Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You Can't Fight City Hall...

...especially when that "City Hall" is in Luanda, Angola.

So, for a very long time now I have been trying to raise $50,000 to build a school in Waku Kungo, Angola. If you are reading this, you probably already know that. As of today, we are at $49,250. Thanks be to God, and to the hundreds of people who have made donations to the school building project because of my English Channel swim.

I arrived at that goal of $50,000 based on the cost estimates of our church partners in Angola. They arrived at that cost estimate by figuring out how much it would cost to build a FOUR room school building. It was a FOUR room school building because that was the minimum size required by the government for the government to be willing to provide a permanent teacher for the school.

However - and I have feared this for a while, after hearing from the Angolans, but have waited to tell others until things were more clear - the government has changed the rules, and now a school must have SIX classrooms for the government to be willing to provide a teacher. Apparently, the rule change cannot be "got around." They have to build a SIX room school. Ugh.

The good part of this is that the school will be able to serve 50% more students (the need is still far greater). The bad part, of course, is that it will cost more. I am working on getting a new cost estimate for the school building.

I want to be clear that I have great trust and confidence in our Angolan partners. They are talented, conscientious people. This is not a situation of "bait and switch." They are frustrated by the rule change, just as I am.

Situations like this seem almost ridiculous to most of us in the U.S. We are used to cost overruns on projects like this, of course, but we really aren't used to people "changing the rules in the middle of the game." But Angola is truly a "developing" country. That doesn't just mean that it is developing economically, it also means it is developing in its social and governmental structures. Seven years after the civil war ended, things are still shaking out. Working in the midst of some uncertainty is part of what it means to try to give Angolans the tools they need to rebuild their country.

I will, of course, post additional information on costs as it becomes available. I'll also write again before long about what the plan is for the fundraising, whether and how I'll keep it going.

In any case, we will very soon be celebrating hitting the $50,000 goal!

Peace everyone!



Debbie said...

We'll still do this Mike. You had to take a different course during your swim and you had some set backs while waiting to swim. Here are a few quotes from your previous blogs:

1) "The ability to recover from set backs is a key component in accomplishing a goal like swimming the English Channel."
2) "I ended up not really getting anywhere near far west enough to make a go at the Cape, and when the tide changed and started pushing me east again, I just came around the Cape into the adjacent bay."
3) "It must have been about the time I was missing the Cape that I asked for a time estimate to finish, and Dave, the first mate, said "You've got about two hours to go, mate, okay?" (Yes, they always say "mate!") And I said, "No, that's not okay." But I just got right back to slogging it out."

So let's keep "slogging it out" now. I think fervent prayer is also in order. The Lord knows what He is doing and we need to trust Him. (this is harder than prayer for me)! You didn't swim that channel to let this little glitch get in the way of obtaining the goal, Mike.

Mike said...

Bravo, Debbie! Thanks for the pep talk! We will indeed slog it out!