I asked Kevin to put together a blog post for you about his week – and here it is:
Uganda is a beautiful country. It is very green and lush, and coming from Calgary in February this was a welcome sight. In the midst of this beauty, the people are desperately poor and have been oppressed for many years by dictators. Over the last 20 years, rebel groups in the north have forced thousands to flee to refugee camps.
Our team of 6 was working with a group called Connect Africa who was evangelizing and ministering to the refugee camps in the northern part of the country. We were there to plan a new central hub for their ministry. Much of the new site is to showcase examples of “appropriate and sustainable technologies” that are being introduced to the refugee camps. A new conference center will introduce these technologies to leaders of these refugee camps. Specifically, they were introducing things such as better outhouses, interlocking clay bricks, water filters built out of local materials, and new and better agricultural techniques.
We spent the first couple days learning the heart of the ministry and determining what role they wanted the new land to play. The land is 20 acres of rolling hills with an awesome view. They wanted a conference center for 100 people, accommodations for 60 guests and 20 staff. Plus they wanted a vocational school for a hundred people.
Our two surveyors spent the week investigating the site, preparing a topographical survey and laying out some new roads and buildings on the site.
The two architects worked on how big the buildings needed to be, where they should be located, while keeping the local site and culture context in mind.
The civil engineer and I worked on the water and drainage systems. This was a challenge since there was no running water or electricity to the site, and the small spring was located too far away from the buildings. So the only water source is roof collection. Flash rains occurred almost daily while we were there so we had to make sure this could be accommodated without washing out buildings (or the neighbours).
The ministry is well on its way to seeing this vision realized. They have started building the first building and were working on additional funding for the remaining portion of the construction. We were able to leave a powerpoint presentation describing the vision, the challenges, and the costs. They will be using this presentation to present to prospective donors who are arriving on site in 2 weeks.
When I’m caught up on sleep, I’ll start pulling together the design details so we can send it to the ministry in the coming months so construction can continue.
What a great trip!
If you’d like to see some more Uganda pictures, feel free to check out the facebook album. We’ll be adding more pictures over the next few days, so check back later too!