I had a message from Uganda today that Josephine died last night.
Neighbour helps Josephine wash her hands before we have afternoon tea.
Josephine Apoo was a woman whom I met last time I was in Uganda in the remote community of Olimai. No one knew exactly how old she was but she was well over 100, perhaps as old as 110 – remarkable in a country where the average life expectancy is about 60. “She was here when people ran around wearing no clothes at all,” I was told. The stuff of which early African stories are made.
Her neighbours were always looking out for her. She would join them for tea or a bit of food, walking with a stick from her house. We shared tea and some mango one bright October afternoon in 2013.
The last time I saw her she was heading home into a brisk wind. A storm was threatening. She was pretty sturdy against the wind. The image of her heading into the wind, over 100 years old, still being strong and independent is one that I will never forget.
My friend in Uganda asked that I join them in celebrating her life. Worth celebrating, indeed. My condolences to her many loved ones in Olimai. I feel privileged to have met her.
Josephine – October 2013. Died March 18, 2014 at well over 100 years old. Olimai, Uganda.
Our July 2013 drive to fund two water projects in East Africa went over the top!
Students at the Nyandema Secondary School have to walk about 5 km every day to get water… and then it is from this muddy river. CanAssist will fund four rainwater catchment tanks at the school to provide a clean accessible water supply.
Earlier in the month, we were challenged by the Sasamat Foundation, a charitable organization in Vancouver B.C. with the offer that they would match donations received by CanAssist in July that were allocated to a rainwater collection projects at the Olimai Health Clinic and the Nyandema Secondary School in Nyatike District, Kenya.Well, our supporters rose to the occasion and as of July 31 we have collected $6708 in donations toward these projects through our 2013 Sasamat Challenge. Donors will be pleased that the first $5000 will be matched by Sasamat. Even better, Sasamat has offered another $10,000 toward these projects. Great news for CanAssist and the project partner communities in East Africa.
CanAssist will fund construction of guttering on this building and provide rainwater storage tanks to help the Nakiwaate community acquire clean water.
The good news doesn’t end there. With the money donated this month toward rainwater collection projects, we are able now to fund THREE of our approved 2013 water projects at the Olimai Clinic in rural Uganda, the Nyandema Secondary School in Nyatike District, Kenya and the T.A.Crusade Institute of Professional Studies in Nakiwaate Village, Uganda.
We are all excited.
We are in the process of signing the Memoranda of Understanding with the groups and will forward the money to them by mid-August so that the projects can be started as soon as possible (and before the anticipated rainy season in October and November).
CanAssist extends thanks to all who supported this effort and to the Sasamat Foundation for their generous funding and confidence in CanAssist to get this work done!
Here are some responses we have received from these groups when they were notified of this funding availability on August 1.
From Amuge Akol at Olimai Clinic : “I woke up to heart racing news. We are so hapi with the successful fund-raising drives. We shall write directly to supporters to express our our sincere grattitude. I will go to town tomorrow and process the MOU and return it. Thx a million.”
From Ronald Lutaaya in Nakiwaate Village, Uganda: “We are so happy to hear this great news! Thanks so much for your effort in making this dream project come true. You have saved life in this poor community. I have just passed on the news to our Staff Members and some of our beneficiaries. They are all thankful and happy about this news.”
From Hellen Omollo, Nyandema Secondary School: “We are very happy indeed to hear from you.Once againwe do say THANK YOU for considering the life and health of our Nyandema students and the local community a priority. Good luck, good health and Gods peace and Mercy be part of you in yourdeserving work to East Africa.”
Canassist has had an ongoing relationship with the Olimai Clinic for the past three years. Here, some Canadian CanAssist supporters visit the clinic in 2012.
No wonder English as a second language is challenging. Sometimes I have trouble with it myself.
I wanted to write a blog item about two projects that CanAssist has funded recently in Kenya and Uganda. Both were to construct a roof on a building. So there are two roofs. Does that seem right? When I say the word, it sounds like “rooves” – but then that doesn’t look right either. The plural of hoof is hooves; thief, thieves; half, halves; but rooves? My word processor spell checker rejects this spelling. So I looked it up. It turns out that either spelling is correct, but that “rooves” is the archaic form. I’m not sure whether to take that as a complement on my historical knowledge or an insult that I am getting to be…archaic.
Regardless, it seems that the roofing business has been stimulated by two projects in Africa, thanks to CanAssist.
The first was for St Gorety Secondary School in Nyatike District of Kenya. As often happens in Africa, this community received some funding for a needed classroom at their school from a local governmental initiative. CanAssist was already building one classroom so they thought that they would add the second at the same time to save costs. Unfortunately the grant only covered the cost of the floor and walls. The second classroom was left without a roof and the community did not have access to the $3500 needed to put one on.
They became worried. Bricks that are used to make these buildings are all locally made and if not protected with a roof when the rains come, the structure may become damaged. Students at Loyalist Collegiate and Vocational Institute (LCVI) and Kingston Collegiate and Vocational Institute (KCVI) heard about the plight of fellow students in Kenya and took up the cause. Through their fundraising efforts, CanAssist has received donations that will cover the costs…and cover the building. It didn’t take long for the Kenyan school to get moving with this once they knew the funds would be available. This week I received notice that the roofing is completed and the classrooms are able to be used. The Kingston secondary school students, through their Quarters for Classrooms campaign were able to raise the roof!
Volunteers from Queen’s Health Outreach celebrate the completion of CanAssist funded classrooms at the St Gorety School in Nyatike District, Kenya. Students from LCVI and KCVI in Kingston raised the money to “raise the roof” on this building.
In addition, in early June, a group of CanAssist supporters from Kingston and Whitehorse Yukon (yes we have supporters across Canada) headed to Eastern Uganda to visit two communities there where CanAssist has funded projects at schools and a clinic. These travellers managed to raise about $9000 in donations which were spread between a secondary school in Kyabazaala, Uganda and the Olimai Health Centre. The clinic needed equipment but the priority was to put a roof on a new building for the facility. Like the St Gorety School, walls had been constructed but the money to roof the building was not there and the concern was that the structure would become degraded by rain and weather the longer it was left uncovered. In early June, I sent the money for the project. The Olmai Clinic in Uganda was quick to put CanAssist money to use to roof their new building. Last week photos arrived of the roofing completed. When these folks get to work, things happen quickly. The new structure, along with other improvements that have come through CanAssist, will raise the status of this facility from a Level 2 to a Level 3 clinic – thereby qualifying it for increased programming for the community.
The Olmai Clinic in Uganda was quick to put CanAssist money to use to roof their new building.
So, the work has been done. The school and the clinic have new buildings completed thanks to the generosity of Canadian supporters of the CanAssist African Relief Trust. Now all that is left is for me to decide – roofs or rooves in the report. Since my spelling checker rejects the latter, I will go with roofs. And bring myself into the 21st century.
As a reward for making it to the end of this post, here is a CanAssist Youtube video about the St Gorety School roof project with music by the St Gorety choir. Mission Accomplished.