Why We Go: Relationships Matter

Why go? Sixteen pairs of feet connected with Ugandan dirt on July 30th, 2013, anticipating experiences as part of Ugandan Water Project’s Team #16, unaware of just how deep that dirt would sink.  No hammers, no shovels; just 5 senses and eager hearts. One of the misconceptions of humanitarian organizations is that people who have should go and do for people who lack.  Those going on short term trips are often asked, “What will you be doing?”  Tasks and accomplishment are seen as goals in helping others rather than understanding and partnership.  In reality, it’s much less about doing to cause a physical change and more about being to foster relationship between one human and another. If this is the perspective we should take when attempting to “be the change” and leave legacies of social justice, why does UWP take teams of volunteers to Uganda three times a year?  How do we respond to those who question the time, money, and effort of travel; why aren’t we wielding hammers and shouldering shovels? Because lasting change happens in the context of relationship. Relationships require face-to-face interaction where real conversation happens, where a genuine desire exists to know the answers to “How are you?” and “What do you dream of?” and “How can I help?”  They require that we patiently learn about another’s culture and stop looking at the world through our own lenses of how, when, why. They require time spent alongside, trekking down pitted paths to stagnant watering holes, witnessing human beings filling jerry cans of heavy water to carry the burden of death back to homes of mud,...

Bunk Beds or Business – How to help street kids in Kivulu

It happens every time we take teams to Uganda. Two days are spent in an unusual neighborhood of heaven called Kivulu (pronounced chee-voo-loo).  Here in this ramshackle community a group of young men- Uncles, who once lived on these streets now sacrifice all they have to rescue boys that now live the life the Uncles managed to overcome .   When our Ugandan Water Project teams come to this place they are overwhelmed by the experience.  The joy and reckless abandon they see on the boys faces when they are being loved on and mentored is authentic…and the anger and pain that flashes and lashes out at unexpected provocation is also authentic.  The Uncles themselves are an inspiration – they have no regular income and often no consistent home and nearly no earthly possessions – they work each day to mentor these boys. Our teams are trained to look for “sparklers” – key people that shine with their ability to bring freedom and transformation where they are.  Our teams hunt sparklers and then look for the opportunities to strengthen, stabilize and amplify those key people.  Bringing our teams to Kivulu is like bringing them to the Sparkler Convention.  The real challenge is often figuring out how best to help. I just got off the phone with one of our team leaders who is walking his team through this exercise right now.  There is a house in the city that the Uncles have managed to secure and raise some funds to pay the rent for one year.  They have a number of boys living in that home and many are enrolled...

Successful Failure – Matugga, UG

The steady putter of the old diesel motor purred in the background as Ugandan Water Project Team #11 rode in silence through the fresh morning air of Uganda. We had been in country about a week so the sights blurring past our windows were not shockingly new like they were a few days ago.  The now familiar smell of wood smoke carried on its usual conversation with the wind and I breathed it in with casual recognition and the familiarity of an old friend. We were on our way to Matugga, about 15 km from our guest house in Kampala. The team was excited and ambitious for the days adventure – we were planning on installing a rainwater collection system alongside the residents of the community it would serve. This project was especially meaningful to me and those on the team from Elim Gospel Church because it was our church that had come together to fund this project.  This was a great opportunity to meet some of the people we had chosen to help and build some real relationship. Our tired van crawled up the broken red dirt road that led up to the church and as we wrestled ourselves out of the cramped vehicle we were greeted enthusiastically by Pastor Joseph Aralitunga and a flash mob of beautiful young faces.  My daughter Emma and another team member were quickly swept away by the kids once they saw we had brought a new soccer ball . . . this was the experience we jokingly referred to as “death by children” being carried away with ones heart and soul quickly...
Moonlight School #50

Moonlight School #50

What’s so special about Moonlight Day & Boarding School in Zirobwe, UG?  In many ways it is just another example of a typical rainwater harvesting installation at a local school in rural Uganda – handmade brick building, iron sheeted roof and beautiful brown children smiling at us from inside simple classrooms. But, for the Ugandan Water Project, this site is anything but typical.     Located about 50km north of Kampala, the village of Zirobwe takes only a little over an hour to reach by car.  Typical of Ugandan communities, the village has only a short strip of red dirt road lined with simple brick and metal shops selling things like paraffin oil, sugar,  beans and of course airtime for cell phones (most often purchased in 5 and 10 cent increments).  The local population is on foot with an occasional motorcycle taxi or van packed with passengers bound for one place or another all at once. Moonlight is bigger than it’s first impression. The small building on the roadside doesn’t seem to be able to handle more than 70 students but our pre-site report says there are more than 400. The plot is long and narrow and behind the first is a second and a third block of classrooms and an open schoolyard with a large plastic rain cistern tank resting patiently on a cement pad- waiting to be fed from the gutters on the roof. This unassuming school is the site of Rainwater Tank 50. As neighboring families tend to chores in the nearby yards and a little toddler with no pants scratches at the packed clay soil...

UWP 5K Run/Walk Saturday April 23rd. 2011

Join us at Powder Mills Park, Rand Lodge in Pitsford, NY on Saturday, April 23rd for our 2nd Ugandan Water Project 5K Run/Walk.  Last year was a great event featuring live music, great food, Ugandan crafts and lots of great people enjoying the crisp spring morning and showing support for UWP. Download the Race Brochure (click here) Win Fundraising Prizes (click here) This year we are expecting more than 200 participants of all ages to run and walk the 5 kilometer route through scenic Powder Mills Park.  The event will again enjoy the precision and efficiency of our partnership with Fleet Feet Sports The morning will get started with registration at 7:30am at Rand Lodge with the 5K starting at 8:30am.  Kids can participate in the 1K Fun Run at 9:30am and enjoy medals for the top boy and girl finishers.  Participants have two options for registration.  The race fee is $18 in advance, $20 day of race, However – all participants are welcome to raise personal sponsorship and anyone with at least $50 in sponsorship will have their registration fee waived.  The top 3 fundraisers will win great prizes (ipod, portable DVD player and gift cards). Businesses who would like to share their support for the Ugandan Water Project with the Rochester Community are welcome to participate as Corporate Sponsors and also bring a team of runners. Click here to view our Coporate Sponsorship Options. Last year this event raised nearly $3,000 to help bring clean water to people in Uganda and this year our goal is to double that amount!  Get your friends, family and colleagues out...