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Travel Diary – June 8, 2023

Written by Jeff Nollette

After a long night of thunderstorms and room shaking thunder (and dance music from next door) the team was greeted with quite a breakfast upgrade from the Moyo Multi-Purpose Hall. Instead of the usual hot dog buns and hard-boiled eggs, this morning’s breakfast included Ugandan breakfast burritos (rolex), donuts (sort of) and fresh mango from Jacob Lee’s farm. More details to follow on Mr. Lee and his African Farm, but suffice it to say he seems to know two things very well..mangos and the gospel.

After boarding the bus, our first stop was Moyo Polytechnic, a trade school with a huge variety of courses and skills trainings being offered. Led by Ellis Rugga Onzo, the Managing Director of this unique campus, offers courses in motor vehicle mechanics, carpentry, tailoring, hair dressing, welding, brick laying and potentially coming soon..bee hive production. We passed along sewing kits created by Stitches of Hope based in Fountain Hills, Arizona to help the tailoring program. Mr. Onzo is a retired accountant who saw the need to train and develop youth by providing them with a skill that allows them to prosper. He is doing great work and has an infectious proud smile when showing off his facility and truly has a passion to help the younger generations.

Next stop was a quick 30-minute drive along the mountainside to Kweyo. I am told that in the past this trip took at least an hour, but with road improvements it has been greatly reduced. The views and the landscape of this lush green mountainside village are breathtaking. Julie and Donna (two amazing, passionate, adventurous nurses) did their immediate care for newborns training at the health center while the rest of the team checked out the village ambulance recently donated by Pipeline. What seemed to me to be a seemingly small investment (approximately $6,500) is making a huge difference in the lives of these villagers. The team then headed down the hill for what was listed on our itinerary as solar light distribution (VERY UNDERSTATED!!). The van was greeted by hundreds of villagers dancing and singing as we entered the area setup for distribution. We were treated to speeches from village leadership thanking Pipeline for not only today’s solar lights but for the village ambulance and the overall partnership. Distribution of over 300 solar powered lights went very smoothly, and I was able to pretend to be busy while hanging out with my new buddy, Jonathan. Todd once again killed it on the runway/dance floor, and we were fortunate enough to leave with a goat who went very ‘willingly’ onto the village ambulance. For those keeping count at home we have been gifted 1 turkey and 1 goat and we are only halfway through the trip.

Next stop was Moyo General Hospital to tour the numerous projects including a new power supply solution for critical sections of the hospital, renovated staff housing, and two new incubators in the NICU. I have heard and overheard so many amazing stories about this facility and the hospital administrator, Bernard, it was truly an honor to visit. There is still much more to be done as the hospital was built in 1971 and almost nothing has been renovated in over 50 years. Kelly Davis and the stitches on his head can attest it might be time for some new windows!

Without a doubt the most impactful part of the visit to Moyo General Hospital was the dedication and grand opening of the Larry Nollette Memorial Workshop. My Dad was one of the greatest men I have ever known. Soft spoken and humble and willing to give whatever he could offer to whomever needed it. He worked at United Airlines for 40 years, but his true passion was being a handyman. He could fix or build anything and often without a trip to the hardware store. The plaque outside the entrance has a bible verse that reads “Behold, I make all things new.” This verse is so fitting for not only the skills my dad possessed, but also seeing the before and after pictures of this workshop. Thank you to the team on behalf of my entire family. Hearing the plans to not only supply the hospital with much needed furniture, patients with crutches, etc,.. but also the plan to use this workship as a potential revenue generator to allow the hospital to grow would far exceed expectation.

Another personal highlight was the donation of mobile workstation to Chris the lead NICU nurse. Again, I have heard so many incredible stories of Chris and his team in the NICU department saving countless babies lives due to their hard work and dedication. I have been fortunate enough to work with HP for 27+ years and help to ship hundreds of thousands of computers to customers globally. This was the most important and gratifying computer delivery I have ever been a part of. Thanks to my family at HP who provided this unit and supported me over the last year.

Every night before dinner we go around the table and mention our highlights for the day. I can honestly say my highlights today were lifetime highlights not just daily highlights. I write this in complete awe of my wife, Jamie, for starting this organization and how it has grown in the last 13 years. I am truly honored to be a small contributor and forever grateful for the folks that travel and support this organization. All that I can say is you have to come and see this in person, it will change your life.


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