BLOG – Bushfire Childrens Home
JULY 8, 2018
Australian Newsletter #2
On 18 June 2018, our four person Team from Cooma and Gosford in NSW left Bushfire after a fortnight visit with our dear friends. Again we were impressed by the amazing people at Bushfire making real progress in many areas, but most importantly in faith, character and diligence. Although some students and staff had moved on, it was a delight to renew friendships and develop new relationships. Every visitor to Bushfire cannot help but be impressed with the love and hospitality demonstrated by people at Bushfire role modelled by Sam and Eva Kitalya as Directors.
Figure 1 Esther, Pauline, Ken, Sam, Eva and Dr Dawn
Figure 2 Three new Primary Classrooms under construction
We were delighted the Bushfire accepted 17 children with a Teacher from Northern Uganda. These teenagers have obviously been well educated and discipled since their English and faith is strong, but they have experienced terrible suffering.
It was terrific to see how these new children had been welcomed to Bushfire since they arrived with few possessions and much fear. The Bushfire community shared what little they had and Australian supporters provided funds for mattresses and school bags. Although mostly teenagers, their education is at Primary level. However they are so keen to learn at school, develop vocational skills such as building, carpentry, hairdressing, electrical and tailoring and even become Doctors so they can return to rebuild their community. Additional accommodation and School buildings have been required.
Figure 3 Recently arrived children receiving mattresses & school bags
A major achievement has been the Registration of the School which required many visits to Kampala, extensive documentation, site inspections as well as improvements to Laboratory and Library facilities. Registration is not required for Government Schools but enables recognition of Bushfire qualifications and avoids costly frequent transport to Examination Centres.
Figure 4 Senior Boys accommodation near Vocational School
Figure 5 Bushfire Teacher and School children
Changes at the School involve strengthening the Vocational School by appointing a talented Principal, Noah, who is developing the trade skills with very limited resources. Sylvia, previously Head of Primary has taken over leadership of Secondary whilst Teacher Rose is Head of Primary. A recent development is the establishment of a Nursery School under the leadership of Teacher Esther.
Figure 6 Motor mechanics at Vocational school
Figure 7 Hairdressing at Vocational School
The Bushfire Business Centre in the adjacent village of Bulange, which has grid power supply, has developed further beyond the Milling Centre and Shop established last year with support from a USA family. The Centre mills large quantities of maize and rice for both Bushfire and local farmers. The energetic and capable Simon is the BBC Manager. A Carpentry Workshop, under the leadership of Jabel, has been established adjacent to the Milling Centre. Bushfire can now produce much of its own furniture and provides valuable basic training for young people in woodwork. Furniture products can be sold to village people who previously had to travel to a larger village to have their timber milled or furniture purchase.
Figure 8 “Life Journey” session
Figure 9 Tailoring at Vocational school
Figure 10 Jabel at Carpentry Centre
Our small team was able to undertake counselling, sharing the Gospel, medical checks, music sessions and technical guidance. Much of the Counselling and Medical checks were focused on the Bushfire children. Dr Dawn also had some medical challenges with some pregnant women, particularly since she had no back-up pathology or radiology services. The Bushfire Nurse, Esereda was very grateful to be working with Dawn. Pauline taught most days and used her considerable counselling skills to help each of the new children as well as Bushfire children and staff. Esther from Gosford was able to easily relate to the musically talented Bushfire young people through Choir, Guitar lessons and just sharing time laughing. The percussion instruments she brought were very popular and her friends in Australia provided funds to purchase four guitars for the Bushfire music team. The soccer balls were a great hit with intense games involving separate games of Primary Children, Teenagers and Girls – often wearing Cooma Tiger Soccer Club shirts. The older boys demonstrated amazing skill and mentioned that they believed they could easily beat the Socceroos!
Figure 11 Dr Dawn in Clinic
Figure 12 Esther at Recorder class
Figure 13 Old & new footballs
Fig 13 Home Group in Village
For many years, the provision of a reliable supply of fresh water has been a problem at Bushfire. The original wells were not deep and either ran dry or became contaminated. A new well was established on adjacent land and a pipe run to Bushfire. However the “re-charge time” is slow after 15mins of pumping hence volume limited. Another well, 65m deep was drilled at the bottom of the Bushfire property in a soak area. This well appears to have ample good quality water and recovers quickly during test pumping. Funding from Australian supporters is being provided to provide a submersible pump, head tank with a tower and pipeline to connect with existing storage tanks at Bushfire. Initially it was thought that the pump would need to be powered by a small diesel generator with inherent high operating cost and reliability concerns. However an Application to the Australian High Commission in Uganda for funding of a 4.5kW solar, battery and inverter power supply was successful. The Australian Government has provided just over A$14,000 towards the project under its Direct Action Programme (previously known as AUSAID). This generous support follows a site visit by AHC representatives from Nairobi who were impressed by what has been achieved at Bushfire and the obvious ethical leadership of Sam and Eva.
Figure 14 New water supply tanks
Figure 15 Maintenance team of Ben and Jairus with electrical equipment from Australia
Another notable achievement was establishing a relationship with the Global Development Group based in Brisbane which manages financial gifts to Bushfire providing Tax Deductibility for donors. For a small 7.5% commission, GDG ensure that funds given to Bushfire are correctly spent as intended, Child Protection and Financial probity standards are fulfilled, financial receipts and statements issued to meet Australian Tax Office requirements and they receive a better exchange rate than you or I could manage.
Sam, with the help of Florence, will be enhancing the communication process between Sponsors and Children to develop the relationships. Further development of the Business Centre is also being planned with USA supporters. During our visit, it was good to meet Eric from Washington State since he and his family have been long-time partners of Bushfire.
Finally it is pleasing that Sam’s health has improved and that he now appears to have a reliable, competent and committed leadership team to support him and Eva. They and others have been much encouraged by visitors from West Australia, UK and the USA. Many improvements achieved with the help of previous visitors are evident. Some of young people developed through Bushfire are now in various leadership roles which augers well for the future. Indeed many students and staff asked that their gratitude be passed on. On-going prayer and financial support is required to protect the Bushfire people and to enhance this remarkable ministry.
Ken & Paulina Lister, Cooma, NSW 2630