Project Trip to Luwero: Part I
For the past week, I have been out of town about 50 miles North of Kampala near a town called Luwero leading my first eMi project trip to work with Sufficiency of Scripture Ministries. The vision of the ministry is to provide much needed biblical training to Ugandan pastors. The founder and director of the ministry, Shannon Hurley, is an energetic and passionate pastor from Santa Clarita, CA who moved here, along with his wife and 3 kids 2 1/2 years ago .
Though the heart of the ministry is to train pastors up into a thorough knowledge of the Bible over a 3-year program, they also realize how important establishing a connection with the surrounding local community is if their ministry is to be successful. Therefore, after purchasing a beautiful piece of land totaling over 100 acres in the dense central Ugandan jungle, they contacted eMi to help them with the master plan of their site to include not only a biblical training center, but also both a primary and secondary school for the children of the nearby rural community. All told at full build-out of the project, with staff and students, approximately 1200 people will be served by the site. The following is my daily journal of the trip.
For reference, the team is:
Me – Trip leader and Structural Engineer
Janet – Trip co-leader, Surveyor and Civil Engineer
Jeremy – eMiUSA Staff Draftsman
Liz – Architect (long-term volunteer at eMiEA)
Brady – Civil Engineering (short-term volunteer)
Nate – Electrical and Civil Engineering (short-term volunteer)
Anna – Intern, Architecture
Nick – Intern, Surveying, Structural Engineering and Cost Estimating
Monday September 15: It’s a small world after all
After a bit of a mixup with the transportation (the ministry’s bus did not show up that morning), we arrived on site a little after lunchtime. We met Shannon and a few of the local board members of SOS, Christopher, Jotham and Anthony. We took a quick tour of the first structure already under construction, Shannon’s future house, but with a thunderstorm looming we crammed into Shannon’s landcruiser and took a drive around the perimeter.
Interesting side story: As we talked a bit about the vision, Shannon told us that he had grown up in LA and graduated from the Master’s College in Santa Clarita, CA. He also mentioned that Anthony, who is a native Ugandan, had played basketball at the Master’s College for 3 years(’98 to ’01) under a full scholarship (with his 6’9” frame, if he hadn’t played somewhere he should have!). So I mentioned that my cousin’s husband was the women’s coach at Master’s, and he said, “Ken Sugarman is your cousin?!” I explained that his wife Nancy was my first cousin, and he said he knew Nancy as well. He, and also a mzungu who is here with SOS for a few months and who is also a Master’s College grad, spoke very highly of Ken and his program – that he focuses on developing his players as Christian women, and not just basketball players. Anyway, it was a fun little moment – and very bizarre that I’d meet a local guy out in the middle of the African jungle who knows someone in my family.
So after a great lunch onsite, we headed to Luwero town (about 25 minutes) to get settled at the guest house where we’ll be staying for the next week and have a sit down programming meeting with Shannon and the board members.
The programming meeting went well, and the team got hear Shannon’s personal story of how he came to move his family to Uganda, as well as the future vision of the ministry. We were able to ask all the questions we needed to get started the next day.
Tuesday September 16: First day of project work
Our first full work day started out with a quick, early breakfast followed by a matatu ride to the site. The survey team got busy right away, trying to use every bit of daylight as possible. When we arrive, a large tent frame was partially put together, so me and Brady and Nick pitched in to get it erected. It was a large, heavy canvas tent that at 20 ft x 80 ft was way bigger than we needed, so we only put up 2 bays and let the rest hang over the end. Still, with a 20 ft x 40 ft work area, we had enough room to spread out.
The architects also hurried themselves to work, creating an outline for the master plan, and even cutting out tiny little buildings from construction paper (to scale!) for buildings and moving them around on the site to help come up with a layout. As the project leader, I spent the day coordinating people and equipment, as well as meeting with Dean, a fairly relaxed but burly fellow from New Zealand who is here with his wife and 3 kids to help Shannon get the construction of the site off and running. In building Shannon’s house, Dean was able to provide a wealth of information about construction materials’ cost. Four days out of the week, Dean lives with his two teenage sons on site in a small, very traditional Ugandan brick house occupied by two Ugandan brothers who moved to the site to help out the ministry.
An interesting side-story about the two brothers, Simon (19) and Alex (24): When they were 8 and 13, their parents died, so they had to care for themselves. To make it through, Alex worked while Simon went to school. At night, Alex would study from Simon’s notes, so that at the end of the year, they both could sit for the exams to pass on to the next grade. As of now, they have both passed up to the point of having 2 more years of O-level and 2 more years of A-level schooling (i.e. essentially 4 years of high school), which SOS will help them pay for.
By the end of the day, the architects had a preliminary master plan sketched out and colored for the SOS guys to review the following morning; the survey team had taken 239 shots in just over 8 hours, a rate of about a shot every 2 minutes; the civil guys had taken water samples and checked out the existing bore holes; and as is typical of most eMi project trips, the structural work was still at least 2 days from commencement (which makes for a bit more low keyed first part of the week, but a more time-crunched second part of the week).