Spencer Caldwell (Uganda)

Born in Arkansas, raised in North Louisiana as well as New Orleans, Spencer was always an energetic and adventurous person from the start. Spencer has had many outdoor adventures, including hiking through the trails in the Olympics outside of Seattle, and the Black Hills of South Dakota and traversing the United States in multiple cross country trips. Upon joining the US Navy in 1999, his worldly adventures only increased, with deployments to SE and SW Asia along with many many months spent out to sea enjoying an uninhibited view of the stars and the oceans. His venturing outdoors continued by taking on of snowboarding as a hobby to coincide with rugby. Since then he has snowboarded in 7 countries and played rugby in 8. Recently, Spencer graduated from George Mason University with a Masters Degree in Public Administration concentrating in Non-Profit Management at George Mason University. As Spencer's graduate school experience is reaching its final semester, the door opened up for humanitarian work and the ability to apply by learned skills and acquired knowledge to the world around him. Life is about the journey, much less about the destination.

Latrine Construction is Underway

27 Jun

As scheduled, Patrick and I, along with Ocheung Ivan, the intern, and Walter our driver, ventured back to Palaro Sub County to check on the progress of the latrine pit. In just two days after the planning meeting, the parents had managed to make more than a meter’’s depth before striking the water line and had paused there to discuss the next course of action. 

We arrived late in the afternoon due to morning repairs to our left rear axle on our company Landcruiser which had been subjected to multiple trips to Palaro on a less than desirable roadway. Due to the bumpy, pothole, and rut filled uneven road with ditches for shoulders, we pulled over twice to tighten the battery in place as it was coming lose due to the steady bouncing over the Mars-like terrain. A roadside motorcycle shop had the proper spanning wrench to tighten down the battery, and we continued to Abaka Primary School after two short delays.

Discussing the waterline and further digging

After surveying the water-logged latrine pit that the parents broke ground on that morning, Patrick explained that the progress was good for a mere half day’s time and that the water would be easily drained from the pit by the next day. Seems the ground slopes from west to east and water drains toward to this end of the school, and the encounter with the waterline was to be expected.

To ensure a proper understanding between all parties involved on the construction and management of the latrine, a small meeting between Patrick of GDPU, the head teacher, the school manager, the contractor, and myself was conducted to go over the MOU (Memorandum of Understanding).

MOU Meeting

The MOU is a basic contractual agreement between the contractor, the school, and GDPU, with me serving as a witness for The Advocacy Project. Dating the 26th of June through the expected completion date of August 14th, David Kinyera will construct a four stance, drainable latrine with a girl’s changing room, as requested in the previous meeting. A 1.5-meter-wide, 40-meter-long walkway will allow for easy access for those students using a wheelchair for mobility.  Handrails, ramps, and a hand washing water tank at the appropriate height for wheelchair users will satisfy the specifications desired by the school, the parents, GDPU, and AP. 

One of the crucial parts of the MOU is laying the responsibility of the water supply, daily monitoring of construction, and security of materials on Abaka school itself. They will also be responsible for conducting awareness workshops with parents, teachers, and the PTA to improve attitudes toward the inclusion of children with disabilities and a steady stream of support and monitoring to ensure their inclusion in the school and hopefully the community at large.

Lastly, there was an emphasis on open, honest, and frequent communication between the contractor, the school, and GDPU to avoid misunderstandings. Transparency and clarity were called upon to resolve any disputes on construction, materials, costs, or material handling, that would include the GDPU board, the contractor, and a senior staff member of the Abaka Primary School. All parties involved desire this project to proceed successfully without delay and within the given timeframe, and if the cooperation and communication is carried from the initial meeting through all stages of construction, The Abaka Primary School Latrine Project will be a success.

Posted By Spencer Caldwell (Uganda)

Posted Jun 27th, 2019


  • Abby Lahvis

    June 27, 2019


    Wow! Sounds like you’re moving along quickly. I’m glad you explained the MOU in detail because I think it is a very important aspect of your work.

  • Rachel Wright

    June 27, 2019


    It’s unfortunate to hear about your initial delay but I’m glad to hear everything is going smoothly with your MOU!

  • Emily

    July 3, 2019


    Your confidence is really encouraging. I love how organized you all are, and it’s definitely going to pay off in the long run!

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