Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Introduction to what we'll be doing

It dawned on me last night that a number of people viewing this blog might not have a full understanding of what our project and overall trip will involve. So, here in a nutshell is what we'll be doing. 

First, we will be building 23 libraries-one at Bethany Village, a home for orphaned children near Lake Victoria.  The other 22 are in the Zombo District, which is in Northwest Uganda, right on the Congo border. The tribe we work with is the Alur.  If you don't have a new map, it will be shown as the western one third of the former Nebbi District.  In all, there will be 38 of us- 23 in the first group, 15 in the second.  Four of us are in both groups- me, my daughter Carolyn, son Mark and Andrew Price. Many of us are from Chapelwood United Methodist Church which has provided significant help and support. 

We are also happy to welcome Dr. Todd and Sue Price and friends of theirs, who will not only help with libraries, but who also will work on health issues, especially de-worming of children, something they have done in many parts of the world. Two doctors, Dr. Ed Lynch and Dr. Jeff Bates from Chapelwood ,will be working with both the libraries and the health project.

We have shipped around 50,000 books (thanks again Chapelwood not only for the donations, but the storage). Patrice Cotham would tell you that every one of those books was in her house at one time, but that's probably only 90% true. Our good friend Jess Stokely at Christian Alliance helped us muster and get these shipped out in a cargo container. (Hard to even imagine all the good and hope that Jess has been responsible for sending all over the world).The container also brought books for 4 other orphanages, the United Methodist Church's Bishop of East Africa located in Kampala, a health library for the Zombo District, starter sets of 7-10 boxes of books for ten other schools and a number of surplus books that we can fill holes with and also build still more libraries.

The books are mostly donated--a few were bought used.  Half-Price Books was by far and away our most generous patron.  Thank you and everyone please buy their books. Friends of the Houston Public Library also donated many books.  Chapelwood, often through individual Sunday Schools and families, also donated a ton of books (literally).  More friends than I can count brought a box here, a bag there.

Due to the generosity of the Chapelwood Foundation, we will also be bringing solar lanterns that will let the children read at night. One of the reasons that the Zombo kids haven't been able to compete so well for scholarships, aside from not having any books, is that they lack electricity and the alternatives for reading at night such as fire or kerosene lamps are expensive, poor and dangerous. These lanterns will make an incredible difference.

More details to follow.

Afoyo (thank you in Alur)

Mark Cotham

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