Missionaries of Africa
Fr George Okwii MAfr,-Director Sharing Youth Centre, Kampala
Sharing Youth Centre Fire
Yesterday at about midday we were struck by a tragedy here in Sharing. Our hall, after undergoing a major facelift, caught fire. The origin of this fire is not yet very clear as investigations are still ongoing. However, all the evidence points to an electrical fault. For over two months now, we have been experiencing enormous power surges. On two occasions, a lot of our machines, computers, photocopiers, washing machines, generator and many other items have been affected. In fact, at one point, we were receiving a spike of 440 volts instead of the normal 220-240 volts. When we raised the matter with 'UMEME', the local power provider, we were told it was a transformer problem. This was eventually corrected.
Yesterday, however, instead of the spike, the power was just flickering. Could this have caused a short circuit in the room where the staff member was residing? This occurred at the time when we were all busy working or in class. Personally, I was teaching our students when I was informed that the hall was on fire. We rushed out to save what we could. Meanwhile, we tried to summon the Fire Brigade. The first [private] company could not come to our rescue. Since the Police & Fire Department is a kilometre or so from Sharing Youth Centre, we called them and they quickly responded. However, the first vehicle had no water, so it took some time, although they managed to put out the fire. Meanwhile, the staff, students and the community managed to bring out all that could be removed from the hall. In fact, for this, the combined co-operation of staff, students and community was amazing. Not a single item was missing! Later, the children from the two nearby primary schools, together with ours, came and put everything back in its place.
We are now assessing the damage in view of repairs. Our first feeling is that it will cost us millions. This is a major setback, especially at a time when we were beginning to feel optimistic that the tide was now turning. Things were beginning to look better. We were even planning ahead, although the first and second power surges cost us millions in damages. The hall was starting to pay back its loans. Our next plan was to install good toilets.
As Sharing community, however, we shall not give up. We intend to forge ahead. It is not the first time Sharing has gone through a difficult time. We shall overcome. Pray for us that especially we shall rise with Christ at Easter.
Fr George Okwii MAfr, Director -Sharing Youth Centre, Kampala
See also Sharing Youth Centre