Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Survey Trip

Yesterday, Alisha's dad and I drove two hours north of Kampala to revisit the site of my Fall 2008 project trip for SOS Ministries. After designing a bible training center, primary school and secondary school for SOS, they are now ready to move forward with building.
Before they arrived last week, Alisha's dad had said he would love to be involved on some kind of eMi project while he was here. So, I kept that in the back of my mind, and when Shannon with SOS Ministries called me a couple of weeks ago I thought it could be fun. And it turns out, I was right!
The survey crew - which included these 5 local guys who followed us around and chopped down whatever was in our line of sight. They all work for SOS. We both very much enjoyed their presence throughout the day and were very appreciative of their help.

Just setting out to search for the existing control points, armed with a machette, a metal detector and a map.

We left our house at 6am, arriving on site around 8am. Over the next 10 hours, we first located and then tied into existing control points, set a new control point to set the instrument up on, and then staked out the new entrance road and the first building to be built on site. I ran the instrument and dad ran the rod - which meant a lot of walking for him!
The "rod man" (Alisha's dad Ken Berry)
After finishing up the stakeout (with a delicious lunch in the middle provided by Shannon's wife Danielle), we packed up and headed for home. Kampala traffic was in full form, so we didn't get home until 8:30pm! But we got everything we were hoping to finish complete, so it was a great day. And, it was a great chance to work and hang out together on a project deep in the African bush. I'm so thankful we got to do this - it was really a special day, and though we were exhausted when we finally got home, there's no doubt we'll both remember this day for the rest of our lives.

Me running the instrument (it had been 10 years since I had run one of these, but Janet and Chad had given me a refresher course back at the office)

Some shots were in the clearing, so they were easy...

...some shots were more difficult...

...and some were downright ridiculous, but we managed to get them all!

After a hard day's work, Shannon (pictured with us here along with his 7-year old son Ethan) was very appreciative to be staked out to start building. It's nice to see one of my projects starting construction (there are a few others in construction now as well).

Monday, July 20, 2009


Alisha's parents arrived for a month-long visit this past Friday morning! So far so good on jet lag for them so that's been great. We are really enjoying having them here, though it reminds us of how much we miss our family and friends back home. On Sunday, we went to visit their sponsor child Hassan, whose family lives about 5 miles from our house. They sponsor him through Africa Renewal Ministries (eMi has designed multiple projects for them - the bible college, the primary school). We had visited him last summer when they were here, so they wanted to be sure to visit him again. This is a photo collage of the morning we spent driving to nearby Ggaba village to meet with Hassan. It was a special treat for them to spend time with Hassan - what percentage of people ever get to meet their sponsor child?!

The Berry's with their sponsor child Hassan (middle, blue shirt), Hassan's older brother Moses (far right) and his younger sister Shifa.

The boys with Hassan's siblings

We all walked to Hassan's house(about 1.5 km away) through the dirt roads and side alleys.

Jonah held hands with Moses most of the way. It's amazing how comfortable the boys are in this culture. They are perfectly at home here, even though it is so drastically different from back home in the U.S.

Graysen always treats the little ones in the group like they are babies...even if they're older than he is like in this picture!

As usual, we were followed by a group of about 15 Ugandan kids, and Brodie kept chasing after them and making them laugh the entire trip. It looks like he's begging in this photo, but he's actually just using his hands to explain something.
The local kids chasing through the halls after Brodie

The last few hundred meters of the walk was through small corridors between shanties in a little village. It was a very interesting walk, and unbelievable to see the poverty level and filth even though this would not be considered one of the poorest of the poor housing developments in Kampala. But there was trash and grey water running all over the place.
Graysen winding his way through the village

Leaving Hassan's house - it's the building in background. His family shares the building with another family, whose door is on the right.

Alisha's mom pictured with Hassan's mom, who was very appreciate of the Berry's and all they'd done for Hassan. They also brought her a basket filled with local supplies.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Since we last updated...

Their last picture together before saying goodbye - I don't know if they'll remember her as a sister, an aunt, a cousin, or a nanny, but one things for certain, they won't forget Dani!

* I have fully transitioned into the role of Director of the eMi East Africa office. I’m finding myself much busier these days than I have been since we arrived here a year and a half ago, but overall things are going well.

Chad & I hanging out at their going away party.
* My project team has been working hard these past few weeks and were able to finalize our project report this past week! It turned out great and we’ll be mailing it to the ministry this coming week.
* The boys participated in three, week-long camps at the school: soccer camp, basketball camp, and a ‘superstar’ camp that taught them about both sports and character. On the last day of superstar camp, over 600 Ugandan primary school kids came to participate in various games and sports. Samaritan’s Purse put it on and it was a lot of fun.

The boys at Summer camp, taking a break to hear a devotional by Mr. Nick, the camp director.

On the last day of camp, all the kids got to play on a slip and slide!
* Alisha has been working tirelessly in her new classroom to get it ready for the school year. She spent over 40 hours going through stuff, throwing a ton of junk away, organizing and rearranging the room. She also bought a bunch of paint and hired some painters to paint the room. It's looking amazing now!
The finished Kindergarten Room
Alisha had her birthday on Monday. She'll have to ask her! Neighbor/friend Lynne baked her a birthday cake - her favorite, carrot cake!
* My sister Terri arrived for a 9-day visit. We had a great time and her and Dani enjoyed an amazing safari last weekend. But sadly, we said goodbye early Wednesday morning as they headed out for a week in England/Italy en route back to SoCal.

Terri and Alisha hanging out for coffee at Quality Hill, Alisha's favorite spot in town.

The whole family (minus me, who steered clear of the mess!) joined in for a painting project - painting the blocks for the kindergarten classroom.

The four of us went out to dinner for Alisha's birthday at the new Mexican food place downtown. For Kampala, it's pretty decent Mexican food...but real Mexican food is still something we long for from back home.

One of our last nights with Dani - it's like sending a kid off to college. Fortunately we have a good decade before we have to go through that for real. But our house is a lot different without her around - we're definitely having to readjust.
Terri even braved downtown Kampala on the back of my boda!
* We have been preparing to say goodbye to Dani these past several weeks. We’re sad to be losing our newest family member, but at the same time we’re excited for her to start the next phase of her life – college! We’re so happy and blessed to have had the chance to have her as a part of our family this past year. She’ll always hold a special place in our hearts.
The last supper with Terri and Dani - of course, our favorite, Banana pancakes, were served!
Aunt T was a big fan of the banana pancakes, and the boys were big fans of Aunt T!
Aunt T reading the boys a book on her last night here
The boys each made Dani a going away card and presented it to her on her last night.
* I’m attending a 3-day conference in downtown Kampala this week called the Annual International Standards Conference. This year’s theme is ‘Regional and International Trade – the Role of Standards’. I’m one of only two mzungu’s in attendance – the other is a representative from the French embassy – out of nearly 300 people. Topics include: Eurocodes in Uganda, Safety of Buildings and Construction in Uganda, and Quality of Cement in the Uganda Market. My main reason for attending is to get some professional development hours for my Oregon P.E. license renewal due at the end of the year (30 PDH’s every 2-year renewal period). The Minister of State for Trade was in attendance so it’s a bit of a media circus. The conference is attended by many local business leaders.
* Jonah had a broken filling, so we took him in to see the dentist. After x-rays and examination, the dentist said he needed a crown, two other fillings, and possibly a root canal or even extraction with a spacer add afterwards. Yikes! We have to wait 3 weeks to see if the tooth is still sensitive. Pray for him!
* Last weekend, we had 4 parties to attend – two 4th of July parties (lots of fun, but made us miss home!) and two goodbye parties. In the next week, we say goodbye to 13 people from the eMi office, not to mention Dani and Terri. It’s not the fun part of our lives here.

We had over 50 people at our house on the 4th of July. It really made us miss America. Early in the day, I went downtown to the second-hand market here ('Owino Market') and found a red Old Navy 2003 flag t-shirt for a dollar! You can find pretty much anything at that market!

Some of the departing eMi Interns and volunteers at the going-away party

Terri and Dani with more interns. This was a great group of interns and they will be sorely missed. There's a big Terri and Dani sized hole in our household too.
* The coming 6-7 weeks will be a fairly quiet time around the office. It will be just Janet and I for part of it, but in August we’ll be joined by intern Jill, who is returning as a long-term volunteer for the Fall. We’re excited as the boys love Jill (Jill was also an intern last winter and arrived in Uganda at the same time as us. She returned for another internship these past couple of months.)
* Alisha has a terrible stomach flu at the moment – her first major illness since we’ve been here. Yuk!
* Someone attempted to break into the eMi office this past Wednesday night. I received a call at 1:00am from Stephen, our head of security, notifying me that the night guard had found two intruders in the compound and chased them off. They had hopped the wall and switched the power off in the office. So I drove to pickup Stephen and we went to the police station a couple miles away and picked up 3 police officers – two who were carrying rifles. We went and checked out the office and the lot next door where the men had come from, but only found footsteps. They had tried to open the rear, metal kitchen door but fortunately we had it padlocked. By the time I drove the police back to the station and dropped off Stephen, I didn’t get back to bed until 3:30am. I was just glad the night guard had not been harmed. We will be discussing how best to increase our security next week. The police are being very helpful and proactive, and are contacting the neighbors and local chairman (LC) of our area to talk about what to do with this particular lot. Four burglaries have originated from this lot in the last year, which does not have a security wall and can be accessed by anyone off the street. The police also told us that they will be increasing patrols in the area.
Too bad Superman isn't around to help fight crime...or is he?! We bought the movie Superman downtown last weekend and let the boys watch it. The movie wasn't even over yet and Graysen was fashioning this costume together. Dani colored the logo, but the rest was Graysen's creation, including the red Man U towel as his cape! He's since refined the look to include tall, red soccer socks since he noticed Superman has red boots.

We’re eagerly anticipating the arrival of Alisha’s parents on July 17th for a month! During their time here they are taking our family to Kenya for a couple week vacation! We are sad to be missing another summer back home, but this trip to Kenya will be a great ‘stand-in’ for our usual camping trip to the redwoods.