Uganda Update – Weeks 3 & 4

We are actually in Fort Portal for the day. We were supposed to be in Mweya (AKA the safari) this weekend for our halfway point. However, last weekend there was some tribal violence in a town that we would have to drive through to get there. The town is at least an hour away from Kaihura and we haven’t heard about any other events since Tuesday. To err on the side of caution, Dr. Schaad decided that we would delay our trip to Mweya by a week and that we would continue to monitor the situation this upcoming week.

Also on the topic of safety, I’m sure some of you have heard about the warning that the US embassy issued for July 4th at the Entebbe airport. We are staying 5 hours away from Entebbe, and have no intentions or plans to be going into Entebbe until we leave on August 9th. So please don’t worry we are all safe.

As for updates on our progress, we are officially constructing two buildings, each building consists of three classrooms and a storage room. For the past two weeks, we’ve  made a lot of progress. Speaking in terms of the weeks we’ve been here, during the third week we leveled the trenches in the second building and then worked on the first building for the rest of the week. We started mixing concrete and filled the trenches with 3-4 inches of concrete for the strip footing (foundation for the walls) and also poured the spread footing (foundation for the columns). After that we mixed mortar and started constructing the foundation walls (laying bricks). After the foundation walls were done, the locals set up the form work for the columns and we poured all the columns with concrete. At the end of the week, we started back filling the trenches with the clay and soil that we dug up. We also moved bricks to different areas of the building from the brick pile (the bricks are unloaded off of a truck).

This past week (the fourth week) was a little slower. We’ve basically been moving dirt from one place to another the whole week. We’ve continued to backfill and level the classrooms, moved bricks for the second building and mixed more concrete. Despite the slow week, our team got a nice treat – we had lots of materials delivered on Monday and Friday so we were able to take the truck back instead of bike back! Both times we had to wait till at least 5pm (we usually leave at 4pm) but it was definitely worth the wait, we were all really happy, especially because the bike ride back to the house is much worse than the bike ride to the site (a lot more uphills).

Measuring our progress in terms of one building, we are behind schedule by a week, however, measuring our progress in terms of two buildings, we are two weeks ahead of schedule. Part of the delay is also due to the broken water pump, which was fixed just today (or at least hopefully), so optimistically we will finish leveling the classrooms for the first building, begin walling (laying the bricks for the walls above the foundation) and finish the foundation for the second building. 

The next update will either be in one or two weeks depending on if we go to Mweya/ make another day trip to Fort Portal. 

Eunice (DEID co-president and project leader for Uganda)