(Posted by Laurence)
It’s been longer than usual since our last blog post, and as most readers will know that’s because we were back in the UK for a couple of months over Christmas to have our first baby. We are now back in Kampala, (three of us!), and I am back to work on the construction project at Cherish Uganda. I handed over temporary control of the project to a colleague while I was away, and since I mused about the uncertainty of the project three months ago there has been huge progress…
Progress: foundations to walls
When I left in December we had tentatively started digging foundations while waiting for a construction permit, and on my return I found full-height walls in most places!
This is particularly satisfying for me, as last year I oversaw the building of the foundations and walls for three buildings at the Amazima School, but left the project before completion; here at Cherish Uganda I will be seeing the second half of this project through to the final coat of paint… I hope!
Cherish Uganda: changing the story of HIV/AIDS
Cherish Uganda are a long-time partner of EMI, and EMI has previously designed and built homes for their boarding pupils and a medical clinic. We are working on the same site now (between Kampala and Entebbe), where Cherish Uganda run a primary school that focuses on creating a future for HIV positive children through education, medical treatment and awareness campaigns. Coming from the UK it’s easy to think that thse days HIV is a manageable condition that doesn’t necessarily have to limit a person’s future, and in fact the NHS says that “If you manage your condition properly by taking your medication correctly and avoiding illness, you should be able to live a near-normal life.” In Uganda this is not the case, and not just because of access to treatment: there is still a huge stigma against HIV positive individuals, and this means their opportunities in life are often severely limited. For a quick insight into the work of Cherish you really must watch this ten minute video, and if you want to know more you can also explore their website.
The Community Learning Centre
Our current project is to build a Community Learning Centre (CLC), which will contain staff offices, classrooms and an assembly hall. The vision is for the building to be used not only by the school children but also by the community surrounding the site for adult education. Alongside the CLC we are building a new kitchen that will serve the primary school, and in total the two buildings cover about 900 square metres; this feels very manageable after managing three decent sized buildings at the Amazima School.
The long term vision for Cherish Uganda
Meanwhile the EMI Uganda design team is busy developing a new masterplan for Cherish Uganda. The secondary school that had been planned for construction in Rakai (south-west Uganda) will now be built here between Kampala and Entebbe, and a recently announced government road-widening project will require a number of buildings to be demolished and replaced or rebuilt; sadly this includes the medical clinic built by EMI just a few years ago, and so our design team are coming up with imaginative ways to demolish and rebuild half the clinic with minimal disruption to the essential services it provides.