Written by Todd Scott
This morning I was greeted by a group of spirited Pipeliner's all wearing kitenge, a type of colorful African clothing. See blog from June 5th for more details on the selection of our attire and the involuntary fashion show that followed ( #white men can’t dance!) Today marks an important date in Pipeline’s history, the groundbreaking of the Lonyi Village, our future humanitarian lodging and CTE training facility! This momentous day signals the start of construction and many more days of hard work and celebrations to come.
Our day started off with the typical hard boiled eggs and hot dog buns before we loaded up on the bus to head to our groundbreaking ceremony. As you arrive at the site, the first thing that strikes you is the picturesque landscape. It looks like a photo pulled straight out of Condè Nast Travel. If visiting the site isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be with the lush green grass that looks like artificial turf and mahogany trees and teak trees perfectly placed around the site to provide shade for you as you munch down a delicious mango from the mango tree located in the center of the campus. It is the perfect backdrop for the weary traveler to kick up their feet and soak in all Uganda has to offer!
As we walked onto the site the sounds of upbeat music were playing in the background with people scurrying across the site to complete the finishing touches. Dancers were putting on their elaborate dresses and musicians’ drums were heating in the sun to help loosen their batters to prepare for the celebration that was soon to follow. Ugandan flag colors - black, yellow and red were subtly draped on the canopy columns with beautiful flower accents.
We began the ceremony with introductions of dignitaries in attendance, partners of Pipeline, and the local community that came out to join. Then came the list of speakers that politely kept their speeches short, but they all had the same resounding message: this campus is being built to empower and improve the lives of the local community, and for this project to be successful it will take all of us to do what we can to support this project whether you are a team member of Pipeline, local leader, or members of the community. As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to build a community around them that provides opportunities for a brighter future. We all share in the work and will all share in the reward. As Jamie said it best, we all need to persevere and have a little faith. With the sounds of applause, it was reassurance that the community too was behind our project.
Finally, it ended with a lunch of local African cuisine. I think one of the team's favorite moments today was watching a group of children that had slowly filtered in from the surrounding area, sitting quietly in the background watching the ceremony intently. When it was time to eat they patiently lined up to wash their hands and be served a plate of food and piece of sweet desert. It was icing on the cake for an amazing day!