by KareMeKuc co-founder Max Clary
Hello Everyone! Time for a new post!
I have some info about the project and then I have some personal life thoughts and experiences that some of you may want to hear more about.
In terms of the project things are coming along. What we are currently doing is making conceptual blueprints of how the peace center will look and all the buildings that will go into it. These drawings serve two purposes for us. One, it will be helpful to give to actual contractors that will make real blue prints for the design. Second, this is helping us organize our thoughts. In order to make this Peace Center sustainable we must create essentially an expense sheet of all of what we need and thus what we will have to pay up front to implement the center and then what the cost will be to sustain the center. From this information we will be able to figure out a clearer direction that we will head in for the vocational school. It is important that this school can operate like a business making some type of profit to go back into sustaining the school so that we are not relying off of continuous big donor funding. What we are trying to figure out essentially is if it is plausible to grow the food on site that will feed the kids and just a small area for the profit producing crops and trades that would create funds to sustain the center or would it be more beneficial to focus the land on cash crops and incoming generating skills and then use the money earned to buy food in addition to going back to sustain the school. If you are interested, below is an example of the conceptual list we are making.
On another note, Nellie is working diligently on a way to set a health care unit at this peace center that will act as a really well equipped school informatory working to help the kids at the center as well as the other kids we work with in the field. She is also working on trying to set up immediate care for those out in these small villages and is exploring ideas ranging from partnering with organizations that bring supplies via motorbike or even using drones to drop in medical supplies and medications. We will see how that one goes. And hey! You all know the saying “shoot for the moon and even if you miss, you land among the stars.” So, as a team we are all supporting this kind of entrepreneurship and creativity. This combined with our hard work will be what sets up apart from the other NGOs on the ground here. In addition, we feel strongly that we must not try to reinvent the wheel as many NGOs are doing great work here on the ground. Instead we are trying to partner with them and use their services to help us along the way. For example, we are trying to working with an organization called Pace which is a NGO here in Lira that trains people on how to teach family planning and prevention against common diseases. Hopefully once the clinic at the peace center is built they will come and train our staff or even start training the staff going out to the villages before the center is established as there is a lot of need for this education to many of young mothers or soon-to-be-mothers in the villages we work in.
Here is a funny story for you regarding the ground work we are laying to establish this center:
In Uganda it is important to meet with the government offices to get their consent before going ahead with really any time of project that affects the community. In order to start laying the ground work for this clinic, Nellie, Patrick (a staff from CPU) and I went to the Department Of Health office for the district we are in (districts here are like states in the US). We arrive at the DOH office to find everyone locked outside of their building. Apparently they lock up all the doors at night and then they give the keys to the police station that is right across the street. Turns out the police lost the keys! HAHAHAHAHA. Needless to say we did not have a meeting with the Minister of Health that day. This served as a funny but stark reminder to both Nellie and me about how disorganized everything is here. It is truly another world.
Example of conceptual blue prints:
Dormitory + Office
1 bunkbed = 2 students
= 4 way cubical = 4 desks
= Roofing ( I made it extend shorter where there are no entrances (this can be changed)
*Note this is theoretical and the size and number of beds will be adjusted on how many students we can take. This is the same for the office
Material Check list:
- ___ Bunkbeds for boys
- ___ Bunkbeds for girls
- ___ Mattresses total
- ___ Bed Sheets total
- ___ Pillows total
- ___ (~ 11) light fixtures total
- 6 rugs to scrape dirt off feet for each entrance
- ___ Outlets for computers/ phones ect. (We can use power strips here which will be less expensive than installing many outlets
- 2 Cubbies cabinets total to put outdoor shoes
- 9 Windows
- ___ (~13) Desks
- ___ Chairs
- 1 Long conference table
- ___ (~3) Cubical partitions
- ___ (~10 doors)
|Item||Number needed||Cost per||Cost Total|
|Bedding (Mats, pillows, sheets, ect.)|
|Light fixtures + Light blubs|
|Outlets + Power strips|
Okay, now something on life inside the brain of Max.
So the major pattern I am seeing in my life right now is a breaking of my “armor” and things being more than okay. Okay, this requires a little clarification. What I mean by “armor” is the mask that we all put off. It is the catalyst that causes a group of teenagers to sit around and talk about how much they are doing in school or what Ivy league colleges they got into. It is the flashy Mercedes we drive around to show we are valuable human beings. I have found in my life that often I use justifications as to why I am a good person. For example, I might say or believe I am a good person because I work out every day, get straight A’s, teach English to refugees, ect. I have recognized over the past the year that although these are all good things they are not what makes me a good person. In other words, I must learn to believe I am a good or valuable person regardless of the virtuous things I do. Now it is one thing to say this and another thing to put this into practice. During the school year I have decided not to put this in practice through letting things go and still finding value because whether I like it or not I have been given the opportunity to create great success and I will take it. Here, it is another story as it is not integral that I am giving school my all and I don’t even have a gym to continue to really work my body. I am watching myself lose my muscle tone and not getting constant validation from my grades and learning to be patient as my productivity is stunted due to the nature of what is commonly called “African time.” Losing this “armor” scared me as you can read about in earlier blog posts but as I have met this challenge with an open mind and a strong heart beautiful things are starting to emerge. Despite the fact that I may not be attractive as once was or receiving accolades people here are accepting me with open arms. I am often complemented as sharp, stubborn, charismatic and overall a really good guy. It has been a beautiful experience for me to see that although these people have no idea of what I have achieved they help affirm values of mine that seem to be innate and not attached to my superficial or outward success. Along the same token, it is becoming clearer and clearer to me the friendships I am making are not a joke. This is not some tourist trip or aid mission where I help and leave. I am forming real friendship and connecting with real hearts and that is even outside of the children affected by war we are working with. I am also forming real friendships with members of the community as we chat, play soccer, hacky sack and then maybe once and while the surface cracks and we are able to talk about what life has been like for us. With a few of my closest friends here we have been to discuss tragedies and major events in our lives along with our hopes and dreams for the future. Some of you may not know about this but my university Lewis and Clark College had some serious problems with racism and racist acts over the past year. This hurt me and many others a great deal. The vast majority of the school felt mobilized to make change and do something but anger and fear drove us all a part and the big coalitions on campus such as the Black Student Union, Feminist Student Union, Queer Student Union, and the Third Culture Kids were not working together. I recognized ultimately what we all wanted was to redress the wrongs done and find peace and acceptance. I sent a large email to many of the heads of these unions explaining exactly this. I further explained that divided we don’t have power but together we can make change for lives even greater than the college community but possibly the Portland community. Some wholly agreed with me and wanted to work with everyone to make change. A few people ignored my emails and told me to shut up and that I had no idea what I was saying because I was white. I thought it was deeply sad that we were letting the racism that started this also stop us from coming together as humans. Tying this now to here and now, what I spoke of as my dream for us coming together is exactly what I am experiencing here. Of course our experiences have similarities and differences but despite skin color and background many of my friends that are here and I are able to come together with experiences we all know because we are all human. This may have been a very roundabout way of saying I am in awe and inspired by the connection we can share regardless of our differences. It goes to show that if we choose love we can all experience the joy of connection. Sorry for the rant but I hope you enjoyed the story. Anyways, that is all for now. Life is going well here. I embarrassed myself in a big soccer game. Nonetheless it was a lot of fun. I am still making many friends and overall I am safe. Thank you for reading my post. Talk again soon.