The Doctor decided he wanted the container next to other two. The driver struggled but finally got it in place. With the doors opened it was a nice unit, clean and ready to use. The driver immediately left to go back to Gulu.
The first thing to unload was the trailer behind the truck. Everything had been unstrapped while the container was being positioned. There were 10 of the miniature tables for the kids to kneel at. They were put in a pile for the time being. At a total of 80 feet, a lot of kids could be fed at one time by using both sides.
Then there were two wash tubs to wash things in and two large propane self-standing burners with at least 5 gallon cooking pots. There were 4 large racks that had to be assembled. Then there were 10 new 5 gallon buckets, a box that contained two different sized ladles and at least a dozen of the old crank style can-openers.
Andy moved the trailer out of the way and unhooked it; there were at least 6 pallets of something still on it.
With the truck backed as close to the container as possible, we began the tedious task of unloading all those cans. With six cans to the case, 50 pounds a case, a person could get tired out quickly.
We rotated people out of the line for rest and to continue to have someone doing guard duty.
As soon as a pallet was emptied and set aside it was dragged off to become part of another lean-to or fire wood; soon there was a line of haggard women waiting for the pallets.
I mentally kicked myself in the ass for not realizing that everything had a use in a place like this. The old saying was “Ones man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” I was even more upset because we had a stack of 50 or so at the embassy that were going to end up in the trash. We could have easily loaded them on the trailer.
With the truck unloaded, the container was nearly half full; we did not stack them to the ceiling for fear of someone getting hurt trying to get a case down from over their head. Then all the cases of crackers were stacked inside.
Andy asked if they should have picked up some rat and mice poison.
“No, I am sure that if any of those are here, they get eaten and I would be afraid a child would get into the poison,” I replied.
With the truck moved the men assembled the racks and put them against one side. Then they began to open the crates of disposable bowls and spoons I had asked for and stacked them on the racks.
I was surprised when I saw them; they were top of the line disposable plastic with the kind of quality that could be washed and reused multiple times before it would have to be trashed. The girls had pulled another slight of hand improvement on what I had asked for.
With the truck out of the way, Andy and the guys began setting up an eating area for the kids. Andy and the guys had bought several those backyard fast-assemble party canopies; enough to cover the 40 feet of tables in two rows and a couple extra were set up. The two extra 8 foot plastic tables were set up with plastic chairs.
One of the men hooked the trailer back up and it was backed up the container again; they started opening the other crates. The crates were filled with gallon jugs of distilled water to add to the soup that went into the container. I could just imagine the uses for the empty jugs in this place.
All these things appearing explained why they had made so many trips around the city yesterday.
The big pots were washed and filled with soup and a gallon of water and then mixed with one of the ladles.
The last two crates were 50 pound propane tanks to fuel the burners; six tanks to the crate. I needed to talk to Andy about that one; just how were the people here going to get the tanks refilled?
The word was sent out that in half an hour there would be a meal served at the medical tent for all children. It wasn’t hard to get the word out; we had an audience the entire time we had been here.
No matter how poor and weak kids were, they were curious by nature and with trucks, men and all things going on, we had to be careful we did not step on them, they were so close.
I wondered where all the adults were today. The last time we were here there were plenty wandering around, looking; today there were not near as many. I hoped that they had not been lured into trying to get back to their villages.
Dr. Palermo had finished his doctor duties for a while and joined us.
“The word is out that they are catching a few fish in the nearby lake the last two days, but no one has returned with any fish. The lake is fished out and needs time to recover but the people are desperate; worst thing is the lake is polluted. The lake is fed from the Sudan and the river is used a dump.”
“They use the centuries old technique of standing in water and casting a net and pulling it back; so in a few days we will be dealing with unusual rashes, infections and such,” the doc said.
We ambassadors filled the doctor in on everything I had brought. The doctor suggested that all the kids get only the small ladle of soup and just 4 crackers; “Too much of a good thing could upset their intestines; they had been existing on a corn meal mush for a very long time. Corn meal mush gets eaten with the fingers,” he replied.
I explained to the doctor that I was only going to be in Kampala for three and a half more weeks, and that I would stay in contact with Ambassadors Morrison and Fauntroy and would try to continue getting them food and meds, but I could not promise him how much, for how long or how often.
My men interrupted the conversation by bring several buckets of water and sitting them in a row, along with a cardboard box on which they put several bars of soap on. Andy pushed several flowerpot hangers into the ground and hung embassy towels on them.
It was all I could do not to laugh; all one had to do was to look around at all the kids to know that they had no idea what a bar of soap and water was for, let alone how to use them.
“Soup’s hot and ready to be served,” one of the guys said.
“Start putting the bowls out with one small ladle of soup and four crackers with a spoon as the Doc ordered and I will try to get the hand washing started,” I said. As one pot was emptied it would be refilled until the estimated 2000 thousand children had been fed.
I pulled my sleeves to my elbow and stuck my hands in the cold water; then reached for the bar of soap and lathered my hands up making sure to emphasize good cleaning of the fingers at the first bucket. Then I rinsed them in the second bucket and again in the third before drying them.
Like all kids, they only needed to be shown once before there were several sets of hands in the buckets at a time and the drying going on. As the hands were dried I walked the first kids to the end of the little tables, got down on my knees at the end of the table so I could be seen by all and waited until the table was full of kids to see what was next.
I picked up the spoon and demonstrated the right way to hold it then dipped it in my soup and slowly put it in my mouth; “Umm good,” I said. One of my men walked the table helping those that need a little guidance with spoon positioning and aiming.
As the other tables filled Ambassador Fauntroy and Morrison did the same thing. Even the doctor and staff had a table to help and we continued until all the kids had gotten something to eat.
Mothers with small or weak kids who needed assistance got a large ladle and 8 crackers to share.
The men started making ready to leave for Kampala while Ambassador Fauntroy, Morrison and I gave an impromptu news conference for the half dozen reporters who had gathered asking questions; they had been filming at various times all day.
Ambassador Fauntroy insisted that I speak first.
“First I have to give thanks to a lot of people who made today’s meal for the kids come together. Kamgells foods for the soups and Sysco restaurant supply for the dishes and spoons along with Potomac Pharmaceuticals for the donation of medicines for the Doctors without Borders. We will get Dr. Palermo to say a few words in a minute.”
“Lorrie at JBG Aviation Division for air services to get the food here for today: Marcy, Jenny, Vicky, Ching Lee for putting all the pieces together and finally, all the people at JBG who donated their time and money to help with this worthy cause,” I said.
Then I added, “The flight that brought the items over was converted to an Air Medevac to carry the wounded from the embassy attack back to the states for further treatment.”
“I also need to thank the men and ladies of JBG Security Kampala for putting all the things together yesterday and this morning to make this happen. Yesterday they built the little tables, secured all cookers and pots and then organized everything.”
“Finally I want to thank Ambassador Morrison and Ambassador Fauntroy for coordinating everything with Dr. Palermo and the Doctors Without Borders here at Nimule and inviting me and my people to participate in this noble cause and their tireless determination to see things through,” I finished my speech.
After Ambassadors Morrison and Fauntroy spoke I sent the truck and Suburban’s on their way back to Kampala; they had a long ride ahead. Two hours later the ambassadors and I left for Kampala in the chopper.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.