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Community Driven Project

With the first day of construction in the bag, we were ready to kick ass! Out of excitement, Bill and I started out early in the morning with a meeting regarding the construction schedule in bed.

We made some adjustments based on the input from the workers. I am so lucky to have Bill here with me. He literally messaged me in December while I had booked my airfare. During this time, I was scheduled to travel alone to Uganda to take this project on and my mom was super worried that I was traveling by myself. Bill had lost his job and was looking to get involved with volunteer work. He has a background in construction, video making, and was a close friend from high school. It was a perfect fit. We spoke a few more times over video call, discussed travel dates, and agreed to come along. It was the best thing that could have happened.

Here in Uganda, Bill is an on site inspector who watches the construction workers each day, creates reports of progress by filling out daily inspection reports, records how many workers are working each day, coordinates and manages all the needs of the on-site construction and most importantly leads the micro flush toilet construction. If he was not here, I would not have as much free time as I do. He gives me more bandwidth to dive into the school curriculum, operations, community relationships with stakeholders, etc. I have even started to teach a class to the older students in Grade 6 and 7.

My course is called “Community”. My thought here is to first lay out the foundation of what is a “community” then go into what makes a “good community” vs “bad community”. Then, talk about how a community is different from “society” or “family”. Eventually the main objective of the course is to have my students study our Kirindi community, lay out the good and the bad. Afterwards, eventually they will have ideas as to how to make our community better and turn them into action items that the students can actually take. I am very excited to teach this course. I feel like the whole reason I am in Uganda is because this community does have that potential. I have worked in Nepal for over 5 years now and have always struggled to meet a community that is driven with hope, passion, love, and a desire to fight for a better future for the kids. Usually from my past experience, somehow a self-interests creeps into people, and I have yet to see that come in and stay here.

Teacher Steven helped me with combining P6 and P7 together and we met inside the church. First the benches and desks were in a row and I was not able to see all my students. Immediately, I changed the shape of the class to a half circle so that I am able to see all of my students. Secondly, I asked my students to sit with someone new each time I teach. In my head, I wanted them to stay away from their friends they are close to already and find ways to bridge new friendships. This classroom is a community. They can make this class a strong community.

Once the digging of the foundation was completed, we placed an order of big rocks to place them into the foundation with a local hardware store owner, James. James is our main man. We asked him to bring sand, gravel, cement, and any other materials needed. Every trip, he drives with high acceleration, entering the job site with his truck full of materials. It is one of the funniest things. Everyone working will look up and laugh. When he did bring the big rocks later the same day we placed an order, he was unable to place it behind the church so he dropped those materials in front of the church. School is behind the church and moving them to the school foundation would require a lot of effort. David suggested to utilize the older students to carry them. If all of them helped, we would be able to bring the stones into the foundation in less than 10 minutes. Here I was teaching about “Community” in my class, and already the students are contributing to making their community stronger. This also allowed students to contribute towards their new school so when years passed by, they can say I helped build this school. I tossed rock into making this foundation of our new school strong! This action not only helped make the foundation of the school strong from a structural standpoint but also through teamwork.


The workers also completed digging the digester pit and started to dig the soak pit for the micro flush toilet. Everything is coming along!

I have set up a small office space with a table and chair inside the church. I peek outside the window to see the construction work happening throughout the day as I prepare for my class, manage all the paperwork for the project, order materials, complete payroll for construction workers, review project design plans, deal with constructability issues, meet with stakeholders, and also from time to time write blogs.

All this stuff is happening and when there are times I get some free time in between, a group of small cute students gather around me and watch me work. As I am working, I feel this calling to engage with them because how long can I ignore them? My heart wants to engage while my mind is telling me, “No Saroj! Focus on the work, there is a school to be built”. This time my heart won. I gave in. We took photos, selfies, and talked. I came to find out they have never used a laptop, so it made sense that they were watching me with so much interest.


When I was in Connecticut, my nephew Bihaan used to disrupt me while working on my laptop to type ABC through Z. He would sit on my lap and would type out the alphabet. I thought to myself, maybe the kids can type ABCD…to…Z too. I asked if there is anyone who wants to use the laptop? One of the kids volunteered and I asked the kid to type out the alphabet. When he completed the set, we all clapped and cheered. The second student came and started typing but I had to go before this child could finish because something came up with construction. Below are the exact alphabets the kids had typed up.



Later after the work for the day was completed, Bill, David and I went home. After getting home, there was a lost baby chicken that was around us. David investigated whose baby chicken it was. Unable to find the owner, Bill named the chicken Phillip. Phillip would come around our feet with no fear.  Later that night, baby Philip got so comfortable with us that it started to hang out with us as a homie would. It was surreal. We took him in as one of our own.

After a discussion with David and Milly, we decided we shall buy Philip when and if we find the owner.

We ate Milly’s delicious home cooking for dinner,  took a bath (in another blog I will explain how we bath), then went to bed for some much needed rest to kick it again tomorrow!







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