Ebenezer Resort / Ugandan Women's Concern Ministry
The Uganda Women’s Concern Ministry in Mbale Uganda. This organization reaches out to as many as 2000 families in the Mbale district and to organizations through out Eastern Africa. The UWCM's vision; "A society where the most vulnerable women, children and people living with HIV/AIDS are empowered to live a dignified life”. This organization is an African NGO (non governmental organization) founded in 1991 and directed by Edith Wakumire. We chose to assist the UWCM in providing facilities for economic progress. A small conference facility has started that will be used as an income source for the UWCM. Our intent is to providing facilities for conferences and lodging for guests who are visiting the organization. These facilities will provide employment for at risk individuals as wall as assist in the on going sustainability or the overall organization.
Starting with a firm foundation
The construction project begins with the plan to build several small round huts with grass roofs and easily maintained brick walls. The plot is laid out in the field already owned by the UWCM and here work is being done for the foundation for the huts. The limestone in Uganda for building is called "hard core" and is the basis for a footing allowing drainage of ground water from the structure. About 12" of stone needs to be broken up into pieces and placed in the trenches similar to a footing below a wall in our western construction.
Setting the floor
The footings are in place and foundation walls have been laid with locally made burnt clay bricks. Next the students assist in the setting of stone for the floor and plumbing piping for actual flush toilets. On top of these stones a floor will be poured and then the brick building walls constructed.
Moving bricks here then there
One of the most fun things to do on our building projects is to move bricks. There are no skid loaders like in the states simply many people working together. Here we see bricks being moved from one pile and stacked in another place most likely to only be moved in few days to a new resting spot. Ask any of our workers what they did in Uganda they may reply, "We moved some bricks from here and then moved them again to there."
Look I'm a mason!
Specer tries his hand at laying bricks. These bricks are larger than the common burnt clay bricks. The UWCM had a donation of a mechanical brick making press that makes these bricks. The brick units are uniform and require no baking, which in the creation of the burnt clay style brick burns up much valuable timber. Spencer found why the masons in Uganda demand such the high wage of $2.30/day. This trade is really difficult to master.
In 2005 I had the opportunity to visit with one of the management staff of the Tororo Cement works. In our conversation I was amazed to find out there are thousands of yards of concrete poured in Uganda each year but there were at the time six cement mixers in all of Uganda. This work is done one bag at a time with the help of a strong back.
Who's that turkey over there?
The construction sight in Uganda is a little different than in the US. It is not uncommon to have the local livestock from turkeys to cows and many goats inspecting your progress. These guys were very picky about our progress.
Home at the Wakumire's
The group of 15 had a very different experience than our past projects. Normally we stay in a hotel each night and travel by truck to the job sight each day. In Mblae our entire group of 15 found lodging with the UWCM founder's family home next to the project sight. It was a bit cramped as you may imagine but the interaction and conversations with the Wakumire's and their village neighbors were priceless.
Up goes the roof poles
We designed the facility to look like a mud huts complete with a grass roof. Who wouldn't like to boast they stayed in a real grass roof hut when visiting Africa? Although our rooms will eventually have a flush toilet and a cold shower something you would never find in the typical mud home.
The rafters cut and tied in place
Local timbers were cut from the neighboring tree lines. This project relied on workers from the neighborhood as well as resources from the neighbors own land.
The best darn grass in Uganda
One thing we did not utilize the local product for was the grass for the roof. A good grass roof will last about 10-12 years with proper maintenance. We learned of this grass from some of the local trades people who know about grass. A journey of about 70 miles or 4 hours away brought us to the best source of grass (for a roof) in all of Uganda. This roof could last up to 20-25 years and looks great!
A few members of the Mbale "ADVANCED TEAM"
This project was not totally finished when we had to travel back to the US. We left with the assurance that our new friends from Uganda knew our hearts and why we had come to their country. Ours was a journey of two purposes one to provide a much needed resource for their families and also to build relationships with and better understand those of Uganda.