Bryan Lupton

Bryan Lupton (Survivor Corps – Gulu Disabled Persons Union – GDPU): Bryan received his B.A. in English Literature from Colorado State University. While at school, he volunteered at the Northern Colorado AIDS Project, a local NGO that provides free health and social services to clients across Northern Colorado. From 2006 to 2008 Bryan served as a US Peace Corps volunteer in Zambia where he coordinated HIV/AIDS prevention training programs in rural areas. At the time of his fellowship, Bryan was pursuing a dual Master’s degree in International Affairs and Public Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. His research focused on International Security and Diplomacy. After his fellowship, Bryan wrote: “I have learned a lot about the history and violent conflicts of Central Africa and it has made me more considerate of these issues when thinking about the region.”

We Five Mechanics: Or, The Rules of Electricity Conductivity Don’t Apply in Africa

12 Jun

I woke up yesterday feeling pretty good because I had an interview scheduled with Sister Margaret Aceng, the Director and Founder of Caritas Counseling Center. She’s an interesting woman and I was sure that she was going to blow my mind with her incredible life story. 

I got to Caritas and asked Sister Margaret her how she was, she said “I request that we do not do this interview now. I am tired.”

Fair enough. There’s nothing worse than talking to someone who doesn’t feel like talking so I agreed to reschedule. We changed it to the next day and I left.
I ended up having to come back later to Caritas later that day to help them apply for a grant to fund a peer support training. I was waiting for a driver to take me back to work at another organization when Sister Margaret came out.

The driver got back at the same time that Sister Margaret was leaving, but Sister Margaret’s car wouldn’t start. The Caritas driver, Martin, was the one who “knew how to fix cars” and immediately took it upon himself to get it running. 

First though, for some reason that wasn’t clear to me, we physically pushed Sister Margaret’s car all over the parking area. There were five of us: myself, Simon, Martin, some dude, and some other dude. We pushed the car up a hill, and Martin tried to start it while it was rolling backwards down the hill. Forwards up the hill, backwards down. Forwards up the hill, backwards down the hill. Why was I the only one who wasn’t surprised when it still wouldn’t start after rolling backwards down a hill 4 times? 

Martin was now certain that the battery was the problem. What followed was the most incredible “car fixing” that I have ever seen. Martin got the car running with a piece of sandpaper, a machete, a wrench, a steak knife, and a piece of wire he literally found on the ground. He used the sandpaper to clean off the battery connection areas, but it wasn’t enough. He picked up about 3 feet of electrical wire off of the ground and used the machete to chop it in half. He got a steak knife out of the kitchen to strip the wire. He went over to his truck and used a wrench to remove his own battery. He walked it over, and connected the wire from one battery to the next and, with his BARE HANDS, held the connection in place while trying to jump Sister Margaret’s car. 

Now, this is where I started backing away. I didn’t want to see anyone electrocuted and I also didn’t want to get myself blown up either. 

Martin was fearless. That connection didn’t work so he took out Sister Margaret’s battery and connected his truck battery directly to the Toyota Corona system. His battery was too big to fit in the battery compartment, so some other dude held it in place with his bare hands while Martin held the wire connections in place. I though for sure that the current was going to go through the battery, into Martin, into some other dude, and explode and kill all of the other bystanders and I would be left to explain why I had 5 dead Ugandans lying at my feet.

The car started. I couldn’t believe it. Apparently, Martin can indeed “fix cars.” Incidentally, he also has nothing to fear from the forces of electricity. Amazing. 
Basically, I spent yesterday getting canceled on by Sister Margaret, running across town to help her organization apply for a grant anyways, pushing her car around the parking lot, and then risking my life to get it fixed. Oh, and before she left she canceled the interview for tomorrow, too. She’s lucky she’s a nun.

Posted By Bryan Lupton

Posted Jun 12th, 2009


  • Marina

    June 16, 2009


    I believe Mendi has a similar story about a family trying to jump start their car by pushing it uphill. Ask her about it sometime, I believe there is visual evidence.

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