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News from Kibaale

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Corona Update

After I visited the project in March, the situation has become more difficult. Fortunately, Uganda has very few cases of COVID-19. That is because borders are closed for all but essential traffic. Tourists are not allowed to enter. Schools are closed.

One of the side effects is that airmail has stopped working. Our staff has attempted to post letters, but they were returned after a few months. We are now scanning the letters, uploading them (when the internet permits) and emailing them. I would rather send out physical letters, but that is not feasible right now.

Our staff keeps working, the clinic is open. But many students are lagging behind, since they can't attend class and online study is not possible for all but a few students.

We hope and pray that the situation will improve soon.

March 2020

Bram Moolenaar, treasurer of ICCF Holland, visited the Kibaale Children's Centre in March 2020. This is his report.

You can find more pictures on Google Photos.


A dream come through

In 1994 on a quiet Sunday morning in Kibaale, the school nurse came to my door, knocking politely. If I was busy? Not really. So, could I perhaps drive this woman to hospital? Oh, sure, what is the matter? Well, she is in labour, and has been since yesterday afternoon, but now it's clear the baby is not coming and she needs a doctor. I'm shocked: She has been in labour for almost a day? Yes, and she is getting weak now. It becomes clear to me that this is an emergency. There is no ambulance in town, and the only taxi is away. So we quickly get ready, put a mattress in the back of my pickup truck, fetch the lady and helpers from town and go towards Kalisizo hospital, about an hour drive normally on this pothole littered dirt road. I ask the nurse: should I go fast or drive carefully? She answers: "yes". So I go as fast as I can, while avoiding the worst potholes. We reach the hospital, where she is taken over by the staff. At this moment it looks like we did as well as we could, the doctors are going to take care of her now. Unfortunately, two days later I hear that a cesarean section was needed, but the woman was so weak she did not make it. I felt terrible.

Ever since then I have been dreaming of a maternity ward in Kibaale. But that is a huge project. Can we at least have a nurse station then? That opened after a few years. Can we do more please? The nurse station became a clinic, with laboratory and pharmacy. But no 24/7 service, and Kalisizo hospital is still more than half an hour away, despite road improvements. Women in labour are still in trouble when things don't go as expected.

Finally, it is happening! A fundraising event in Canada last year got us enough money to build the ward, supporting buildings and buy the equipment and furnishing. There will be three delivery rooms and several bedrooms. Patients undergoing malaria treatment can also stay here. A water system was made at the primary school, where we have a lot of roof to collect water. From the huge lower tank water is pumped to the tanks at the highest point of the school, from where a pipe brings the water to the clinic by gravity. The roof and gutters of the primary school buildings were renovated (which was long needed anyway) to avoid spilling water.

There is still quite a challenge in starting up the maternity clinic, hire more staff and organise the work. And then we need to keep it up, pay the salaries, stock the medical materials and maintain the equipment. We expect the patients can only pay a fraction of the actual cost, we will rely on donations to keep the clinic running.

Extending the clinic building

The existing clinic is being extended and the old roof is replaced

New clinic wards under construction

One half of the new clinic wards

Ibises on the new power line

Ibises also appreciate the new power lines


During my last trip the project was using a generator, the connection to the electricity net was still to be made. That was done, now there is electricity most of the day. There were only a few short blackouts while I was there. It's great for several reasons, such as the office being able to use a copying machine. And for me to keep sausages frozen on Sunday (see my previous report). It's also much more environment friendly, most power in Uganda is hydroelectric.

In the first years I was in Kibaale i had to climb a hill to use a mobile phone. Over the years this got better, but using the internet was still difficult, it either was very slow or didn't work at all. One telecom company named Airtel has setup 4G antennas throughout the country, and finally there is decent internet. Even the latency is low, using a remote shell to my home machine worked quite well. Except late afternoon, for some reason it often failed then.


Even though I haven't mentioned it yet, the main purpose of the project is of course to help children, provide primary and secondary education and support them all the way through higher education. This works very well, the wall with pictures of graduated students becomes fuller each year. I am proud of these children that once were sleeping on a mud floor and have managed to become trained professionals. A builder, tailor, teacher, nurse, doctor and now we even have an MP. Boaz, a boy that lived at the project in 1994 and worked as a lab technician in our clinic, is now the MP for Kooki county. You can find info about him here. All this thanks to the support from our sponsors, these children would be poor farmers otherwise.
        Secondary students in the grass

Secondary school students studying in the grass

Improved Guesthouse

The facilities for visiting student groups have been improved


Fortunately the virus is not spreading in Uganda yet. They managed to isolate Chinese workers coming back from holidays (many have have their own housing near construction sites, which made this easier) and perform health checks at the airport. I was lucky that my trip was just before flights were being cancelled, a week later it would have been problematic. I really hope Uganda manages to keep the virus out, if it would spread in Uganda the medical facilities will be overrun very quickly.

While writing this report I got news that all schools in Uganda are now closed in an attempt to lower the risk of spreading the virus.

Bram Moolenaar
You can find more pictures on Google Photos.


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