Today (6 Jun) we spent the day working at the Nancy School for the Deaf in Lira, Uganda. The school is a sad place. The dormitories are in poor condition and there are few recreational possibilities. The school has no electricity and cows wander fairly freely through the school grounds. We spent our time on two projects:
- repairing the primitive solar-lighting system in the boy’s and girl’s dorms and
- repairing the school’s 4-seat swing set.
A couple of years ago, we had installed both the solar-lighting system and the swing set. Both had fallen into disrepair. Bill Grenney (director of SeeeMe, headquartered in Park City, UT) worked on the solar project and I worked on the swing set repair. I was assisted (actually he did most of the work) by our driver Abdul.
The initial hangers on the Nancy swing set were made locally and they hadn’t survived very well. Only two of the 4 seats were still functional. So we decided to replace all 8 hangers (2 for each seat) with ones that we had brought with us from the USA. In addition to repairing the hangers, we made some other minor improvements.
Once we finished our swing repairs, the kids immediately sprang into action. They kept the swing set busy for the next 5 hour, come rain or shine. And they used the set hard, making an almost 180 deg. arc with each pass. The “new and improved” swing set seemed more than capable of handling the heavy use, which included helicoptering. But only time will tell how tough our system is.
When we return in January, we will not only check out the status of our repairs, but we will also add more outdoor recreation equipment. The residence school has far too little outdoor recreation equipment.
The kids at the school don’t have much. Most go around bare-foot, though a few have flip-flops. Their clothes are mostly threadbare. The head teacher indicated that some of the children are just dropped off like so much excess baggage. But despite everything, they seem remarkably happy. They were curious about everything that we did.