Summer 2015 Update

Luka and I recently returned from South Sudan and though we had a number of new challenges come to the forefront, we did accomplish a great deal. We had multiple important meetings with community leaders and government officials as well as our YDA group.

Construction of the new clinic is well underway (directly behind our existing clinic) and though we are not expecting completion until late in the fall, it is encouraging to see the progress. African building standards are not to the level they are here, so there are a few challenges but we are managing to keep the construction going while doing everything we can to keep tight control on the costs.

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Our little 800 square foot existing clinic continues to serve the community in a very big way. This picture of our outdoor waiting area was taken at 10 AM on a Monday morning. Approximately 20 adults and a similar number of children.

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Funding

We held fundraisers in 2013 and 2014, but this year decided not to. If all goes as planned we will do it again in the spring of 2016.

We sincerely appreciate the help you have given in the past and would like to ask you to consider a donation to help us bridge the funding gap in 2015. We are hoping donations can be in by the end of July or early August so we can assess our financial position and then move forward accordingly. Thank you so much!

Please send donation to:
Yubu Development Agency Inc
304C 4th Ave N
Saskatoon, SK
S7K 2L7

I have listed the requirements for funding over the next 2 to 3 years, along with approximate costs in Canadian dollars. We have to wire money in US funds which is hurting us now with our dollar at around 80 cents. Please don’t be discouraged when you see the numbers. Remember, this is an estimate of what we think we will need to get most of our projects started and though the money won’t all be there right away, it is a work in progress.

I would like to see how much this email raises, add my annual donation to it and if we are still quite short for our immediate needs, I may look at borrowing some from our bank. If we do in fact do that, I will personally sign to secure the loan and I will pay all of the interest, therefore continuing to fulfill my commitment that 100% of the money you donate will end up being used for our projects in Africa. I have checked with our accountant, and loans like this are a legal and common practice with many registered charities. In our case the loan will help us to start some of the programs earlier rather than later, which in turn will give us more time to develop them prior to our exit. Remember that as of 2020 we will want everything under the YDA umbrella to be self-sustaining and run by the people there, so the earlier we can get them going, the more time we will have to fine tune their management. There will be other financial needs between now and 2020, but this will keep us going for a good part of it.

Medical Clinic Completion shortfall $35,000
Solar and Generator System $15,000
Used Vehicle purchase $25,000
Land Purchase $15,000
Band Sawmill $12,000
Shipping Cost for Container $30,000 ( will contain medical equipment, woodworking equipment, bicycles, hospital supplies and possibly a the sawmill for assembly on site)
Building Shell for Carpentry $10,000
Agricultural Storage Buildings $10,000
Staff Training $15,000
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$167,000

Thank you again for helping in our mission. We could not have accomplished what we have so far without your generosity and we hope and pray for your continued support to see this through.

God Bless,
Ron

Optional Reading:

If you would like to know more about some of the things we did while in South Sudan, please read the following.

A lot of planning and adjusting on the fly has to happen when travelling to these remote areas; not as much because of the remoteness, but mostly because of the poor road conditions. Once you are in or near a community where there is someone you hope to meet, you want to make sure you take the opportunity, because getting back there is not easy.

*Michael Tombura (YDA founder with Luka) and his lovely wife Gloria had Luka and I over for supper our first night in Juba. She and her mother prepared some of the foods I could eat and it was very good. It was nice to get to know them better and meet the family.

* Meeting with Honourable Jema Nunu Kumba in Yambio. She is the Nationally elected Minister in charge of electricity, water, damns and irrigation. She is an intelligent lady with an inside track and many insights on government direction and what might work and what might not. She helped to answer some of our questions with Agriculture as well.

* We spent almost one full day reviewing the present YDA Clinic operation, control systems and establishing a direction with Samuel and Joseph, our two head people.

* I met Father Alfred the local priest in Tombura. I established some parameters with him on the church repair as we have offered to pay the material costs if the members of the congregation provide the labour. He invited me to address the packed church at the first mass Sunday morning (800-1000 people). I think he wanted me to speak for 5 minutes but I spoke for 10 so he gave me the hook 🙂

* We held a Vision Meeting under the tree in front of the Clinic (meeting lasted most of the day) with Samuel, Joseph and a number of other key YDA members from the community. We established some common goals so everyone is on the same page with realistic expectations of what we want to accomplish through YDA over the next 5-6 years. I got pooped on under that tree! 2 days in a row 🙁 some say it’s a blessing; Hope so 🙂

* Visited the Adesa Boarding School for girls. It’s a wonderful initiative but very underfunded. There is much we can do that does not have to cost a lot of money. I asked why only a boarding school for girls? Why not a boys school as well? The answer was very specific. These schools for girls are not just about education but about protecting them from early pregnancy and probable teenage marriage without even a chance to enter adulthood with the ability to determine their own future.

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Our own Joseph Parata and his daughter.

* We hosted a Community Leaders Meeting which included some government officials, the King and a number of other influencial people. We explained our self-sustainable message and spent a good part of the meeting helping them to understand that even though we charge for our services at the Clinic, we are still a charity. We charge as a means of cost recovery, not to earn a profit. The King commented that of the 25 or so NGO’s working in and around the community, YDA is the only one progressing. Taxation is an issue because they have no set formula and some government officials would like to tax us. It is a work in progress to help them understand that we are not remotely interested in paying taxes to a government who is counting on us to fulfill essential services that they cannot afford to offer.

* New Clinic construction: The structure is up and progressing at a moderate rate. We reviewed all aspects of construction with the contractor including our electrical system which will be a combined solar/generator system with a switch from one to the other, depending on current requirements. Also I reviewed the septic system with them that was completed for us by Greg Plett from TankSmart here in Saskatoon. He donated his time to develop a plan for us. Interestingly, the normal biological breakdown of solids that occurs in a typical septic tank, does not work in a hospital setting. The waste has medicines/antibiotics that do not allow the normal process to happen. We therefore have to do things a little differently and we also want to be sure that the waste from our clinic does not contaminate the ground water. Greg is very knowledgable and taught us how to accomplish these things.

*Met with Govenor Joseph Bakasoro Bangasi in Juba. We discussed our self-sustaining goals, our future plans and the need to have better roads to open up the economy. At present the roads are not really roads and as a result the cost of transportation is extremely high, therefore very detrimental to economic trade from one area to another. Also we discussed at length the need for government co-operation helping us upgrade the training of our medical staff and to help source a doctor. He said they will help but the level and type of help is unknown at this point in time.

Interesting Note: Right before our meeting he had met with a representation of the Nuer rebels who had tried to over-throw the current government. And right after our meeting he was travelling to the President’s office to deliver the news from his meeting. African politics, wow!

* We went to see the Catholic Sisters and they have 22 new recruits. As Sr Marcella says,’ many are called but few are chosen’ so we know they will not all follow through to their final vows. We will continue to partner with them as they will provide honest, dedicated workers for YDA’s future. On a sad note, we lost Sr Ann late last fall to cancer. She was the sweetest, most dedicated person you could meet and played a big role in helping us start the YDA Clinic. We are committed to continuing what she helped to start.

* Started shopping for a vehicle: The clinic quite often runs out of certain medicines and is at the mercy of others for delivery service. We believe a vehicle could be a profitable investment. Not only will regular trips for medicine be made, but we will run it as a courier service which is much needed in the community. The fees we charge will pay for our expenses and more. Finding a good used Toyota Land Cruiser (really the only vehicle that can handle those roads) from a credible dealer is not easy. Not because the vehicles don’t exist but because the ‘credible dealers’ don’t exist! We will likely have to source one from outside the country.

*Travelled to view farmland. We were offered a nice piece of land to purchase by the King but it turned out that one of our potential neighbours was wanting to expand his land base. We want to be sure we respect our neighbours and we never want to do anything that could harm or be perceived as harming the ability of the locals to earn a livelihood. We have since been offered another quality tract of land. We hope to clear 10 – 20 acres this year and prepare for our first planting before the end of 2015.

Jatropha: This is a very interesting plant that I learned about in Uganda. It was originally planted around orchards and gardens to keep the baboons out. The leaf and the bean are both poisonous. The adult baboons knew that and would not bring their young anywhere near it, hence the orchards and gardens were protected. Ten to fifteen years ago it was thought to be an amazing opportunity for a number of reasons; it produces a bean that when crushed produces diesel and can produce multiple times per year. The concept sounded good in theory and many believed it was special because it grew on poor soils and with little moisture; was not a food source so therefore would not compete with cropland used for food production.

Many in Africa began to plant large tracts of land to Jatropha in the hopes of getting rich. It didn’t work! Why? Because, though it grew on poor soil and with little moisture, it also produced very little in the form of seeds/beans. Yes it grows in these conditions, but to produce properly it still needs ample nutrition and water. These are 2 ingredients we have a lot of near Tombura. The soil is very rich, mostly untouched (covered in bush) and we have 9 to 10 months of rainy season!

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We think we can learn a lot from others’ mistakes and we are going to start with a small plot and try develop a plan from there. We actually have some growing right beside the clinic and these plants are just hanging with beans.

*Logging and sawmill: We checked out what they refer to as sawmills and it turns out they don’t really have any in the entire area. What they call a sawmill is in fact a man with a chainsaw, roughly shaping 2 X 4’s from a tree or using an old table saw trying to straighten boards. I would estimate over half of each tree ends up as sawdust. We would like to ship a portable bandsaw mill to our YDA people and start a business of logging and lumber sales. The need is great and the service at present is not offered in a proper way at all. More research will be required and people development will be key.

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This is not a very efficient method and we know we can do it so much better and provide a supply of quality lumber like has never been seen in this area.

Thank you for your interest and your help.

God Bless,
Ron

YDA: You can help

Hello to All,

I would like to invite you to attend one of our two Yubu Development Agency Inc fund raisers this spring being held April 24th in Saskatoon and April 26th in Spiritwood. Please see the attached details below and visit our website at ydahelps.org.

For those of you who may be wondering about the unrest in South Sudan since mid December, I can say that though there has been terrible fighting in some regions of the county, there has been none in our area at all. We are continuing to move forward with our projects and see no reason to slow the progress. The fighting has however affected my plans to be there in March. I cannot travel to Tombura as I would have to travel through Juba and that area has been very unsettled. Luka is in Tombura now as he still has citizenship and speaks the language, so he feels safe. Though the people in and around Tombura are concerned about the fighting in other parts of their country, they want to continue moving in a positive direction. They understand that greed under the guise of tribal warfare is in no way going to accomplish anything positive.

Our main project at present is the construction of our new 4000+ square foot Health Clinic. Over 7000 large bricks (18 X 10 X 6) have been made by our team and final preparations are underway so construction can begin sometime this spring. As you can imagine this is a large and costly undertaking, but a necessary one. The little 800 sq ft clinic we work out of now is far too small to accommodate the growing demand. Some months we treat over 1100 patients! Yes, we are saving many lives and helping to prevent suffering and you can be part of that success.

And while the health project is happening, we are continuing to work on our other future goals like the development of an agricultural program, vocational training centre, building a guest house, helping the orphanage and continuing to develop our partnerships with the local schools, the Sisters and the church. These partnerships are all essential in developing long lasting, sustainable programs that will be run by local people, mostly under the umbrella of YDA.

We will never be an organization that is continually knocking on your door for donations, however to get most of these projects up and running money is needed. We will raise what we raise in our fund-raisers and make do with that. If you have helped us in the past, thank you from the bottom of my heart! Please consider this as an opportunity for you to use a small part of what you have to make someone else’s life better.

I believe that the opportunities and talents we are blessed with are all gifts from God and putting those gifts to good use in the service of others, is the best way we can say Thank you to Him.

Sincerely,

Ron Schira