We have been here in Lira for just a few days now, and I am already exhausted. Construction of the new kitchen commenced yesterday and while we waited for mortar to arrive, some of us slugged water while some tried their hand at shovelling stones. We carried bucket after bucket of water from the nearest taps about 70 feet away.
The project management part of my brain that I have been trying to keep quiet, was screaming at the operational in-efficiencies, but my more rational side is recognizing how challenged the Almond College is for resources as well as even just logistical space to get the job done.
We spent a good chunk of the morning simply moving bricks from their original dump spot over to the worksite. I think after seeing us carry two or three bricks at a time, and feeling sorry for us, the students came over and formed spontaneous lines, so that we could just pass the bricks along from the brick pile to line the worksite/foundation for the new kitchen building. Eventually, after shifting all of the bricks we started laying them under the watchful eye of the construction crew foreman. I have a new skill to add to my list of trades in preparation for the day I pry myself out of my desk job!
And after an arduous morning of labour, we have been spending afternoons with the young people, the S3 students working through leadership training, doing our best to facilitate the development of their leadership skills.
For years, I have kept a journal. In getting ready for this trip I made sure my journal made its way to my carry on luggage, my plan being to chronicle this journey on daily basis. But I have found that in the last couple of days that I have been so drained and tired, I have fallen asleep with pen in hand. So perhaps a keyboard is a better avenue, but I still think and fear that my written words will not do justice to this place and the resilience of these young people. Since I have been here, a quote, has been continuously running through my mind. Meeting these young people, some of them with seemingly old souls has brought new meaning and insight…“The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.“ – M. Lerner.
Dena – July 7, 2011