Buguruka Orphan & Community Economic Development, Inc.

An exploration by Kathy Mertens

December 18, 2001

This is a project that is personal for me. You see it was founded by a priest that used to be at my parish, Our Lady of Lourdes in Gales Ferry. Father Justinian Rweyemamu is a priest from Tanzania, Africa. Father Justinianís home village of Buguruka is very poor. There is very little food, and most days the people of the village go in search of food but return with little or nothing. The conditions are horrid in this small village near Lake Victoria. Father Justinian has been fortunate to be able to be in America as a priest and to experience the great abundance that the American society provides. Father Justinian decided he would do something to help the people of his village back in Tanzania.

Figure 1 Buguruka is a village in Tanzania

He has founded the Buguruka Orphan & Community Economic Development, Inc. or BOCED. This organization provides meals for the children via a breakfast program at the local school. The organization also provides knowledge of good health practices and proper nutrition for women. It also helps develop business opportunities for women to encourage economic empowerment. Now I know you are wondering where the link is to environmental issues. There are many links.

Figure 2 Temporary dispensary

The lack of food in this area and other areas in Africa are directly related to climatic conditions, lack of economic development and lack of sufficient water supplies to name a few. Then there is the rampant spread of disease such as HIV/Aids as well as malaria and cholera. These diseases take a heavy toll on the young and old a like, depleting human resources.

Two of the things the BOCED program are currently addressing are bringing clean water to the village and to the BOCED Center. The water in nearby Lake Victoria is dirty and contains deadly bacteria so must be boiled before using. To boil the water wood is needed for fires, but most of the trees have been cut down for firewood already so wood is scarce. There is hope for a fresh water supply to be tapped into in this area, as there are natural springs in some of the areas that could be tapped through gravity. These springs could provide clean water for both the villagers and the BOCED center. Initial estimates have been done and the next stage involves a drawing and printing of the project plans. This like all other programs requires additional funding.

Figure 3 Clearing road to medical dispensary

There is also an electrical power program that they are trying to get started to bring electricity to the villages so they could boil the water from Lake Victoria without cutting down more trees as well as use the water for sanitation. One plan is to bring power lined from the main lines to the BOCED Center. Or to use solar energy and wind power. The BOCED Center is currently using solar energy, but it only provides minimal power.

Figure 4 Building of permanent dispensary

Many of our local businesses are involved in the BOCED projects. UCONNís College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and Department of Nutritional Sciences has sent representatives to the Buguruka area to access the situation and to determine how they could best help. St. Bernardís Church in Uncasville and Our Lady of Lourdes in Gales Ferry have made monetary donations. Pfizer and the Catholic Medical Board as well as St. Francis Hospital have provided medical supplies and card for the poor in the villages. The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and the State Department of Economic Development have also supported the BOCED Project. Even local school children have made crafts to sell at local holiday bazaars to raise money to send to Father Justinianís BOCED organization.

Figure 5 Supplies gathered by Our Lady of Lourdes Parish

If you would like further information on the programs that BOCED supports or was you can help then contact BOCED offices in New London at (860) 870-7084 or check out their website at www.bocedchildren.org.

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Submitted to and posted by Anthony Benoit
January 3, 2002