it, Justin?”  “I’m glad you asked that question, Peter. We think it is time to run a deficit to invest in infrastructure because every dollar we spend … ”

We got the point. I happen to agree with it. And it appears that a majority of Canadians did too. Trudeau’s Liberals were elected with a majority government.

Since its inception In 2008, the CanAssist African Relief Trust has been investing in infrastructure in East Africa for exactly that reason.  We have built school classrooms, bought hospital equipment, constructed toilets, provided clean water catchment and bought school desks and books.

12077310_10154277809299937_1675104093_nWe know, because we visit the communities we help, that this is making a difference to the men, women and children who live there.  Better educated girls are more likely to become self reliant, have better opportunities for employment and be more informed as mothers. Children who learn about the benefits of sanitation, clean water and sexual responsibility will be able to apply that learning to manage themselves, their families and lead in the community.  People who can read and access the Internet will make more informed decisions about their governments.  In short, improving the infrastructure relating to education, health and sanitation will allow the “human capital” any community to flourish.

Another benefit that is not quite so obvious is that by providing funding for these projects, CanAssist donors also have the opportunity to give work to many folks who otherwise are unemployed.  We don’t send goods made in Canada or old books or microscopes.  We send money.  Our African associates tell us what they need and we respond with funding.  Almost all of our money is spent in Africa, our unavoidable Canadian administrative expenses being in the range of five per cent.

When we build a classroom or a latrine in Africa, the project purchases the materials locally and employs local labor. Amuge Akol is one of our associates in Olimai, Uganda where we are currently constructing two latrines at a clinic where previously the toilets were falling apart and full,  (can you imagine no clean toilets at a clinic?) She recently reported that, in addition to improving the sanitation for staff and patients, the project has given several people work. “The project has provided 3 months employment to 12 people who otherwise would probably not send their kids to school this term or have no income for their families.”  The total cost to accomplish this, to CanAssist donors, by the way has been a meagre $6000.

Some of the desks being locally made for the Hope School in Mbita, Kenya.

Some of the desks being locally made for the Hope School in Mbita, Kenya.

In another Kenyan community CanAssist is in the process of having desks constructed for a local school. In 2013, we completed classrooms at the Hope School but the building has been without furnishings.  CanAssist, is having 200 chairs and 100 metal-framed desks locally built to furnish the empty Hope School classrooms as well as others at the school.  This project will provide durable furnishings for the school but it is also employing three workmen over several months and acquire materials locally.  The community benefits twofold – employment and infrastructure.

This is what the Liberals are proposing to boost our Canadian economy…only the money for this will come by running a deficit rather than from well-wishers from Uganda.

“Why should individual Canadians support projects like this in Africa through organizations like CanAssist?” you ask. “Doesn’t our government give money for development in poor nations?”

The short answer to that is “Not enough.”

ODA 2012In 1969, Canada’s own Lester Pearson headed a commission at the UN that determined and recommended that poverty could be significantly reduced or eliminated in the developing world if the rest of us applied 0.7 percent of our Gross National Income (GNI) to Official Developmental Assistance (ODA). Many countries have achieved that goal.  What has Canada  done?  Despite repeatedly committing to reach this goal, the highest Canada ever reached was about 0.5 per cent in 1986. Over the last few years, as other countries increased their assistance to record highs, Canada’s contribution to ODA has actually dropped below .028 per cent of the GNI.  Not the kind of record internationally to be proud of.

And do you know how the Harper government was able to present, in an election year, a balanced budget? In part, it was by reducing or freezing spending on ODA, and actually not spending over 125 million dollars that were already approved for development work.  It is easier to balance your budget if you simply just don’t honour your commitments to poor countries.

Your gift to CanAssist can help provide tangible resources to East African communities and, at the same time, stimulate the local economy by providing employment.  We welcome your support of the work we do though tax-deductible donations by mail or online.

Getting my Canada back…

Today I am proud to be Canadian. More proud than usual, that is.

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau carries a young Justin into 24 Sussex, where he will soon end up again as our Prime Minister. How cool is that?

Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau carries a young Justin into 24 Sussex, where he will soon end up again as our Prime Minister. How cool is that?

The Canadian electorate has resoundingly chosen a new government led by the Liberal party but more pointedly by a vigorous, young, positive and somewhat idealistic leader in Justin Trudeau.

This government will, no doubt, make mistakes along the way and it will take a lot of time and effort and trial and error to get all those jobs done to bring Canada back to who we fundamentally believe we are deep in our hearts.

I am excited to see many capable men and women elected to parliament and particularly pleased to turn the reins over to the generation that will have to deal with the policy decisions made in the next four years. It seemed  like my Liberal vote was giving control over to my kids and that felt very good.

2013-11-16 00.55.23-1

Canada’s House of Commons, Ottawa.

In addition, we have basically overthrown the sitting government in a peaceful, orderly way.  Do you know how significant that is?  I have worked in Bosnia and Kenya and Uganda where voters feel this is impossible.  The despair I have seen from young, frustrated citizens is indeed sad.  In so many countries in the world, where a democratic process is ostensibly in place, the electorate still feels powerless. Governments are corrupt and cling to power with money and threats and manipulation.  As our Canadian election campaign began it appeared that the the Conservatives had much more funding available to them to promote their candidates.  But money did not make the difference.  The groundswell of ABC – Anything But Conservative – and social media posts to encourage people to vote for change proved more powerful than money and scare tactics.  World, take note.  It can be done.

I am not so naive to believe there will not be snags and scandals and missteps by this government but I am eager to give them a chance. One of my friends posted a list of things that this government  will need to do to keep all their promises and it ended with “walk on water”.  At least we are starting out with a leader who appears to be honestly transparent, inclusive and progressive.  You have four plus years, Justin.  We have given you a chance to make us even prouder than we feel today.

Bubbles II…an answer perhaps?

As a result of my last blog entry, friends have responded with information about a local organization that is working to help Syrian refugees come to Canada – Kingston area in particular.

The group recommended by two of my friends is the Four Rivers Presbytery at Seeley’s Bay.

Lori Rand reports:

A small group of us here in Kingston are mobilizing.  We are partnering with a local organization that has brought one family to Kingston in July, and are in the process of getting ready to receive another family at the end of September.  They are currently in a bunker in Lebanon.  Learn more about who they are and their story here.

This incredible work has been done by Dawn Clarke, a Minster at the Perth Road United Church, and a team from the Four Rivers Presbytery in Seeley’s Bay, and the Kingston Islamic Society.  They still need $25,000 to make this happen – to sustain the financial one-year commitment to the current family, and have the funds for the second family.  The hard work of receiving approval from Citizenship and Immigration Canada is already done, but missing link is the financial resources.

Here’s where you can donate.  This money goes directly to getting this family to Kingston and supporting the family that just arrived.  If you are more comfortable writing a cheque, information can be found here in the left hand column. 

Rick Cairns adds this information:

John, I can assure you that aside from the cost of printing some pamphlets and setting up a website, this group is putting every single dollar raised toward sponsoring and settling these families.
An overpaid CEO, you ask? In fact, Save A Family From Syria is a 100% volunteer group.
As far as having “a concrete plan in place to actually bring a refugee family or families to Canada”, you’ll be pleased to know that one family is here, with children starting school next week, and another family (with 4 children) will be arriving in the last week of September.
It is the intention of this group to continue to sponsor more families in the future.

I have reviewed all this and made a donation to this group.  I will await other responses to see if there are more local groups doing something similar.  I encourage you to look into this one, however, and open your hearts and your wallet to help them achieve their goals. It’s the Canadian way, is it not?

 Once again – Here’s a quick link where you can donate right now using a credit card to a local group actively sponsoring Syrian refugee families to come to Kingston area. Tax receipts are issued for donations to this cause.

Image description
Image description
Image description
Image description

As the crisis in Syria enters its fourth year, the Aljalim family needs your help.

Bubbles, not bodies, on the beach…please.

I would like to think that there is something that I could do to help the Syrian refugee situation that seems to have suddenly burgeoned into a major humanitarian crisis.  Of course, this is not really the case. The situation has been escalating for months, if not years, and the bandaids that the western world has applied to this gaping wound have done little to save the thousands who are scrambling for safety and security or the many who have already died in their attempts to find freedom for themselves and their families.

It is almost embarassing to see our Canadian electioneering politicians using this as campaigning opportunities.  I am definitely not a Conservative or Harper supporter, but our collective anger toward the current government, expressed as “why has our Canadian government done more already?” is counterproductive and also answered by the reality that most of its citizens, you and I, have been somewhat oblivious to the problem, sidetracked by the millions of our tax dollars that are being  spent to investigate and prosecute Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallen.  Pathetic, isn’t it?

I am not that confident in the promises of any of the political parties running in the upcoming Canadian federal election. They all promise more. Those promises are a bit hollow given past government aid and the obvious logistical legal hurdles that any refugee or immigrant has to jump to get into Canada. We are not the country with open arms and hearts that we would like to think we are. And it doesn’t matter if individuals are willing to donate to local initiatives to help bring refugee families to our communities if the government red tape is impeding that.

I have looked at several charity websites but can find no specific plans that would assure me that my donated dollar is going directly to help a refugee family from Syria.  I have written a letter of inquiry to one local initiative but received no response yet.  I have found a couple of websites of groups that say they are motivated to help Syrian refugees but exactly how they plan to do it or what their financial is to accomplish this is not evident.

In the past I have donated to the Humanitarian Coalition but I think that this is appears to be a clearing house for donations to Care Canada, Oxfam and Save the Children.  They take their cut for promotion and it would seem to make more sense to select the other charity directly and donate to it without the 15% cut that this group takes just to be a relay.  FYI, in 2014, Care Canada had a revenue of over $100,000,000, 31% of it from government.  It spent over $35,000,000 in salaries (one is over $250,000) and another $4,000,000 on consulting and professional services. Oxfam had revenue and expenditures in 2014 in the realm of $23,000,000 with four employees making more than $120,000, $1,800,000 in fundraising expenses and about $650,000 in professional and consulting services.  I run an unrelated charity funding infrastructure work in Africa and I know that admin expenses are definitely necessary in order to carry out the charitable work. I am also aware of the need for accountability to donors and disciplined accountability for expenditures.  I think that folks should take some note and be aware of where exactly their money is going when they donate to a charity.  You can search for current information on any registered Canadian charity on the CRA website ( http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/chrts-gvng/lstngs/menu-eng.html)  It is worth a look.

I wonder how I can best help people fleeing from Syria as refugees.

Now.

Please help me by suggesting a registered Canadian charity with a track record of spending at least 80% of their money directly on their charitable programming (in this case, the direct support of a refugee family or families),  don’t have a CEO making $100,000, and  have a concrete plan in place to actually bring a refugee family or families to Canada (not just the will to do so).  I will be happy to investigate it, lend support and encourage my friends to do the same if I can be assured that my support will be effectively spent.

Bubbles in the sand on Ellington Beach, PEI

Bubbles in the sand on Eglington Beach, PEI

Sharing good news from Kadok Secondary School in Uganda

I started today with a delightful email from a school in rural Uganda that we are helping through the CanAssist African Relief Trust.  Kadok MapAt this remote area near Kumi, the community is trying to improve educational opportunities for students of secondary school age who have no local school to attend.

In Africa, most kids who go to secondary school, attend boarding schools. This is deemed to be a better education as the students are kind of corralled at the school and not as easily distracted by other activities or even household duties demanded of them when they are at home.  For girls this is also thought to be more important so that they are not subjected to sexual advances or even abuse.   Unfortunately the cost of attending a boarding institution is prohibitive for many.

In some communities there is an attempt to provide day schools when boarding facilities are not close by or out of the financial reach of so many.  Students attending these schools sometimes feel like second class citizens. When I visit them I let them know that day schools are by far the most common form of secondary education in Canada and are by no means inferior.

Parents and community members at Kadok are trying to build up classes for teens in their district.  They are quite prepared to sacrifice to have their kids become better educated.  The school operates out of some temporary buildings and rooms at the back of stores along the village street.

These are the deplorable sanitation facilities previously the only accessible toilets for the students at Kadok Secondary School.

These are the deplorable sanitation facilities previously the only accessible toilets for the students at Kadok Secondary School.

They have had no sanitation facility that can be used by the students at the school (or by others who live along this street or frequent the village for shopping).  CanAssist is building latrines to help with this deficiency and hopefully improve sanitation for both the pupils and the community.

This progress report is a real treat to me and I hope that our supporters find it equally delightful.  This is only one of many projects currently underway with CanAssist funding.

The total cost of this will be about 20,000,000 Ugandan Shillings ( approximately $8000 Can)

The work for community projects like this one is all done by hand. And with bare feet!

The work for community projects like this one is all done by hand. And with bare feet!

In July, CanAssist mounted a challenge to our donors and were excited with a response that netted over $20,000 in donations, a number that will be matched by the Sasamat Foundation in Vancouver.

The Kadok school will be the first of many communities that will benefit from these gifts to CanAssist.  They have already received half of their allotment and today sent photos of the progress so far.  Notice that the work is all done manually and with no access to safe work gear.

Paul Abunya reports some of the challenges they have encountered including:

  • Latrine 4During the digging of the pit, the bedded rock got blocked reducing the speed of digging.
  • Also trucks could get stuck on muddy grounds as we were ferrying building materials.
  • It took time for the beam and Nero cement to set. Extending days to put the slab since its rainy season.
  • Despite the challenges we have accomplished the following:
    1. There is overwhelming feelings and support from the community.
    2. Community has donated more land for the expansion of the school.
    3. There has been continuous increase in enrolment of students.

Things are moving ahead.  Labourers in the community are being provided with some small work, construction materials are purchased locally and eventually the community will have toilets for the first time.

Thank you to our CanAssist supporters – feel good about what you are doing to help.

CanAssist African Field Representative, Daniel Otieno visited the school in May 2015 to confirm project details.

CanAssist African Field Representative, Daniel Otieno visited the school in May 2015 to confirm project details.