Re-purposing of waste and the power of vulnerability

by KareMeKuc co-founder Max Clary

Hi Everyone!

It’s about that time again to update you all on how things are moving forward in the project and in my life.

In terms of the project, Nellie left for England yesterday to start work on another internship. While she was here she was able to lay some good ground work on the necessary steps to have a health center for the children and families that Children of Peace Uganda supports. She is also looking at how to bring medical attention out into these small villages via motorbike and linking with organizations that are already doing something similar to this. She is also putting a heavy focus of preventative care through public health teachings such as HIV transmission and prevention along with female adolescent and maternal health. She has now left with a lot of good leads for determining the logistics of setting up adequate health care for the Peace Center as well as all the rest of the children supported by CPU (more than a thousand children FYI)

As for me, I am working on the logistics of getting all of the buildings set up and how we can use all the waste from this center to be more sustainable both in an environmental and economic sense.  Here are some of the ideas I have had so far:

  • Use methane gas from human and animal waste to provide heat and energy
  • Food wastefrom kitchen is either fed to animals at the center or composted.
  • Human wasteor sewage is recycled through composting toilet system which is recycled back into the soil.
  • Using used vegetable oil in a biodiesel generator
  • Mixture of wood ash (from cooking stoves used here) and urine as fertilizer
  • Reverse Osmosis Biofiltration system for purifying water
  • Solar energy
  • Raindrop Box (collects and holds water from runoff on the roof)

I will be meeting with the minister of environmental resources for Lira district on Friday morning in order to share these ideas and hear his comments and suggestions for what else is being done in Uganda. If any of you have heard of interesting and innovative ways of waste management please don’t hesitate to contact me. I would really appreciate any ideas you can offer. So the current plan is once I have a good sense of what environmental and waste management components we can incorporate into the building, I will then seek out a couple different architects and explain the design of how we want this center to look. Jane (founder of CPU) and I have discussed constructing the center in a funky way so it is not boring and looks the same as every other building in Uganda. What this may look like is having triangle and circle and square windows instead of the basic rectangle windows and painting the buildings bright colors. Once we have found a good architect then we start getting a plan drawn up and that’s when we will be in business. Armed with this concrete plan we will be able to get approval for building from the government, talk with various contract companies to get a good price and get a cost estimate for what we will need to fund raise and how it will work on sustaining itself once it is built. This cost estimate and plan of sustainability is integral for being organized, well thought out and attractive to donors.  So that’s where everything is at with the project! Got questions? If so, please contact me here.

 

As for me, I am doing well here. It seems that I got over the initial kind of struggle or adjustment period. Although it was hard, I am very grateful it happened, all of you who really know me know that I am not scared of struggle. In fact, I almost like it because that is where I really grow. A major lesson I learned through this period of struggle with being here and missing home was that I noticed this pattern in myself even before I came to Africa. I realized that when I was at school immersed in academics I longed to be at grandfather’s house relaxing and when I was finally at my grandfather’s house I longed to be in Africa and then when I got to Africa and found my struggles I longed to be back in Portland setting up my new apartment. Don’t get me wrong, I am so so grateful and have enjoyed my entire summer very much but what I realized was an internal focus just on the destination instead of the journey. As cliché as it is, through the struggle I experienced and a growth mindset I took another step forward in understanding the journey is the destination. I got to refocus my mind in understanding that Uganda is not just a place I am coming to but the real destination is in every moment of everyday as I live a full life here. I hope this makes sense as I am finding it difficult to fully articulate the power of presence that I was able to understand and am now trying to convey.  Anyways, life has calmed down for me as I settle into my routine of waking up, getting dress, doing my pushups and brushing my teeth. I then typically head to internet café and research on the next steps of the project. By early afternoon I have eaten a lunch of boiled goat’s meat, beans and rice and I head to CPU’s office and typically my good friend and CPU staff, Dorene, and I head to the villages on what looks like a motocross dirt bike to visit the homes of some of the former child soldiers I have befriended. During these home visits we typically surprise them at home so we can get an accurate account of what their living conditions are. There we talk with them about their life, their past and what they are currently struggling with. After a couple hours and a couple home visits I come home and grab dinner by myself or with my other good friend Isaac. Then sometimes I go have a drink with him or some other  friends. By about 9PM I come home put on my PJs, do my pushups, meditate, take my malaria medication, and journal/ read until I fall asleep.  I hope this gives you all a good picture of what my day looks like. It is pretty amazing here. So that is about all that is going on with me.

Oh! One last thing, many of you know that I plan on being a psychologist (well a psychiatrist but the psychology part is the most interesting to me) so I am always observing myself and how I act and how other humans respond to me or respond to others based on environment and other factors. Pretty much I love observing human nature or trying to understand what is human nature and what is cultural dependent and how do they interact. On this search I think I have stumbled upon something very interesting. That is the power of vulnerability. I have understood in the US that most of the time when I allow myself to be vulnerable with others and open up about struggles, dreams and deep thoughts others feel inclined to open up to me. What I mean by this is that I guarantee every single person reading this post has some issue in their life that is on their mind. Maybe you don’t think about it past the surface level or you contemplate it all the time on what it means and why it holds such a place in your soul. EVERYONE has issues but most like to pretend to others that we don’t. I think that when I allow myself to let others know that I have issues it is like a taking a breath of fresh air for both of us and they can say “ahhhh! ME TOO!” What I have found fascinating is that this same principle seems to work in Uganda too. As in maybe this idea is more human nature and then culturally influenced.  I say this and I believe it is true because my two closest friends here (They are both Ugandan) have only known me for only three weeks but have shared some incredibly personal things with each other and they connect with me in a way they said they have never connected like this before. It is important to note with this idea that some people don’t want to engage in this vulnerable way and for whatever reason (inter or intra personal) they don’t and there does not seem to be much you can do but give it time and be open about yourself.  Anyways, sorry for the rant I just found this very interesting and some of you who read this blog probably think it is interesting too. Sorry to those of you who think its mumbo jumbo. Much love my friends ❤

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