At Home in Uganda...

Img_4014 Posted by David Gough on Wed, 08 Oct 2008 | 1 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

At home in Uganda

It’s around 100 miles from Yei (in Southern Sudan) to Arua (in northwest Uganda). In 2006 I completed the journey in approximately 3.5 hours, last year it took 6.5 hours but we managed the journey in an hour less this time. It was extremely exhausting with 3 people sitting across the front seats of a pick-up and getting covered in red dust from the road, choked with fumes from oil-burning trucks. Thankfully the trip was without any major incident, except for a brief moment at the Kaya border the immigration clerk wanted me to pay for an entry Visa. I was travelling on my Irish passport and therefore did not require a Visa.

We drove straight to the Jericho compound near the Diocese of Madi-West Nile Cathedral – where CMS Ireland’s newest Mission Partners, the Den Breejen family live. Aart, Geesje, 6-year-old Anna Fleur, 4-year-old Rueben and 2-year-old Jan Lucas are CMS Ireland’s first Dutch Mission Partners.

They left home on 24th July to serve in the Diocese of Madi-West Nile in the West Nile Ecumenical Vocational Training Centre (WNEVTC) in Arua. Having visited their home in Holland, it was really quite encouraging to see them so at home in their new Ugandan residence. The Jericho compound has 2 mission houses and is truly beautiful – with pink blossom and fruit trees (like mango and orange) growing, while the children enjoy the freedom to play bare-foot around the garden.

Life has been much better since they took delivery of their Toyota Landcruiser Prado and they were able to purchase a fridge freezer. They are now even connected to the Internet via a mobile modem. They also have help around the house and garden, Grace and Godfrey who had previously worked for 2 CMS Ireland Mission Partner families. Grace is an excellent cook and
Godfrey a great practical help around the compound and garden, he’s already tending a growing vegetable garden for the family with potatoes, ground nuts, tomatoes and even beetroot.

The family are living temporarily in the smaller house while they complete the refurbishment work at the other bigger house. This will become their home. Work is progressing well with the kitchen, which required major attention, being extended and completely re-roofed. The students have been helping with the refurbishemnt and Aart, who is very practical, has been
helping with the electrics and plumbing, while Geejse has been doing the painting. Unfortunately, while there is a mains electrical and water supply, it is neither reliable nor consistent. While I was there Aart undertook some creative work, refurbishing the rainwater harvesting system, which has not been fully operational for a number of years.

They are already engaging in the spiritual life of the Diocese with Aart having been invited to be a Reader in the Cathedral and Geesje an Usher. Geesje also attends a weekly bible study for expat women.

Aart works for the Diocese as the Co-ordinator of the WNEVTC. The centre re-opened in May 2006 and has been barely surviving with meagre resources. Currently 33 students are in their last term of training in the centre’s 3 courses: Joinery; Building; Vehicle Mechanics and Driving Tuition. He has a huge challenge to develop the WNEVTC into a centre of excellence for vocational training in the region. I’m confident, with the help of the instructors and the support of the Management Committee and the Diocese, Aart will succeed. Please continue to pray for the family as they integrate into the WNEVTC, the church and life in Arua.

Creative chainsaw Aart

When I attended the den Breejen’s Commissioning Service at their home church in Holland I witnessed a new creative side of Aart. Considering his degree was in agriculture I was impressed how much of a passion he has for wood and making things from wood. I learned he also ‘hoards’ bits and pieces that just some day might be useful. He made a beautiful modern coffee table from oak pallets that engines were delivered on, he also made their bed from the same pallets. He claims the holes, which were designed to help lift the engines, add a unique feature to the furniture.

While visiting I also noticed that he had quite a number of chainsaws in his store. The previous evening, Geesje informed me, he had made 2 benches by cutting a tree trunk in half to accommodate visitors after the Commissioning Service. His chainsaws are currently being shipped to Arua so he can continue with his passion for making things. In his shed at home he
had also quite a range of planks of various wood for another project some day, I later discovered he had already moved the majority of his precious wood to his in-laws, this was only the leftovers.

One of the first things he did on the Jericho compound was to prune the trees and shrubs. With the wood he made charcoal, which is the main fuel used to cook with in Africa. He was really pleased with the result – high quality charcoal. Unfortunately, it was moved into storage before it was burnt out with the result the small store it was put in was burned down and the charcoal was lost.

He’s already purchased a complete tree in Arua. It has a 4-foot girth and he plans when it is cut down and well seasoned to cut it up, when his chainsaws arrive, and make something useful. He has also purchased some wood for the WNEVTC students to practice their joinery skills on. He has already selected ‘his place’ in the Jericho compound to release his creativity. Watch this
space… I look forward to my next visit to see what his chainsaw art has produced.


MUJUNI JULIUS said Wed, 15 Oct 2008 10:45AM
Very interesting for that mission across Africa. The trek wasn't easy i assume. But all in all Glory be to God. Southern Sudan isn't easy as per migration rules i have experienced the same problems though with vital passport and travel documents. Anyway, keep on with God's flock. JULIUS PLUMBING INSTRUCTOR YEI VOCATIONAL TRAINING COLLEGE SOUTHERN SUDAN