Monday, April 13, 2009

Uganda ~ Reconnaissance

My most recent visit to Uganda was an effort to meet with as many new, potential collaborators as I could in order to lay the foundation for future activities. It proved lucrative beyond my imagination and I was able to meet with a number of enthusiastic and inspired individuals with whom I think SCI will have a productive relationship.

Solar Connect Association (SCA) ~ Kawesa Mukasa has been a great solar ally for years, and we had the pleasure of working together last summer on the Integrated Cooking Workshop in Obia, in northern Uganda, which we plan to follow-up on together with Max and Mary Lou Ozimek this August. SCA remains busy with local projects and is enthusiastic to work with SCI in Uganda. Mukasa does a lot of field work and struggles with regular communications, but it is beneficial to have an experienced and knowledgeable solar colleague in Uganda as SCI attempts to plan the Safe Water / Integrated Cooking Workshop I have proposed, which will now likely take place in 2010

Mukasa and Olivia devote all of their time to solar and integrated cooking projects in Uganda. While based in the capital city of Kampala, most of their work is done from the village of Mbarra, about an hour and a half outside of Kampala. SCA is in the process of developing a resource center where people and organizations interested in solar cooking can come for trainings, obtain materials and even stay on the grounds.

United Religions Initiative (URI) ~ I was impressed by the four young representatives from URI with whom I met for an introductory face-to-face. URI has been working globally on environmental, community and conflict resolution issues since 2000. URI is keen to incorporate solar cooking into their programs and have offered to liaison for SCI on the ground in Uganda to facilitate contacts with local environmental and governmental organizations, which is an imperative that we do not currently possess. This is a dedicated and enthusiastic group and I believe that they will be an asset to SCI's expanded international program development in Uganda.

Mukasa with URI, demonstrating the pot being cool to the touch while cooking food in a parabolic cooker.

Lion of Water for Sudan, Inc. ~ On a fluke, I had the honor of meeting an individual who was a part of the community coined The Lost Boys, following the horrific war and genocide in Sudan some 25 years ago. After many years in refugee camps in East Africa, the luckiest of these Lost Boys was brought to the US and Australia where they obtained lodging, jobs and an education through the benefit of sponsors. Salva Dut used these second chance advantages to found Water for Sudan, Inc. which is a non-profit that builds wells for the rural villages still struggling to rebuild themselves in southern Sudan. Water for Sudan lacks the ability to adequately test the water that their wells produce, so I was happy to give Salva's small staff a detailed training session on water testing with the PML, and provided them with 8 Colilert test tubes and 15 Petrifilms and pipettes, which they will practice incorporating into their safe water program in southern Sudan. I believe that this is precisely the type of program that the PML is suited for, and I look forward to hearing of the successes that Water for Sudan experiences with their new found water testing technology. As Bob Metcalf likes to say, we can provide the missing link in safe water programs around the world.

Note: I highly recommend the novel “What is the What” by Dave Eggers on this topic.

I also met with a number of other organizations, like Peace Corps Uganda who will be training volunteers in solar cooking and water pasteurization as a result of our meetings; Disabled Technicians of Uganda, who have been and implementing solar cooking and solar food drying projects for disabled and disadvantaged people for many years; and World Concern where Dr. Valery Shean has organized a successful Peace Resettlement Project in the region and is interested in incorporating solar cooking and water pasteurization into the reformatory programs with the Karamojan tribe.

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