Link International in Uganda – 2. The Maternity Project

Note: This is one of a series of blogs I’m posting about my recent trip to Africa for a month’s charity photography for Link International, documenting their projects around Uganda

Another of the Link Projects is a short walk down the road from the Maya school

And the Maya kids did enjoy following us around and having their picture taken.

When they saw their likeness on my camera LCD they’d loose their minds, pulling, tugging & for some strange reason, licking, my camera!

I like this little story teller.

This is the 2nd link project we visited, the Maternity unit they’re building in the area.

Basically, in July 2007, a 17 year old St David’s pupil called Christina came back from a similar Uganda visit with a huge compassion for mums and babies and their maternity care (1:8 mothers die in child birth in some parts of Africa).  She revisited Uganda in 2008 and selected a site for a maternity clinic, bought land and with the help of 2 other past pupils of St David’s College, now studying architecture, drew up plans and began building a maternity unit.  The challenge is to raise £35k to build this maternity clinic and have it operational by December 2009.

It all appears to be coming along nicely.

In much of Africa, you see mud bricks being kilned and baked by the roadside.  These bricks cost, so the link team invested in sustainable brick making machines to create mud, sand & cement mix bricks that don’t require kilning for their building projects.  They also pay the local community to help make them.

The girls with the first brick we made

They’re also rather cunning as they are grooved to fit together without cement.  Cheeky

Here are the chaps digging the mud to mix with sand & cement.

I thought it rude not to give it a pop.

Another part of the maternity project will be to tap a local spring, about 500m down a steep, windy path from the village & maternity centre and pipe water up to a tank for the community & villagers to use…

…because at the moment the locals have to collect their water in gerry cans…

and push them up to their homes.

This special little girl was without a doubt the sweetest girl I met.  Super mild mannered & wanted to hold my hand as we walked.  It’s interesting, as a photographer it’s quite detached being behind a camera to document the goings on.  But when I found a little hand reaching up to hold mine, I felt connected somehow.

We strolled around rambling in our own languages.  She’d arbitrarily reply to my questions with “yes”, “no” or “Yesno”, covering all bases really.

Those not bricking themselves, helped with the water project, digging a trench for the pipes.

The ground was less than forgiving and our team managed to make a good 100m trench before their time was out.

Here’s John, one of the Kenya Drive dudes, the chap planning the water project & Sam in the background.

Those not interested in digging or bricking spent time playing games with the kids.

Paul & Darryl, all blistered up, after a good graft.

A past St David’s pupil has moved into pioneering nursing in UK and working with a number of Health Authorities and Nursing Schools as well as a Pharmaceutical Company.  He joined this trip to look into showing training institutions and medical businesses how they could ‘adopt’ a maternity/medical clinic project like this one as their own.  The Link team are essentially developing amall-scale, appropriate level technology, sustainable maternity/health care clinics, that could then be replicated rapidly in the poorest and most remote parts of Africa and radically improve basic health care and give babies and mums a greater chance of survival.  The benefits for these institutions is extensive, including community building humanitarian work and developing-world experience.

Pretty cool eh?

In another related story, Christina in a slum meeting with a kid Link were hoping to help and found a desperately poor grandmother living in squalor in a tiny one room shack with 5 children who’s parents had died.  She decided this wouldn’t do and has since, with the Link family raised enough money to build her and the kids this house by the Maternity centre.

Here’s Link’s adopted grandma, showing us her weaving skills too.  She rocks.

Tune in at 9am tomorrow (Wednesday) for some of my fave grabs caught passing through the streets of Uganda.

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Link Up:

Read more about Link International’s Uganda projects on their facebook page here.

Download all the web-ready images from my blog trip here.

If you’d like to donate to their fantastic causes, visit their site here.

Read the Link director Tim Hall’s blog here.