A Visit From A KKSY Board Member

Joel Beattie, one of our board members, visited KKSY in October, here is his report on his visit.

Day 1:
I just wanted to give a report on my successful trip to KKSY.  My son Chase and I arrived the afternoon of October 2nd, Simchat Torah.  We got settled in at the Lucia Villas.  We were then greeted by Tarphon, Elisha, and a few other men.  After introductions and getting caught up, we went to Tarphon’s home and received a tour while meeting his daughter.  At that time, we headed over to Joy Secondary School.  We were greeted by the headmaster and KKSY student teacher.  There were approximately 20 mid-to-older teenagers and we were given time to speak.  Traveling with me (my driver) was a good friend Moses Mukisa, who is also an agronomist and was also able to speak to the students and was able to encourage them in their studies as he grew up in the bush with no electricity or running water, an hour out of Masaka.  He was able to be sponsored, graduated from a major university in Kampala with a degree in agriculture, then being sponsored by the Ministry of Agriculture of Uganda to live on a kibbutz for a year in Ashkelon and Ashdod, Israel.  After spending time with the students, we presented a soccer ball to the teacher.  After the school, we made a site visit to the property, which is 20 to 25 minutes from downtown Mbale.  When we arrived, there were additional men there and I was given an opportunity to speak to the men, approximately 12 to 15.  We were able to go out to dinner and had a delightful African meal with the small group of men.
Day 2:
Martin the agronomist from Uganda arrived and was going to be having a class and instruction time in the morning, and I thought it would be best if we were not around and causing a distraction as it was his first day on site, so we decided to drive up to Sipi Falls, which is a couple hours away.  We arrived back at the KKSY property and listened in on Martin’s afternoon session.  He mostly discussed proper spacing of vegetation, bell peppers, and specifics, along with being able to grid out, measure, and maximize your property.  That evening we were able to go out to dinner with the same small group of men.  I had asked Tarphon if all of the members would be able to come together at the temporary synagogue on the property the following morning and we agreed at 8:00 through 8:30 AM after morning prayer and before Martin started in on his second day of sessions.  Tarphon agreed.
Day 3:
We were able to arrive early on site and participate in morning prayer.  Then I was to speak to the entire community in attendance, approximately 50-60 men, women, and children.  I was able to take 10-15 minutes to talk to them, encourage them concerning new beginnings, second chances, taking advantage of now, also that they a representation of the Sephardic Orthodox Jewish community in Uganda and that not only are their immediate neighbors watching them, but also the global community.  Before coming to Uganda, I was able to procure a few items that ended up filling up three suitcases.  I was able to present these things at this time, such as soccer balls, cleats, shin guards, first aid kits, calcium pills for “the child”, some mens apparel, quite a bit of women’s dresses, skirts, and pants, an extreme amount of American candy.  Last but not least, two banners that I had printed up with a photo that I took on the shores of Caesarea during the sunset.  It was a great time had by all.  After the meeting was over, we headed out.
Day 4:
Chase, Moses, and myself were able to go to Entebbe and meet Ekaterina for an hour over a cup of coffee.  We were able to discuss how the visit went and hopes and expectations of the community over the next year and into the future.
Takeaways: I felt like our visit was extremely successful to be able to have a KKSY board member visit the community. If you have not visited the community, I strongly recommend that you find a way to do so.  Everyone that I met was extremely positive and upbeat.  I’m hoping to make a return visit in 2020.