After spending a number of days with the YDA people in Tombura we held a meeting with Luka Beru Francis, Ron Schira, the staff and YDA board. At this meeting we shared our ideas and vision for the future work of YDA and though Ron had his own vision recorded in his notes which he had not shared with them, their vision was almost identical. Listed below are the goals that we have. Though not everything can happen at once we believe that these goals are attainable.
New YDA Health Center
The existing Yubu Medical Clinic is filling an essential need in the Tombura community, however 800 square feet of space is just not enough to satisfy the long-term requirements. Our staff does an exceptional job of caring for those who come in seeking treatment but there are many limitations. As an example, there is no way of determining if a bone is broken or not other than external observation. X-ray services are just not available anywhere for many hundreds of miles. We also cannot accommodate patients in need of multiple night beds as we have so many cases daily that have to be dealt with that our little ward just can’t handle the demand.
With a new, more spacious building we will be able to make it so much easier on the staff to care for patients as well as accommodating more patients and offering more services. We also want to start promoting educational health training at our clinic (especially for young mothers/ Western Equatoria has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world). We do have an X-ray and an ultrasound machine that were donated to us by Canadian Food for the Hungry, but we just have had no space for them. We need a bigger clinic!
Design plans for the new YDA Health Center have been completed by Sherry Bentley (Country by Design) here in Saskatoon. 7000 bricks for the new Health Center have already been made by our YDA team in Tombura and we are expecting construction to start before the end of March 2014. We felt it was better to purchase our own brick making machines than to pay the high price of transporting bricks to the community. We also believe that our brick making program can go beyond serving our own needs. We are hopeful that we can turn our brick manufacturing into a viable business on its own.
Vocational Training Centre
It is easy to see the great need for vocational training and through our experience with the woodworking and sewing programs we already see the potential for them to generate more revenue than expense. The need is so great for these services in these under-developed regions and we believe that as we help our students to learn these high demand skills, we can also help to fund other programs in YDA that may not be able to sustain themselves.
By suggestion of King Mboribamu, more opportunities than what we could see might be available. At present we pay a fairly high price for our dimensioned lumber but he is suggesting that we do have access to trees that can be logged and sawed. At present we are researching the logistics of purchasing a saw mill and other required equipment. If we can make this happen, while developing new skills we can also increase our efficiency. At the other end of the furniture production we would like to teach upholstery so we can produce fine quality finished furniture, all while training multiple trades.
Our sewing program has had 20 graduates so far. We would like to make this part of our vocational training offer. Our goal would be to give the graduating student her own machine upon graduation with the agreement in place that she will pay it back over time through the sale of items she produces. This will fund the replacement of each sewing machine and help ensure sustainability while giving each student an opportunity to get off to a good start.
If we want this Training Centre to have the long term positive spin-offs that we expect we will need well trained instructors. At present we are researching the best schools within a reasonable distance that we might be able to send our instructors to for top quality training and assessing who might be the best candidates. We also need to build and equip a facility with a large generator and necessary tools that will accommodate our needs. Again, like the new Health Clinic the land is secured but we will need to raise funds for the building and equipment.
If you know of anyone who has woodworking equipment that we might be able ad to a container shipment, please contact us.
It will take time to develop all of the programs that might be offered but other potential programs we can see are beyond sewing and wood working are business management, welding, mechanical, electrical and plumbing.
The Tombura Orphanage has about 50 children with 3 adults caring for them. The conditions as you can see from the photos are not good. YDA’s first goal to help them would be to fund the construction of simple buildings that will give them more sleeping space and some privacy from one another. As things are now they are so crowded that they sleep two to a bed and the beds are almost touching! When one child gets sick, the sickness cannot be contained and it spreads to all of them. YDA will be actively trying to raise the funds necessary to get the buildings constructed as soon as we possibly can.
Click on the images to view larger images and descriptions in our Orphanage Gallery.
Luka is actively working with King Mboribamu to find suitable land for our YDA Agricultural Project. There is no shortage of fertile land but we are also trying to secure land that is accessible by road for easy access for the local workers and for the shipment of product. We will have to purchase this land but the cost is quite reasonable. We believe agriculture can more than sustain itself and therefore help fund other YDA initiatives, while teaching valuable skills.
There are no hotels in Tombura so when Luka and Ron arrive they must find alternate lodging. Also some of us (namely Ron 🙂 have trouble eating some of the local food so having a place to prepare food that we are accustomed to would sure help. Yes we would like to have a practical building to stay in, but it would also make it more inviting for others that may want to travel to help. In the future we can see opportunities to have others travel with us to help and possibly even trained professionals to train our staff.
The Catholic church is in great need of repair. Our goal is to raise the funds for the material required and have the local people contribute the labour. Keep in mind that a few dollars goes a long way.
Sisters Recruitment Partnership – Sisters of Our Lady Queen of Peace
Thirty seven years ago, the local sisters were asked by the Bishop of the day to move away from the Tombura area to join another order. Most of this had to do with security or lack of it due to the war. The sisters decided they did not want to leave but rather chose to stay and serve the Tombura community. The Bishop agreed to let them stay but suspended them from recruiting new members; therefore they have not been able to add to their numbers for 37 years! There are only 3 of them left.
Not long before Luka and Ron arrived in January of 2013 the suspension was lifted by Bishop Eduardo Hiibora Kussala. They can now recruit, but they need some help. The cost of room and board, clothing and training for the small order is going to be difficult for them if left on their own. They have asked if YDA might be able to help them financially and in return they would provide us with workers from their order for many years to come.
We believe this is a win-win situation. When managing programs like YDA at arms length, we need to know we can trust the people carrying out the programs and handling the money. We have no reason to question the integrity of any of our staff so far, but adding more sisters to the staff who are sworn to poverty (Sr Ann is presently our receptionist/cashier at the clinic) just ensures long-term credibility. Yes win-win, we help them expand a beautiful calling and they help YDA build a solid foundation.
Click on the images to view larger images and descriptions in our Sisters Recruitment Gallery.