Thursday, April 17, 2008

Obstetric Fistula - Survivors and Stories

Friends and supporters:

Here are some amazing illustrations of the issue of obstetric fistula in Uganda. Obstetric fistula is a problem we are not very familiar with in industrialized countries. You have got to see this link!

Bringing fistula stories to life - fistula survivors on video in Uganda at one of the referral hospitals in Kamuli where we send women for surgery. We have sent 19 women for repair so far and hope to send 20 more by the end of the year.

Here is another link, pulled from a feature story in one of the major Ugandan newspapers, to read more on why this issue is so important.

April Update from the field


1. There were several active JIDDECO farmers who attended the exposure visit who have approached me and asked UVP to assist them. I think they have 5 farmers organized with each of them looking for assistance for suckers for 1 acre. I told them I couldn't guarantee anything, but ONLY those who have taken initiative on their own after the exposure visit would have the chance of working with us on the project. This is 50,000 suckers at 50/= each. 2,500,000/= or $1,500. The farmers have agreed to organize all aspects of the implementation, including sensitizing other community members in their respective villages to be prepared to receive suckers that are passed on, and cover all transport costs.
2. I have made no commitments to either group (A2N or these active JIDDECO farmers), so whichever way we decide to move with this is okay. We know the JIDDECO farmers better, but on the other hand, I'm concerned about implementing before having full organizational support from JIDDECO.


1. Mid-March I sent a letter reminding the group that they agreed to pay at the end of March.
2. Catherine was out of the village, but returned Wednesday and promised to set things straight. I called her and she said that so far 4 people have paid for a total of 70,000 and that she banked that money. She told me that she will work this week and weekend to mobilize others to pay.

Orphan Scholarships:

1. I gave Richard a top-up of 1,300,000 for school fees/registration.
2. He told me the payments and receipts will be finalized tomorrow and that I can come to pick them.

Shallow Wells:

1. There were problems with the cement finishing cracking because the village mason did not use the correct ratio of cement to water. I want this to be fixed before we plan the commissioning ceremony. The District also supplied the wrong pump handles. We were given heavy handles meant for deep boreholes. This, combined with the wrong cement ratios, has caused the pedestal to become loose. I am hoping to meet with Herbert this week to sort out the problem. The village mason was not supervised and the district made this mistake, so I'm going to try and get them to bear the costs of fixing it.

2. The shallow well in Lukunhu B of Bukanga is basically finished. I want Herbert to change the handle before we have the same problem here as in Bugole.

3. I visited Kalalu to site wells for our donors this summer. Ben, you were right, Kalalu is BADLY off with water. Reverend had 6 sites in mind and they all qualify for a well, so it should be no problem keeping them busy this summer!

4. The existing well in Kalalu also had problems with the pedestal becoming loose. Kimanto also had this problem when you were here, Ben. I drilled Herbert about this and he said maybe they have to redesign the way the slab is cast if it is not the finishing that is the problem. He wants to schedule a time to move to all of the wells ascertain the problem.

5. Patrick has done amazingly well with the Butakanira job. He made daily trips to the village with 2 bags of cement. Patrick truly enjoys this project! He is getting a village called Kiringa ready next.

6. In the last update, I mentioned we found a new mason named Awali. Well, Balidawa hurt himself at Lukunhu and sent a different mason he knew to Butakanira. This mason he found seems to do good work. Balidawa showed up on site a few days after construction began and supervised the work. Balidawa is organizing the payment of this guy, so it won't be any cost to us. Patrick recommended using this guy on his own well, but as soon as he they reach the technical parts involving the hard core, Balidawa should be brought to that site for one day to ensure the work is done right.

7. As for digging in the dry season only, Herbert said this would be best unless we are willing to either rent or buy our own pumps during the wet season so there is no excuse for communities to stop digging. A pump costs 5,000 a day and we would have the communities contribute fuel. To buy, a pump goes for 600,000/=.

Microfinance/ Kiva Connections:

1. I visited several of the bigger microfinance institutions in Iganga to talk to them about networking with Kiva.
2. I think, based on the initial information I got, Finance Trust Uganda seemed to be the best one. I talked with them at length about Kiva. The manager was not around at the time. I hope to follow-up the next time I go through there.