Rwakobo

INTERVIEW WITH GIDEON MUHANGUZI ABOUT WORK IN RWAKOBO VILLAGE

Today we welcome Gideon, Director of Hopeland and Wells of Hope Schools, and our liaison to Rwakobo Village. I’ve known Gideon for about ten years when he was a teacher/tutor at Father’s House in Kampala. We’ve been working together on the schools since May 2019, when my bakery began a Pound for Pound program to provide food for Hopeland School and the Arise Africa Babies Home. I’m so glad to have a chance to chat with him about Rwakobo Village!

J: When and how did the village at Rwakobo come to your attention?

G: We visited it in 2018 when our church [Celebration Tabernacle Church in Mbarara] was doing outreaches to the poorest and most needy areas in our region.

J. What was the first thing Celebration Tabernacle did in the village?

G: Together, the church fed the hungry, built a few mud houses with iron sheets for those who slept in grass huts or were basically homeless, and talked to the parents about the dangers of forced child marriages and other associated vices.

J: How many people live in Rwakobo Village?

G: Almost 3,000 now!

J: What is life like for those living there?

G: They live hand to mouth, well below the poverty line [so below $2 per day]. They hardly have any clean water, getting food is a struggle, and they have no health facilities so they depend on herbs for the treatment of illnesses.

J: What impact has the school made on the lives of the villagers?

G: They have seen the importance of education! Forced early marriages have been reduced, as well as the behaviors associated with that [like abuse, early pregnancy and related complications]. The value of girls has been resurrected!

J: How will the new school building and the reopening of the school after the Covid lockdown affect the children who attend Wells of Hope?

G: Their lives were being threatened over the last year! Not only were schools closed, but churches were also closed so they began to lose hope. They fell back in their educational achievements [school had only just started its third-ever term], and were giving up! The news of the opening will be amazing to them!

J: What impact did the Covid lockdowns and the loss of the full school year have on the children. What negative effects did you see during the last year, and what negative impacts do you anticipate because of the “lost year?”

G: Some children were starving and malnourished. Some were abandoned by their parents in their houses and left alone. Others were forced into early marriage, early pregnancy, and some girls were exchanged for food. The girls who were forced into marriage will not be able to return to school [Wells of Hope only goes to Primary 6]. We also anticipate that the little tuition some parents were able to pay will be reduced, as the parents have lost what incomes they had during the pandemic. Additionally, the families had to eat any seeds that they were saving for planting after the rainy season, so there is little income on the horizon.

J: What difference would having access to clean water, as well as good sanitation and hygiene, have on the school and village?

G: If the village didn’t have to rely on seasonal wells [ponds] and had clean water, the incidence of disease and illness would be greatly reduced! Waterborne illness is one of the biggest problems in the village and the school and accounts for many lost days of class. Diarrhea kills many children in the village. Handwashing stations and clean pit latrines would also help a lot!

J: What is the greatest need in Rwakobo Village?

G: A bigger school so all the children can attend, and funds to pay the staff. Clean water and water easily available for washing. And improved homes for the families who live in grass huts or mud homes.

J: Thank you so much for all your work in this village — and for introducing us to it last year! We can’t wait to get back there as soon as Covid allows!

BEAUTY AND DESPERATION IN RWAKOBO VILLAGE

The road through Lake Mburo National Park to Rwakobo Village

The village at Rwakobo Rock, which we call Rwakobo Village but which doesn’t seem to have a formal name, is about 10km inside Lake Mburo National Park. It was founded as a place to relocate Rwandan refugees, and (apparently) forgotten. While there is another village inside that park that seems to have services, a decent (for a Ugandan village) road, and houses the employees of the various safari lodges, Rwakobo Village is spread out and isolated — by geography, and by culture.

Their isolation has led to an extremely high rate of HIV/AIDS and STDs. Syphilis, in particular, seems to be rampant and largely untreated. No hospice or other medical outreach serves the village. Water-borne diseases such as typhoid, as well as malaria and illnesses related to poor hygiene, are leading causes of sickness and death.

WHAT IS A WASH CAMPAIGN?

WASH = Water Access, Sanitation, and Hygiene

WATER IS THE FIRST URGENT NEED

But at the same time, Wells of Hope School and Celebration Tabernacle Church outreach are teaching best hygiene practices. Since almost half of people in Rwakobo Village practice open defecation (going to the bathroom outside), there is a great need for education and construction of safe pit latrines for the villagers as well. All of these things are interconnected and vital for health and safety of those living in this village.

Inside a round house in Rwakobo Village

THIS TYPE OF CAMPAIGN IS A MARATHON NOT A SPRINT!

We have been working in Uganda since 2009, and are committed to this project for the long haul. Just before the school closings and lockdown last year, Ten Eighteen Uganda built a kitchen and a small cistern — sufficient for daily use — at Wells of Hope School. Thanks to a generous donor, we now have the funds to install a 7,000 liter eco-brick tank at the new school building. Since Equal Aqua Uganda will be traveling several hundred kilometers from their usual area, we are hoping to raise money for at least one 10,000 liter tank for the village to be built at the same time.

But what are the long term goals in this WASH Campaign?

  1. At least 12 ten-thousand gallon tanks spread throughout the village, to catch rainwater that can be used for washing, cooking, and drinking (with purification techniques such as boiling).
  2. One deep-water well installed by the end of 2022, and four by the end of 2025.
  3. Conduct a village-wide hygiene campaign in 2021 in collaboration with Celebration Tabernacle Church and Wells of Hope School, to teach the importance of using best hygiene practices such as frequent handwashing, especially after defecation.
  4. Construct pit latrines in the community in collaboration with Celebration Tabernacle Church.

If you’d like to donate to our Clean Water for Rwakobo campaign, we’d love to have you partner with us to effect meaningful and lasting change in this devastatingly poor community. 100% of your donations go to the project! And we’d love your thoughts, comments, and prayers as we tackle this job — we can’t do it, but God can accomplish it!

FEBRUARY IS WATER MONTH!

Turn on the tap. What happens?

Clean water comes pouring out, ready for drinking, washing your hands, filling a pot, doing the laundry.

We really don’t even think about it.

But for the villagers in Rwakobo, there is no tap. There are no pipes. No wells. No clean water.

This is a “seasonal well.” It, and the others used by the 2,700 villagers, are natural or man-made depressions in the ground, filled by rainwater. Trenches dug in red dirt send more water into the stagnant pond.

Animals that live inside the Lake Mburo National Park use these “wells” (shallow ponds) also. They drink from them, cool off in them, use them to sneak up on prey. They defecate in and around them, and along the trenches where the rainwater flows.

The wells aren’t even very close to the village, meaning that they walk — mostly children — a mile or more to fill one or two jerry cans with filthy water, then return to their homes. The water is used for everything we use water for: cooking, washing clothes, sponge bathing, drinking.

t’s no wonder that water and feces born diseases that cause diarrhea are rampant.

DIARRHEA IS THE LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH OF CHILDREN UNDER 5 IN UGANDA…

WHAT ARE WE DOING TO HELP?

While our ultimate goal is to be able to have deep water wells to serve the village, our first step is to install Eco-Brick tanks. We have been able to secure funds for a 7,000 liter tank for the Wells of Hope School (thanks to a generous donation!), which will allow the children to have clean water for washing and cooking, and drinking with purification techniques. The children are being taught basic hygiene at the same time, so that hand washing with soap becomes second nature.

WE WANT TO FUND AT LEAST ONE 10,000 LITER TANK FOR THE VILLAGE IN FEBRUARY!

We are partnering with Equal Aqua Uganda, a UK/UG partnership, to build these tanks. Equal Aqua has been working in Eastern Uganda since its founding last year, but have agreed to travel to Rwakobo Village for this project. We would love to take advantage of this by installing more than one tank!

Eco-bricks are made by recycling plastic drink bottles, packing them with sand, and re-capping them to form a solid brick. They are then cemented into the structure, creating a stable tank to hold much more water than a cement-only tank would hold. The tank is filled with rainwater from the roof, a top keeps the tank clean, and a spigot at the bottom allows for the water to be drawn off and used.

A 7,000 LITER TANK COSTS $735, AND A 10,000 LITER TANK COSTS $1150

WE CAN DO IT! With your help, we can raise the money to kick off the WASH project in Rwakobo Village.

WASH = WATER ACCESS, SANITATION, & HYGIENE

We can save lives, and IMPROVE the lives of these extremely impoverished people.

WATER CRISIS IN RWAKOBO VILLAGE, LAKE MBURO

There are times when you find yourself horrified at what you don’t know…. This is one such time.

I have been to many villages in central and eastern Uganda, largely with Hospice. I’ve been inside tiny slum homes: 8×8’ where 9 people live. I’ve been in traditional round homes with thatch roofs, and regional hospitals that are best not remembered. But this village… It takes the cake.

We knew we were there for a reason as soon as we got there. We have focused on food and education, and our primary goals remain — but we have realized that if the people of the village are barely surviving, are, in fact dying of diseases brought on by contaminated water or lack of food — we also have an obligation to those people who surround the school.

We were able to get the kitchen built in record time, and on Monday, March 9, began feeding the children of Wells of Hope Primary School. It was a great day!

First day of FOOD!

But on Friday, March 13, we couldn’t feed the children. Why? There was no CLEAN WATER. Anywhere.

Over the last few days, we have been gathering information on the water situation. I learned what a “seasonal well” actually is: a depression in the ground that’s dammed up and fed by muddy trenches when it rains. The animals use it. The people use it. It’s contaminated and full of disease, amoebas, and parasites. Not even the survivalists on Naked and Afraid would drink it!

Seasonal “well”

Yesterday, they were able to catch enough rainwater to use for the meal, but today they had to fetch it from this “well.” This video shows the collecting of the water that was used to feed our kids…. That’s just NOT OK. Yes, they boiled it. It’s still not OK!

We have begun an EMERGENCY FUNDRAISING CAMPAIGN to get both a cistern for the school and a well for the village. The cistern will allow a clean catch of water during rainy season so that the porridge and any drinking water will be free of contamination. A well will give the entire village of 2700+ people fresh, clean water ALL THE TIME. During dry season, the school will use it for their daily needs, and everyone will benefit.

IN FACT, IT WILL QUITE LITERALLY CHANGE THEIR LIVES! TODAY, WE SENT THE FUNDS FOR THE CISTERN. WE DIVERTED MONEY FROM OTHER PROJECTS BECAUSE WE DEEM THIS TO BE URGENT IN THE EXTREME. YOUR DONATIONS WILL HELP US “REPAY” THE OTHER PROJECTS, AS WELL AS FUND THE WELL.

WHAT: $7500 FOR A CISTERN SYSTEM AND A FULL BORE-HOLE, DEEP WELL IN THE VILLAGE
WHEN: IMMEDIATELY
HOW TO DONATE:

  • Use the Text to Give info in the photo above. Put in your own amount!
  • Use this link to our Water Project donation page. If you can select to pay the processing fee, that would be amazing!
  • Mail a check to us — please use the Contact page and we will send you our mailing address.

If you want more information, please reach out to us — we give 100% of your donations to the work, and anything we collect above the $7500 cost of this project will go to our main programs: food for 456 kids daily, education, and vocational training for teen moms in the slums.

For more day-to-day information, please FOLLOW US on Facebook and Instagrams (links below) — our social media is always the most up to date on what’s going on. Thank you for praying and partnering with Ten Eighteen as we take on this huge — but doable — endeavor!