Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Angola Visit Update

As previously announced, I was unable to make my planned trip to Angola to have a ground-breaking ceremony for the school in Waku Kungo. When I first scheduled my trip to Angola many months ago, the calendar looked clear for them. But in time, some unavoidable scheduling conflicts arose. The Angolans tried to work around the conflicts, but in the end, and very understandably, the key people needed to make my visit a success just weren't available. Not speaking Portuguese, no less Kimbundu, Umbundu, or Kicongo, Angola is not a place I could go and "wing it." So, no trip.

Our partners in Angola are still very interested in having me come to visit Waku Kungu when construction gets underway, or soon thereafter. We don't know the timing yet of the beginning of construction, but it should be fairly soon after we are able to send them the full $50,000. As I have mentioned before, they wisely want to wait until all the money is in hand before they begin construction, as this will significantly reduce construction costs.

As of today, the fund raising total is $43,237 (wahoo!), including the $10,000 from the Tuthill Fund of the Illinois Conference. A few weeks ago, we sent the first $20,000 to Waku Kungo, and today we sent another $10,000. The Tuthill money should be sent after final approval is given around the middle of November. So, by the end of November, we will have sent $40,000. If we can bring in the final $6,763 in the next few weeks, we should be able to have the full $50,000 for them by Christmas!

A great deal needs to be worked out, including finances and finding the best time for the Angolans and for my schedule next year, but hopefully sometime in the first half of 2010 I'll be able to go and celebrate with the folks of Waku Kungo at some point in the construction process.

So, although the swimming part of my adventure is over, the task is not yet fully complete - and I'll keep working on it, one "stroke" at a time, until that school becomes a reality, serving hundreds of children and helping them face the challenges of their lives, through education!

Thanks for your support!

P.S. If by some strange occurrence you have not yet donated to the school project in Angola, by all means, I encourage you to do so! Just click here, and contribute to "Mike's English Channel Swim" - 100% of donations go to build the school (not pay for my swim!). You can also write a check to "SwimMikeSwim," and send it to Second Congregational Church, 318 N. Church St., Rockford, IL, 61101.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Getting Closer!

The fund raising total is now up to $40,867!

I am so thrilled that we have come this far. I have been reading a fascinating book by economist Jeffrey Sachs called "The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time." The basic argument is that it is entirely possible to end life-threatening poverty everywhere on this planet by 2025. At one point he says that those who care about ending poverty, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (which, sadly, is the only place where poverty has actually become worse over the last few decades, largely because of AIDS), should focus on the "Big Five" development interventions (obviously piggy backing on the "Big Five" animals of Africa): Agricultural inputs; Investments in basic health; Investments in Education; Power, transport, and communications services; Safe drinking water and sanitation. Education is one of the keys to ending poverty - there is no doubt about it. Our church partners in Angola chose wisely when they said that they would like our "SwimMikeSwim" funds to go to a school building!

Now shooting for $50,000!