Christmas Newsletter #1, 2005

Ann and I send you our best wishes for this upcoming Christmas Season and New Year of 2006. Once again, we are away from our family and friends at a time when families usually come together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. May He continue to be the reason for the season?

Departure from Canada

We left our home in Gilbert Plains in the good hands of Karen Tanasychuk who is house-sitting for us. Karen is nursing at the Dauphin Hospital and tells us that she is enjoying living in our house. She says through email that they recently received about 15 cm. of snow in that area of Manitoba and that the snow is quite beautiful. We are also very grateful for the kindnesses shown by the people of Gilbert Plains before we left and for their most generous donations to our project in Uganda. The support shown by the town has been very encouraging showing us that we are not walking alone with this venture.

Our last newsletter was sent out shortly before our departure from Winnipeg, Canada on September 26th for the United Kingdom where we spent three weeks. The last week in Canada was a special week spent with family and friends saying our goodbyes. During our stopover in the UK we were given the most wonderful hospitality by relatives and friends everywhere we went. During this time we spent one week southwest of Glasgow, Scotland near the sea where we were able to share about our project at several churches where we were given a warm welcome. Many new contacts were made in the UK during our travels.

Arrival in Uganda On October 17th we arrived at Entebbe International Airport where we were welcomed by 35 Ugandan friends. It was quite overwhelming to see these friends once more after our eighteen months absence from Uganda. The bus ride back to Masaka from Kampala was most enjoyable with a great amount of joyous singing. We were hosted for two weeks by friends from England who took us under their wings while we attempted to readjust to life in Uganda. This was another oasis for us during our travels. However, we were able to find ourselves a small, two room apartment on ground level in Masaka. It is in an excellent location for us to be able to walk into town in about fifteen minutes or to catch a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) nearby. A security guard is kept posted outside our building each night.

We arrived in Uganda at the beginning of the rainy season which should last for about three months. This is also the grasshopper season. It is quite interesting in the evenings after it gets dark at 7 pm to see in several areas of this city of Masaka where people have placed bright lights mounted at the top of a piece of iron sheet which is set into a large barrel. The lights attract the grasshoppers which hit the sheets and fall into the barrels. Young children are then employed to pick off the wings and legs of the grasshoppers to prepare for frying. I tried a small dish of fried grasshoppers last week, but Ann refuses to even look at them. I find them quite tasty!

Along with this rainy season comes the usual heavier season of malaria. Malaria remains the number one killer disease in Uganda and consumes 10% or $34m of the Ministry of Health’s annual budget for drugs and services. A recent report said that Malaria kills 400 Ugandans daily, most of whom are children aged below five as well as pregnant women. The big debate in Uganda is whether to use DDT to control malaria.

Eagles Wings Children’s Village

Walked the border of 70 acres at EWCV, Uganda

Walked the border of 70 acres at EWCV, Uganda

We were quite excited to once again to visit the site of the future Eagles Wings Children’s Village. The first day we went with our Ugandan friends, Rev. Christopher Muwonge and his wife Harriet. We ended up walking the entire perimeter of the 70 acres, most of the walk in pouring rain. We had waited 18 months to see this property which now is entitled to EWCV. The rain couldn’t stop our walk! We were quite soaked from head to toe, but the site is even more beautiful than we had remembered. You can see Lake Victoria in the distance from the top of the ridge.

Two weeks ago I spent each day at the site, traveling by public transport. We had hired local workers and prisoners to dig the entire boundary to prepare for fencing. Last week we had to visit our lawyer in Kampala over the disputes which had arisen with squatters on our land. The former landowners have been trying to negotiate and compensate these squatters. Some of them have become quite greedy wanting large amounts of money for a quarter of an acre, but we have decided to cut off their small property and accept a free acre of our choice from the former landowner. We need a connection to the roads nearby, so will accept an acre which makes connection to the road before some other squatters move in and block us out.

We have also been dealing with the nearby Lukaya’s town water office trying to get our application form approved to have the water line extended to our property so that we don’t have to drill a well (bore hole) which is much more expensive. We are still within the town’s limits. However, the extension will have to go through other people’s property and some of these people are wanting to be paid, not realizing that this will enhance the value of their property. Someday they might wish to tap into the line and would then have to come to us for permission. The town engineer and one of our Ugandan Board members for EWCV is going tomorrow to meet with some of these people to try to get them on our side. Each stage of this project is quite a challenge!

Fence posts on EWCV site, Uganda

Fence posts on EWCV site, Uganda

Tomorrow morning a truck should be delivering 580 treated fence posts for the boundary of the 70 acres. We have to move as quickly as possible to complete the fencing as local people have cut down some of the mango trees on the lower areas of our property and are making charcoal with this wood. Also, some people have planted crops on this land. We have told them that they will be allowed to harvest their crops, but that there will be no further planting from them on our land.

Later this week, I will be meeting our engineer friend from Kampala in Lukaya to visit the property of EWCV. We will be moving on the upper slope to map out the exact location of our first huts and buildings for our first family unit of 24 children and care providers. We are also planning for our own house to be built nearby the first children’s family unit so that we can oversee the progress at the site. Until we have our own place, we will continue to live in Masaka in our apartment. We would like to see some construction of the children’s buildings start soon.

Allan Kisajje first day on the job as a social worker at EWCV, Uganda

Allan Kisajje first day on the job as a social worker at EWCV, Uganda

On December 1st, we will be having our young friend, Allan Kasage, start working for EWCV as our social worker. Allan took the training program several years ago at Kasana New Hope children’s home for “Caring for Orphaned Children”. More recently he has been working with the Danish Uganda Child Care team gaining valuable experience in the field. He will begin working around the Lukaya area doing a feasibility study for us looking for the first 24 young children we will take into our care. Our friend, Kenneth, Masaka Coordinator from Compassion Uganda, has offered to assist Allan with meeting some key people who will know the plight of the orphaned children in the local area of our project.

Visit to Kampala

Last week we spent three days in the capital city of Kampala which is about two hours drive north of Masaka. We hired a car for this trip as we had so many places to go to in the big city of nearly 2 million people. This was my first time driving in Kampala. What an experience! I wouldn’t have had the nerve to drive there if it weren’t for having our friend, Christopher, along with us. It is a pure miracle that we came back to Masaka without any dents in the car. The round-abouts are totally chaotic with so many mini-bus taxis challenging you to the right of way. Ugandans drive on the opposite side of the road from Canadians. Ann and I stayed with our Ugandan friends off Entebbe Road, with Rev. Godfrey Mawejje of St. Clements, Manitoba, who opened his Ugandan house to us. Another oasis for our travels! We were able to pick up a small electric/propane gas stove in Kampala, but are still looking for an electric/propane gas refrigerator. With the power going out nearly each evening, we need to rely on propane which will also be the case when we move out to live at the property of EWCV.

Kampala Riots

This past week has been a terrible time in Kampala for University student riots due to extremely high increase in fees. One first year student was killed and there was a great deal of damage done with cars being set on fire and businesses rampaged. Today we got reports of political unrest in Kampala with rioting due to some political campaigning going on. The leader of the opposition party was arrested and jailed. In March of 2006 the government of Uganda will be holding their elections so it should prove to be interesting. Our Canadian neighbor came home this evening by bus from Kampala saying that she experienced some of the tear gas which the police were using in downtown Kampala to try and control the rioting.

First Canadian Visitor In the beginning of January 2006, our friend from back home, Dale Myhre, of rural Dauphin, MB, will be arriving at Entebbe International Airport in Uganda. Dale is a member of the Canadian Board for Eagles Wings Children’s Village Inc. and an elder of Parkside Gospel Church, our home church. We are quite excited for Dale’s arrival so that he can see the site of EWCV and whatever progress we have been able to make. He will stay with us until January 31st. Unfortunately, Dale will arrive during the dry season and will miss having a feed of grasshoppers. He can look forward to the ideal climate of Uganda with daily temperatures ranging between 70 to 80 degrees F. indoors compared to the cold winter temperatures of the prairies back in Canada. He can enjoy the 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night each day here at the equator.

Thank You

We thank those of you who have been praying for Eagles Wings Children’s Village as well as praying for our well being. It is only through prayer that our project will move forward past the many obstacles which we encounter. We also thank and appreciate those of you who have made donations to EWCV and those who are committing this coming year to making a monthly donation for sponsorship of a child or a child care worker such as a cook, teacher, social worker, acting parents, nurse, or farm manager. May God bless you abundantly for walking with us.

Operations of Eagles Wings Children’s Village Incorporated

Eagles Wings Children’s Village is incorporated in Canada as well as in Uganda. There is a Board of Directors for each country as well as a lawyer in each country representing EWCV. The auditing of the Canadian books will take place in Dauphin, MB. at the end of this year. Ann is taking care of the bookkeeping here in Uganda for expenditures. Ann and I are working as volunteers and are not paid a salary. We praise God for the pension He has provided for us to live on here in Uganda. Our lawyer, Scott Johnson, in Dauphin, MB, as well as our friend, Pat Bates, in the Winnipeg head office, both offer their services for EWCV voluntarily. All the Board members in both countries participate voluntarily. Both of my sisters Vicki and Gloria are doing our post office mailing for us voluntarily. We are indeed thankful for this kind of support and for the encouragement they all provide. We are not alone!

Parkside Gospel Church in Dauphin, MB, continues to provide income tax receipts for Canadians who make a request. We are thankful to Dean Durston whose voluntarily efforts provide all the donors receipts on behalf of EWCV. We keep waiting for our Charitable Organization number to be approved from Ottawa; possibly any day now we are told. When that happens, the head Canadian office in Winnipeg for EWCV will take over issuing receipts. If anyone in Europe or United Kingdom wishes to make a donation, please contact us and we can give you the information needed for direct bank transfers from banks near you to the account here in Masaka for EWCV.

Contact Information:

Our mailing address in Uganda is:

Bill & Ann Peckham, P.O. Box 842, Masaka, Uganda

Mobile Phone number: 256-078-759743

Email Address: bapeckham@nullieazy.com

Donor Information:

For donors wishing an income tax receipt mail to: Parkside Gospel Church, Attn. Dean Durston, Treasurer, R.R. 4; Comp 32, Dauphin, MB, Canada, R7N 2T7. ***Earmark the cheque for “Eagles Wings Children’s Village” and make the cheque payable to “Parkside Gospel Church”.

For churches which issue your own income tax receipts or for individuals who don’t need an income tax receipt, you can mail your cheque directly in Canada and USA to the Winnipeg office for EWCV:

Eagles Wings Children’s Village Inc., 61 St. Vital Road, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R2M 1Z4

Make your cheque payable “Eagles Wings Children’s Village”.

We have had several invitations for Christmas. Friends in rural Kako where we used to live have invited us to celebrate Christmas Day with them and their three year old twin girls who were born on Christmas Day just like Ann. We will celebrate the birth of Jesus and then the birth of these three ladies.

Ann and I wish you many blessings during the upcoming Christmas Season and New Year.

Yours in Christ,

Bill & Ann