Saturday was our last day in Gulu, and all of us were finishing our respective projects. The engineers left for GYDA early in the morning, while the BAP-ers were making final preparations for the final distribution at Onaco. After arriving at GYDA at 8am, and hurriedly making some final adjustments, I had finished three bicycle carts I had been working on for the last two weeks. With some of the students, we loaded the truck with two of the carts and four of the grinders, leaving a cart and grinder at GYDA to use as demonstration models and left for the village.
The distribution went extremely well. The grain grinder and the cart were demonstrated to the villagers, and both were met with great enthusiasm. People asked how they could purchase the devices and there was an obvious demand; our designs were a success. Distribution was very satisfying; we called people by their names and shook their hands. It was much more personal than the first distribution, and we all felt the gratitude of the villagers.
As the day came to an end, we finally had the realization that our mission in Gulu had been accomplished. We had distributed ninety bicycles, and manufactured three different appropriate designs. Kevin and Brian got some chapatti for the road, and James and I joined the Club for one last time in Gulu. Everyone then piled into the van, and as the sun set on Gulu, Baker sped us away to Kampala. Imitrex can alleviate some of the symptoms and shorten the length of the attack by breaking the string and preventing the succession of headaches. website This medication is often prescribed for a patient who has not responded optimally to other acne medications and treatments. accutane.html. Soma will relax the muscle and provide pain relief so that a doctor may evaluate the injury effectively and decide upon the proper course of treatment. www.fcccharlotte.com/soma.html. Valium is a mood elevator in addition to a relaxant and the combination of these two effects is often enough to overcome and remove the physical discomforts of stress. valium.html. Ativan is most effective when it it used to treat conditions that present with a rapid onset like that produced when a person suffers from a panic attack. ativan.html.
Thursday June 9th
As the days come to a close here in Gulu the four of us engineers realize how much work still needs to be done in just two days. Kevin and Brian are making three more grain grinders and Tom B. has to make two more carts. As for me I am putting the finishing touches on the side mounted taxi. The reason for our deadline of Friday is because we hope to bring our creations out to the villages on Saturday and distribute them to the villagers. In addition to finishing the manufacturing, we want to create new diagrams and instruction manuals for each of our projects so that GYDA can remake them if need be.
As for James and Abby, they went to our new office and began necessary renovations. It’s a small 14 square foot office but we like to make it look nice so James put up some posters he made with great pictures of the villages on them. They also began preparations for our second and last distribution of bicycles on Saturday.
Time here has flown by and we have all grown fond of Uganda, but I will be happy to head home knowing we completed the job well done.
Greetings again friends, family, supporters and stalkers. I write to you from an internet cafe in Kampala with Ben and Muyambi sitting next to me, having (alas) left Gulu last night. Bereaved as I am to be on my way home already, the past day and a half have been eventful to say the least and overall I couldn’t be more satisfied with the culmination of my visit.
Yesterday was Distribution Day, an affair so grand that it deserves the capitalized letters. I even used a few of my coveted disposable camera shots for the occasion (one of the first things we learned here was that there is not one disposable camera for sale in all of Uganda). We woke early and headed to Paibona (which isn’t actually a village in itself – more a combination of four villages: Ayweri, Bolipii, Acutumer, and Tugu) as a full group for the first and last time. The bicycles that James and Baker had painted and prepped were there waiting for us, as were about three hundred excited villagers, and we quickly got to work setting up and organizing forms. The engineers showed the villagers the grain grinder that they had been working on, which generated some well-ground millet as well as some well-deserved oohs and ahs from the crowd (which by now included a multitude of village children who had evidently just been released from school). Tom B also entertained the masses with his (literally) rockin’ bike cart. The grinder, as well as an updated version of the cart, will soon be available for the villagers to borrow and use whenever they please.
Finally we were ready to call out the names of our chosen sixty (fifteen from each of the four villages) – the people whose bicycle applications were approved. For the first time all day, the clearing went silent (save the murmurings of some very cute babies). As the names were called and people began to file out of the crowd to fill out the paperwork for their new investment, I realized that I had expected more of a commotion from the scene – everybody was strangely solemn. Upon further reflection, I think I would have reacted in the same way. How can one be expected to celebrate knowing that there are hundreds around who won’t be celebrating too? I hope that the sixty are serious about the commitment that they are making and pay their monthly installments on time so that one day we can come back and give some of their equally well-deserving neighbors bicycles as well. The bicycles were wheeled off; lives were changed. Sorry to be so cheesy but I’m running out of time and I’m going to have to wrap this up.
It was surreal to leave you guys behind and I hope you’re doing me proud back there!
With lots of BAP love from the source of the Nile (where I just used my very last disposable shot),
Update: got home okay! Ben and I managed to have a great 6AM mini-romp in Brussels. Miss you all so much
I write this sitting on the balcony to our hotel. The light is waning, as the last tinges of a fiery pink sunset leave the sky. The power is out in the hotel, and we shall see how long the battery lasts on the computer. I apologize for the delay in writing –here’s an update on what happened yesterday.
We journeyed back to Paibona parish to finish interviewing possible bicycle recipients yesterday in order to even out the number of applications that we had received from each village. We had a set number from each village that we had left to interview, and so each village – Bolipii, Ayweri, Tugu, and Acutumer – had chosen a group of people who would be allowed to be interviewed. We had expanded our team of translators to expedite the process, and we managed to finish late in the afternoon just as a rainstorm swept in to Acutumer. The last interviews were conducted out of the open doors of the van, which provided a small amount of shelter from the blowing rain. The interviewers and applicants who were finished took shelter in the villagers’ nearby huts, and those of us in the van watched chickens and baby goats line up beneath the eves to avoid the splattering rain. We finished 92 applicants in one day, bringing our total for the four villages to 235 – many hours on Excel still await!
While we were out in the villages, the engineers continued to work on their projects in order to be able to distribute at least one of each model to a village by the end of the week. They’ll also be coming with us to bike distribution tomorrow, which we’re all excited about!
The sky is completely dark now, and a few neon signs glow through the railing. After being here for two weeks, I still feel a continual wash of new cultural experiences sweep over me, even as life in Gulu feels more and more familiar. As a brand new member to BAP and a first time traveler in Uganda, each day brings new people, new experiences, new ideas, and new questions, and creates a tangibly exhilarating atmosphere that I will be continually search for when I leave.
The group is off to dinner now, celebrating Nadia’s and Ben’s last night in Gulu. I’ll leave a today’s update for the next blogger.
Yesterday all nine of us (engineers and BAPers both) packed into Baker’s taxi and enjoyed a bumpy ride around Merchison Falls National Park. Until recently, we were unsure as to whether or not it would be feasible to take this trip. There is always more work to be done, and we are in even more of a time crunch given that Nadia and I will be leaving about five days earlier than everyone else. However, we realized that we could get to the Falls and back in one day, and would not be doing any field work on a Sunday anyway.
Luckily, we had a fantastic day, and I personally think it was worth the trip. We got on the road a little after our 5:30 AM target; James took an early morning trip to the Gulu hospital for some neck problems (he seems to be doing fine now). Over an hour later on now-familiar dirt roads, we entered the park gates. I did not see any fences around the park, but there seemed to be an invisible wall keeping the wildlife in. Within minutes we could easily spot giraffes, wart hogs, antelope, baboons, water buffalo, and some other unfamiliar creatures. We even found a herd of mzungu by the river bank. Most noticeable were the enormous, aggressive flies that swarmed the van as soon as we got into the reserve.
We finally ferried across the Nile river and reached Murchison Falls. It is easy to see why the falls are one of Uganda’s most famous attractions. The Nile River forces its way through a gap about 20 feet wide shoots out in a powerful wall of water. The engineers spent some time debating exactly how many gallons went down the falls at any given moment (according to Wikipedia, Tom B’s estimation of 2 million was a few hundred thousand off). We had some epic views from above and right next to the rapids, took a few group pictures, and ate lunch in a gazebo next to the falls.
The ride back was made more eventful by even more rabid swarms of flies. The 10 of us had to close all the windows and plug up every hole in Baker’s van to keep them out. The car turned into a dusty sauna, and we could see more and more flies cling to the steamed-up windows. By the time we returned to Gulu, everybody was caked in red dirt. While doing BAP work has been interesting and worthwhile, it can be pretty sobering to see the living situations in the villages. But having seen Uganda’s incredible wildlife gives me a better appreciation of the country, and makes the work we are doing here feel more fulfilling.
Friday was our first day in Paibona, our newest area of distribution. Paibona is about an hour and a half car ride from Gulu town. As it turns out, Paibona is the name of the parish–or the greater area– and is made up of four different villages. That being said, men and women from all four villages showed up at our introduction meeting this morning to apply for a bicycle.
After shooting for an 8:30am departure we got on the road by 9:30 and arrived in Kutu, one of the four sub-villages, by 11. Alex, our project manager, explained to me the origins of the name Kutu and how they relate to the surrounding environment. Scattered across the landscape of Paibano and the surrounding area are palm trees fifty feet high, bearing fruit that look like coconuts. The fruit–if it can be referred to as a fruit- is called Kutu in Acholi and does not provide much food in a single unit, according to Alex. “You would have to eat like twenty to be satisfied,” said Alex.
The road that runs through Paibona lead us past the city center and into a cleared public space safe from the sun under a canopy of mango trees and palms. We were greeted by the local leaders–LC’s, as they’re called– and other residents who arrived early to find out why we were paying Paibona a visit. It is important to note that Paibona is very far from Gulu, the NGO capital of Northern Uganda. And according to the villagers, the people of Paibona were left with no more than their bare hands after the war. While we waited for the others Cathy talked to us about the war and the extent to which it affected the people who live in villages like Paibona. If it was three years ago, we would not be out here, Cathy told us. Joseph Kony’s of the LRA’s presence was greatly feared up until 2007 and 2008. I asked Cathy about a man who was pacing around the crowd of people wearing a cloak and carrying a diviner’s staff. The man shouted some words at us and Cathy laughed. “He said he is Jesus Christ,” Kathy told me as she watched him tuck behind a tree. Character’s of this type are typical in the area. According to Cathy this man was “in the bush” and is a product of Joseph Kony’s strange spiritual practices forced upon child soldiers.
As the crowd grew to around 200 people, Muyambi delivered his speech introducing BAP and thanking everyone for coming to meet with us. They knew nothing about BAP before he got up to speak. He made it very clear that we were not there to give hand outs, but to offer them our program that will require responsibility and payments for the bicycle until half of it is paid for.
There was a period of questions that followed Muyambi’s speech during which the locals had a chance to share their thoughts on the program and offer ideas for how the beneficiaries will be determined. We have been leaning towards a democratic process through which beneficiaries will be elected by their peers. In the past we have relied on a Bucknell designed model that displays the beneficiary’s standing in terms of ability to pay and need for the bicycle. The problem with this is that the data we collect from our prospective beneficiaries during the application process is not always accurate. Putting the power to elect beneficiaries in the hands of the community will hopefully add to the sense of responsibility within the program and make sure those who receive bicycles will be able to pay for them. Muyambi told me he had a good feeling about Paibona, and after today I feel the same way. Today, more so than ever, I was overcome with the sense that BAP is going to make a tremendous impact in the lives of people who are in great need of empowerment after the war.
Our first night out was long awaited and highly anticipated. It came on our seventh night here and was well deserved. Kevin, who was on the first summer trip, recommended that we treat ourselves to Churchill Hotel. We decided to have our meeting beforehand so that we could take our time at dinner. It started to rain during our meeting but cleared up just in time to take boda-bodas to Churchill. We saddled up in pairs, pushing the driver towards his handle bars, and rode down the wet street out of Gulu town in procession. We found our table on the tile patio and were spotted by the director of GYDA (Gulu Youth Development Association) with whom the engineers have been working. We were all able to order off a menu, which was a treat in itself as the menu is usually determined by the waitress in Gulu. Being able to unwind as a group was refreshing for all and got us ready for a long day ahead.
When we arrived in the canopied meeting center at 9:30 this morning we were greeted by a few hundred locals hoping to apply for a bicycle. Emaculette, one of our beloved translators, delivered a powerful speech to the villagers that was not translated into English but was undoubtedly intended to organize the masses and once again detail the policies and procedures of BAP. It wasn’t long until each one of us was set up with a translator in our own area of the meeting place with a line of 14 people waiting to be interviewed for the application process. We hoped to complete 100 applications today, 50 more than yesterday, so that we could start the selection process by Tuesday. We finished 97 in five hours.
When it was my turn to take a break I took a walk over to the new office with Baker. The 10 by 10 foot building made of clay bricks and a thatched roof needs a bit of work. On our way over to the city center we ran into a group of guys in a pick up truck who took Baker’s order for two truck loads of sand. We’ll be using it for plaster when we renovate the building next week.
We’re taking a break from BAP work tomorrow since it’s against our policy to go to the villages on Sunday anyways. Baker’s van will be leaving at 5:30am for Murchison Falls National Park. Hopefully we see plenty of baboons, elephants and river eagles.
Today was our 9th day in Uganda and 7th in Gulu. All the members of the group are becoming familiar with the common Acholi phrases, local dishes, and some of the people around town. Both sections of the BAP group are making awesome progress despite facing many unforeseen obstacles.
At the onset of our trip, the engineering team set the goal of completing the first bicycle cart and the first grain mill within our first week. I am thrilled to report that we have accomplished this goal and more with a day to spare!
The two Toms have focused on improving the previous design for a bicycle cart that can help people ferry heavy loads on dirt roads in the villages. The center of gravity has been lowered, a highly functional 3-degree joint has been designed and built, and the overall rigidity of the cart has been improved.
Meanwhile Brian and myself have focused on building a bicycle grain mill. We designed the machine over the course of our senior year along with two other students. Even though we built a prototype of the machine in the Bucknell Product Development Lab mere weeks ago, we needed to rethink several critical components due to material availability and manufacturing capabilities. A new stand design was built that eliminates a weak cantilever beam while maintaining a high degree of stability. A dynamo friction wheel was utilized to transmit power from the bicycle wheel to a set of rotating blades.
This morning we completed the first bicycle grain mill. We tested it at 2:30 pm in front of the GYDA director, several GYDA instructors, and a group of dedicated students. Brian and I both held our breath because we wanted everyone to feel the satisfaction of completing a design that worked. In the first test we filled the hopper with 500 grams of sorghum. Brain hopped on the bike and after 2 minutes we had a product that was approximately 80% flour suitable for cooking! This is a fantastic result. The test with millet was even more impressive. Our work had paid off and now we have a machine that can potentially save many people over an hour of work each day!
Another aspect of the engineer’s experience that may be just as or more important then the final product devices is the interactions with the students and instructors at GYDA. Strong friendships and relationships with two-way learning have been forged. We have seen ingenious methods of fabrication using simple tools that we never would have believed possible, impressive function driven mechanical design ideas, and fantastic hacksaw sawing ability. On the other side I believe we have provide some design inspiration, shared the potential practicality of mathematics in design (including the use of the law of cosines!), and provided some introductory instruction in 3D modeling software programs.
All in all this trip and these projects have fully entranced me. I am very excited about bringing these devices to people in the villages and seeing what they can do in regards to generating business or saving time. Sorry for the delay with the blog entries, please keep reading, and BAP love!
Another day, another Gulu truth learned: you can have hot water or electricity but not both. This came as a bit of an inconvenience as we non-engineers had some early morning printing to do, so we ended up getting off to a late (albeit well-showered) start. We reached Kinene around midday, where we had organized a meeting with the village people as well as those from nearby Lulyango and Bwobonam-B. The main idea was to collect fresh data from them concerning how the bicycles we have distributed to them have affected their lives in order to understand how to improve, as well as to emphasize the importance of timely monthly payments. It was encouraging to see so many individuals there seriously committed to the program and to receive such helpful feedback. Also, talking with these people on a personal level has given the work that I have been doing for BAP for the past year new meaning. It has been fascinating to see with my own eyes the effect that our efforts have had, and to be so completely immersed in the local culture. I feel that I understand the villagers’ way of thinking a bit more clearly now than I did when we first arrived. Abby’s laughter was definitely the highlight of the village children’s day; Ben’s Spanish was less of a hit.
After returning to Gulu we dined with the engineers, who it turns out had an amply productive day despite the lack of electricity. An exclusive one-on-one interview with Brian revealed that they “learned that the students are very capable.”
It should also be noted that we came across what is now BAP’s new official theme song while exploring music on Muyambi’s computer: track 5 by DJ Tira & Sox on Durban’s Finest Volume 3. Bap. Bap.
Nadia (aka Natia)
Tuesday, May 31.
Red clouds of dust swirled up from our tires as we journeyed to the village of Nwoya. Our van roared across the narrow clay road, pushing boda-bodas, bicycles, and pedestrians to the edges of the grassy banks. Muyambi, James, Ben, Nadia, and I traveled with Alex, our on the ground support, our team of translators, and Baker, our fearless driver. Today, our goal was to conduct a meeting with the people of Nwoya about their payment histories (or lack thereof) and to conduct surveys on the impact that the bicycles were having. After an hour or so, we clambered out of the van beneath a group of trees at the center of the village.
A small group of people began to gather, and we decided to start by conducting evaluations while we waited for the rest of the people to show up for the meeting. As James said, the surveys are used to gather data about the effectiveness of the bicycles program. I was paired with Joyce, a translator who has worked with BAP since the beginning of the program, and we had a continual flow of people who wished to take the survey. After spending yesterday going over the accounts of the people of Nwoya with Nadia, it was particularly wonderful to interview someone with a name that I recognized. “Marcilina” was a smiling, energetic older woman who was graciously appreciative of what BAP has done for the village and clearly a valued matriarch in the community. During the meeting that followed, it became clear that her joyous smile and enthusiasm that was coupled with a serious drive to make BAP work in her community.
After sixty or so people had gathered in the shade of the trees, the meeting began with a brief prayer and a welcoming speech by a local village officer. Muyambi then spoke to the crowd, using a translator, restating BAP’s commitment to the community but requiring the people of Nwoya to follow through on their own commitment of completing making payments on their bicycles. “I’m hoping to be back here, but that depends on you,” he stated to the crowd, and he called on those present to inform their friends that they had until the 4th of June to complete their payments. If they do, then they will still be able to access more bicycles and potentially other services through BAP; if not –we’ll have to decide on the 4th.
The afternoon ended after finishing up the surveys, and we piled back into the van to make the dusty drive back to Gulu. Tomorrow we are holding a meeting in Kinene for three of the villages, and repeating the process over again. Another day of meeting people awaits!
Abby Bowling, Skidmore College
Tom and I woke up this morning very happy to begin work on our bicycle cart. The engineer agreed to wake up for breakfast at 8:30. Of course we walk into Brian and Kevin’s room and they were both still asleep, blaming the fact the reason they woke up late was because their room was too dark. After breakfast we spent a few hours walking around town looking for supplies. This included a great deal of bargaining for prices. It is always difficult to know if the price they give is the tourist price or the local price.
Once we found what we needed, we headed to GYDA (Gulu Youth Development Association). GYDA is a non-profit school for youth to learn how to operate machinery and build different things that can either give them knowledge or find them a job. Once we showed up everyone was very nice and helpful. We were introduced to the students and technicians who would be helping us with our project. At GYDA we split up and Tom and I worked on our cart design. The day was summed up with us modifying last years design and finding out what materials we needed to purchase for the next day. Brian and Kevin were working diligently on their grain grinder with a whole group of students looking over their shoulder.
The rest of BAP had a full day of record keeping and traveling. Nadia and Abby spent their day filling in records of the previous year into excel spreadsheets. In may not be fun work but it is very important to the foundation. James, Ben, and Muyambi went out and tried to find a new village to spread our program to. They made some great progress and have two villages that could be promising.
Its fun to be working hands on with what we have been looking at for so long and we are looking forward to completing the cart in the next few days.
By Tom Apruzzese