6 a.m in Kampala, Uganda

It's great to be back in the Drop in the Bucket offices in Gulu. Even if they could use some more furniture.
It’s 6AM in Uganda.  It always takes be a few days to get by internal clock reset for the other side of the world. So here I am… awake with the birds.   I’m sitting outside my hotel room.  It’s pretty cool this morning, probably because it’s been raining all night.  I just checked my email for the first time, only to receive a half-dozen or more emails from our local teams, who are awaiting instruction.  And as, usual, I am now reworking my entire schedule.

Nothing ever seems to go as planned once I’m in the field.  I have one crew that just informed me they have finished with their other work ahead of schedule and are ready to start any time now on five projects they are doing for us any time now (a few weeks ahead of schedule).  That’s rare around here, so I’m definitely rolling with it.  Generally, with this work, the teams are behind schedule, especially since the rainy season has begun.

My original plan was to go directly to Sudan and visit the next five schools that we will be working with there.  I have their completed School Water Application forms and, according to the info they provided, they are all four incredibly needy (two schools are extremely far from any water source and the other two are drinking Nile river water, because it’s all they have near by).  So the next step there was going to be visiting the site to survey the situation and insure the info they gave is correct.

There is actually a lot to do before the crew arrives to get the community involved. I will have the head teacher gather the community leaders for our first meeting, where I will explain the project and how we work.  We require a lot of participation from the community.  It ranges from rounding up the local materials we will need, helping unload the trucks, assisting with manual labor during construction and even feeding the crew while they are installing the well.  It’s all part of ensuring that the community feels a commitment to the project and will really take ownership once we leave.  But it’s a lot of work. Sometimes a community is happy to uphold their part of the bargain and other times, we spend half the day threatening to leave with the crew.  But at the end of it all, the strategy seems to work very well and really insures the sustainability of each project.

But now, since this Ugandan team is anxious to start on these project here, I’m pushing Sudan back a few weeks and going directly to Lira and Oyam district of northern Uganda to get the 5 schools there mobilized and ready for the crew.  That will take a few days and several visits to each location, which are all very remote.   **Wow the sun just came up and it’s so beautiful and clear this morning. No wonder the birds were singing so happily.  I’m actually glad I was up to see this after all.**

Today’s schedule before traveling to the north consists of a visit to our tile engraver to discuss the new tiles I need, another meeting regarding some parts we’re having imported, a third meeting with someone from the crew I’ve been talking about that’s getting started on these Ugandan schools.  One member of that team is handling the Good Hygiene and Safe Sanitation training that we will be conducting at the school simultaneously with the drilling.  I’ve brought him some training materials we will need go to go over this afternoon.   Then I’m off to the bookshop to stock up on some office supplies I will need for the field.  After all if that, I’m sure my guys I’m traveling with will have found us a good location to watch the quarter finals of the World Cup…..Spain is playing today and soccer is like religion here.

But now, as I go through the new schedule and start planning my week, I am beginning to shift my gears from LA to Africa.  It’s so different doing business here.  As much as I love working with the communities, it’s a lot of work.  I generally tend to talk fast in life, but here I have to slow everything down a lot, especially my language. I now have to focus on pronouncing my words fully (and using the T in “water” rather than a D).    That said, this is all becoming incredibly familiar to me these days.  Sometimes it seems like I’m in another state, instead of another country.  But I never get too comfortable because at any moment I can become all-too-aware that I’m not in Kansas anymore.  But today, I’m still in Kampala (the capital of Uganda), where there is power, showers, food I enjoy, and a decent cup of coffee.  So that’s my next stop.  COFFEE!!  I have a lot to do today so I better get my gears going.

Author: Stacey Travis

Founder and Executive Director of Drop in the Bucket a water charity building water wells and sanitation systems at schools in Africa.

One thought on “6 a.m in Kampala, Uganda”

  1. Stacey,

    The work you are doing is extraordinary. It takes incredible dedication, soul and passion for this cause to be traveling to the areas you are going and being 100% involved. Most do these things from afar without getting their hands dirty. You are in some of the most remote, dangerous parts of the world trying to make changes. Congratulations on founding an organization that is committed to one of the most fundamental and desperate needs in Africa – clean water.

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