Construction gets underway.
April 26, 2008
The desperate circumstances of life in Uganda included nearly two million orphans in a country where twenty years ago two-thirds of the population carried the AIDS virus.
In the spring of 2005 Chet Marshall, Putnam's own business consultant, author and motivational speaker, came to offer much-needed classes on economic survival and leadership skills.
Near Entebbe, his travels in the African country brought him to the Divine Secondary School, a Christian orphanage for boys and girls from 13 to 23 years of age.
The school was without running water and electricity. Food was prepared over a fire pit. Students attended classes sitting three to a desk and often in the floor.
Marshall paid for books and desks from his own pocket, and brought the stories of poverty and tragedy back to Putnam Rotarians.
Marshall challenged the local club to match his own gifts to the Divine Secondary School, and several projects were undertaken at that time to extend aid and assistance to the orphanage.
Among these efforts was the "Uganda chicken house," an imaginative double-barreled plan to combine food, funding and living quarters for the school children there -- all in a single program.
A chicken house would provide shelter for baby chicks. When the mature chickens were ready for food and sale, the chicken house would be converted into living quarters for students.
A grant of $5,000 in April 2007 supported the building of a shelter, followed by the purchase of 1,000 vaccinated baby chicks and their food for three months. $4,000 of the amount came from Putnam Rotary; $1,000 was donated by Poca Baptist Church.
Jeff Kayongo, a member of the Entebbe Rotary Club and staff director for Smile Uganda, reported on progress at the Divine Secondary School as the project began to take shape.
By December the maturing chicks had been moved to an outside pen on a raised platform, and the chicken house was converted to a dormitory for twenty new students.
By February, Jeff Kayongo reported that the chickens were producing over 600 eggs per day -- food for orphans and extra funding from sales.
Because of a bit of assistance from Putnam County in West Virginia, the circumstances at the Divine Secondary School are not as desperate as they once were. And the children have learned important life lessons in poultry management and marketing.