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Visit to Kibaale

by Bram Moolenaar

(Ed. note: Bram Moolenaar is the author/maintainer of the
very popular open-source VI editor clone, VIM (VI iMProved). Bram
uses donations from VIM users to help support an African orphanage.
In the words of the author: “Vim is Charityware. You can use and
copy it as much as you like, but you are encouraged to make a
donation to orphans in Uganda.” Below is Bram’s report of his most
recent visit to the orphanage.)

During the past two weeks, I made a visit to Kibaale Children’s
Centre (KCC). Since KCC is sponsored by donations from Vim users,
and because I have promised some of you to report about my
experiences, here is an overview of my trip.

For background information on KCC, see “:help kcc” in Vim, or
check out http://www.vim.org/iccf.

The last time I visited Kibaale was about two years ago. Since
then, quite a few things have changed. A few buildings have been
added: a block of classrooms for the primary school (including a
library) and housing for teachers and workers. The main changes,
however, are with the people working there. More of the work is
being done by Ugandans. The school is now largely run by local
people, including the headmaster. This is another step in the
direction of having the centre run without depending on outside
help.

A small clinic has been started to improve the medical care. A
nurse from England, Ceri, helps doing this. She is still looking
for a local nurse to help her and to be trained by her. There are
plans to vaccinate all the children in the near future. The
cooperation with the new hospital in Rakai (about 15 kilometers
from Kibaale) is improving. We will try to support the clinic
financially. There is still some startup cost (e.g., for a gas
fridge to store the vaccins). And money is needed monthly for the
materials that are used. The local people are asked to pay a small
amount for treatment, but this does not cover the real costs. I
hope we can find sponsors for this.

On Saturday, I went with Stephen to visit three of our sponsored
children. Stephen works on the project to keep an eye on the
children and make sure that they get the help that they need. I
visited the children at home, so that I could see where they live
and talk to the family. All three of these children are in an
extended family since they lost their parents. The small houses
that they live in are OK, although one of them had broken
plastering and the roof was leaking in another. They don’t have the
money to fix this. Stephen will look into the possibility to help
them. This is a matter of budget and priority, we can only help the
most needy.

One of the children I visited was Geoffry Kyoma, which I sponsor
myself. I brought him a few presents, which made him very happy.
But he didn’t really smile. After asking a few questions, it became
clear that he was ill, probably from malaria. Fortunately he
recovered the next week and was able to attend school again. I had
brought colorful balloons for the other five children in the family
(there is no toyshop in Uganda!). The oldest brother provides the
family with food by working on the piece of land they have. And
then he has to go to school too! The guardian of the children is an
old grandmother, who has problems with her eyes and can’t work on
the land. It is clear that Geoffry really needs my help.

I was happy to see that Uganda has improved during the last two
years. Many roads have been repaired. The dirt road to Rakai, which
has always been covered with potholes, has been tarmaced (thanks to
Danida, the Danish development organisation). The people in the
street seem to be wearing better clothes. There is now a bus
driving daily to Kampala (the capital of Uganda) and back. This
means that there are more people that can afford to pay for the
trip, which is a good sign.

Overall I was very happy to see the improvements. Of course,
there is still a long way to go. AIDS doesn’t just go away and
there are still an awful lot of orphans in poor families. But it
makes me feel good to see that our money there really helps the
people. And this motivates me to continue supporting KCC.

If you would like to help the orphans in Kibaale, please see
“:help kcc” in Vim, or see http://www.vim.org/iccf/sponsor.html
and http://www.vim.org/iccf/donate.html.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.