We recently visited Jireh Children’s Center in Kyabazala. This is one of our own Children’s Centers. It started as one of the 56 church plantings. About two years ago, a boy and a girl were found dead at the side of the road, they were sacrificed with their genitals removed. This is a witch craft ritual that is a problem in certain areas. That is when Pastor Kintu decided to bring a school to the village, so the children would not be walking those long distances. This is a primary school only and that is why in the pictures or stories you may have heard are all of a primary age children at this school. This is not a boarding school as our other facility in Masaka, because in Kyabazala most of the children have families to go home to.
The problem they face right now is chiggers, or jiggers, there are a few spellings of this little bug. There are two types that you may find if you do a web search, the North American variety referred to as a harvest chigger found probably close to your area and the African variety. The African variety seems a bit more aggressive and become more of a problem because of the African environment for example, sanitation, antibiotics to guard against infection, dirt floors in class rooms, no shoes etc. With a dirt floor in a sheltered area these tiny insects thrive as they are waiting for a new host. These itch and can be very painful and it can become difficult to walk or to concentrate on their studies. As with any infection that is not treated, it can lead to the loss of limbs or even death.
After some research and consulting with the staff here we have come to the following recommendations. Concrete the floors in the classrooms, and meet with the families with instructions to help care for the children, and to remove chiggers from their toes, feet, and legs and to treat the wounds, which in some cases it may be just supplying rubbing alcohol.
The chiggers do not survive on concrete floors, so concrete is the number one item on the list. If they are out in the open in the dirt, they will not survive because of the heat. So fumigation doesn’t seem to be needed. If we were to supply shoes it would be very expensive for 370 children and since this is not a boarding facility we would not have any control over the care and security for their safe keeping.
Presently there is one large building with dirt floors and one outside structure used as a classroom with just poles with a branch and palm leaves top so it obviously has a dirt floor as well. I believe it would be possible to build a concrete slab for the outside building and later erect a building on top of the foundation like we do in America. It is a common practice here to construct a building first and then pour a concrete floor when they can afford it because floors are somewhat of a luxury item. The philosophy is to first build a shelter from the rain and sun and then the floor, backwards to us but forward to them. When resources are limited you adjust to the situation.
There are a few things that need improvement at this facility, like the outhouses. When I went to use it, I turned around and said to myself that I will just go find a tree, and then I realized that for them that was not supposed to be an option, especially if you had to spend more time in there like squatting over the hole etc. So I went back in side, as they say in Africa, for a short call. It was a realization of the situation of everyday life here especially in remote areas. Some outhouses when constructed and maintained properly can be a quite a bit more pleasant. I only saw one outhouse with three spots for 370 children and staff. In comparison we have five or six outhouse buildings at Jireh Children’s Center in Masaka with less than 300 children and adults. These can be built with a properly dug hole with ventilation, and in some areas they can be pumped when they reach the capacity limit. Some of this makes a difference of the geographic location because of the water table level, swamp areas, etc. In some areas they need to be built upstairs on a concrete foundation and platform.
I am not sure what funding anyone is able to raise, but the preliminary estimate for the chigger problem would be around $2000.00 USD. When we receive earmarked funds we make sure the funds go as far as possible and to the particular project it is intended for. Any funding that you are able to send should be marked in the memo section Children’s Center Kyabazala if there is money available after the initial problem is resolved the balance will still go to other improvements at that facility. When we receive general donations, we work on priorities, but as you may have noticed on our web site, we support a big ministry, with over six hundred children and 56 village churches. There are always a lot of needs, but slowly as each heart is touched to a particular cause things happen. Praise the Lord!
Just for general information:
Presently the teacher’s and staff monthly salaries for both of the Jireh Children’s facilities are funded through donations to the foundation. The buildings have been constructed by various international mission groups as they have time and money. So at any one time you will find buildings in different stages of construction. In some pictures you may have noticed a building that has a roof and plastered walls and looks complete, and another that does not have doors or windows yet and is of bare bricks with no plaster. And of course we have the buildings at both facilities that do not have concrete floors yet, the chigger problem at Masaka hasn’t reached the levels of Kyabazala yet, so that is why we are emphasizing that particular facility first and refer to it as urgent. We also have some older buildings that need maintaining. We hope to have a more comprehensive list available on our web site later this year; this is one reason why our mission trip here is for five months this year. I can already see that after we complete the water project H208 for Jireh Children’s Center in Masaka, that we will start H209 for Jireh Children’s Center Kyabazala.
Yes the list is big, but so is our God, Amen!