Friday, November 12, 2010

WREX TV story

WREX teevee did this nice story this week. Before I left they gave me a little video camera to take video, and they used some of it in the story. I still need to get to a full trip report, I know!

WREX News story, click here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pictures from School Dedication

Hello! I don't have the time yet to write a real report, but here are some pictures from my visit to Waku Kungo for the dedication of the school. I'll have a report up by the middle of November. Thanks for helping to make this possible!

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Wahoo! On Sunday, August 29, 2010, we surpassed the goal of $70,000 to fund the building of the school in Waku Kungo, Angola! Thanks be to God, and to hundreds of people who have contributed and made this possible!

I suppose this means that I'll have to write some nice, reflective piece to wrap up this blog. (Sentimental sigh.) But that will have to wait for another day.

Swimming the English Channel was a wonderful experience, but being a vehicle or catalyst to enable so many people to contribute to this important school building project truly brings me great joy.

Thank you to everyone. You have truly made a difference in the lives of hundreds of students who will be able to face the challenges of their lives, through education!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Okay, One Last Push!

The beginning of August finds me just $7105 away from the $70,000 goal. Actually, the money is not the goal. Helping the people of Waku Kungo is the goal! Specifically, helping the church finish off the construction of the school, so they can educate 500 more students who would otherwise receive little or no education.

I haven't done too much of this, but because of a recent email I received from Luis Samacumbi (the overseer of the project in Waku Kungo), I am going to tug at the heartstrings a bit. Take a look at this:

This is a young girl, named Gizela, in Waku Kungo who lives without the use of her legs. Such childhood disabilities are common in Angola, for a number of reasons. Sadly, many such children face very difficult lives, because Angolan society, and even their families, believe they have little potential.

This sad reality is connected to the school building project in Waku Kungo, because one of the special goals of this school will be to help students who have fallen behind in their education. The church in Waku Kungo is committed to this. Students fall behind for many reasons completely unrelated to their academic abilities, with poverty, illness, distance, and discrimination against girls being the four most common reasons.

For example, Gizela, pictured above, is twelve years old, but only in third grade. Because of the extra challenges she faces, she is already 2-3 years behind in her education, and if left to the regular schools, will likely fall further and further behind. She is exactly the kind of student the school in Waku Kungo will have a particular mission to serve.

Can you make a contribution today to help kids like Gizela get the education they deserve? The church in Waku Kungo recently gave her a wheelchair. Can you help her, and 499 others, also get they education they need to thrive in life?

We have $7105 to go. The Mission Board of my congregation (Second Congregational Church, Rockford, IL) has decided to match all the remaining gifts to get us to our goal of $70,000. So every dollar you give is worth two!

You can give online by clicking here. Or you can write a check to "Second Congregational Church," with "Angola School" in the memo line, and send it to Second Congregational Church, 318 N. Church St., Rockford, IL 61101.

I will be visiting Waku Kungo in October, and it sure would be great to get the full $70,000 to them before the end of August, so they can have the pride of finishing the school before I arrive.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Progess Continues!

The progress continues in Waku Kungo, with good news all around.

First, pictures! As you can see, they are making excellent progress on the building. I thought they had the roof up already, but that is actually the next big piece they will take up. These pictures are interesting because they show a little insider's view of their construction methods. Because rocks are a local material and cheaper than cement, they fill in everything they can with rocks before using cement. The bricks for the walls look pretty "rough," but as you can see, when finished, both floors and walls look great.

Second, the donation total is now up to $61,457, which means we were able last week to send another $10,000 on to Waku Kungo. They have had a brief stoppage of work due to lack of funds, but that $10,000 will get them working again very soon. Just about $8500 to go.

Third, I have been invited to be part of a three person delegation to go to Angola in October. While there, we will have a dedication service for the new school, and visit several other areas as guests of I.E.C.A. I am looking forward to the trip with great anticipation! It will be so wonderful to see Waku Kungo and the school building, and meet the people who have made this all possible, as well as meet some of the students who will be using the school.

I have a received a detailed accounting of how the money has been spent. The project team in Waku Kungo, and Luis Samacumbi, the national project leader, have all been wonderfully transparent in their dealings. I am not sure whether our $70,000 (i.e. $10,000 more) will complete the project, so I will have to ask what they think about that. I sure hope so!

I must confess that I do not have a great plan of how to come up with the remaining $8500. I am sure we can get there eventually, but to be fair to the folks in Waku Kungo, it really should be sooner, rather than later. I'll be pondering these things!

Grace and peace!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

CSA Music-a-thon Rocks!

Many, many thanks to the Community School of the Arts at Wheaton College for a wonderful contribution! Back in February the CSA had its annual Music-a-thon, and this year the proceeds were designated for the SwimMikeSwim / Angola School project. My son, Henry, was part of the CSA for many years and I have three nieces and nephews who have participated there as well. It was so kind of them to devote this year's money to the Angola school.

The Music-a-thon is a day for CSA students to play for an extended time, raising donations for their work. It is a way for them to use their considerable musical gifts to be a blessing to others. And a blessing they were!

I just received word that the total contribution from the CSA Music-a-thon is $5,568!

That brings the total so far to $59,056. So, now just under $11,000 to go to reach the goal of $70,000 to enable around 640 students to get the education they need to build their lives, their community, and their country.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update # 2 from Waku Kungo - Foundations!

The construction is progressing! As of the middle of January (when the pictures below were taken), they had poured the foundation, and by now have probably put up the main support beams. It is wonderful to see the progress!

The fundraising has been going rather slowly lately, with the total now at $52,863 - but I am confident we will get there eventually. I hope we can get the remaining $17,000 in the next four months, which should allow for no interruption in construction. Ideas of how to bring in another $17,000! Contributions???

Here are the most recent pictures:

And here is the narrative of the second update from Luis Samacumbi, including careful financial detail.

School Waku Kungo
Update # 2


By: Luis Samacumbi

"... Our God will fight for us "(Nehemiah 4: 20b)


Before the end of 2009, after visiting the Waku Kungo I had written the update # 1 on the degree of execution of work and implementation of this project school. At that time in addition to existing stakeholders in the project in Angola and the United States also sent the first pictures taken with my own digital camera. This time, I could not move to the project site, yet I have good news for all of you. Brother Luciano, one of those responsible for implementation of the project came to Luanda at the end of January. At this point we exchanged ideas about the work and also put in perspective what the future hold for the kids once the school is completed. The commitment and interest of government officials in the municipality was the highlight of our conversation.

The school year in Angola officially began in the past day February 1, 2010. In Waku Kungo you can also see in the streets of the city children dressed in white, carrying their chairs to sit. It is in this particular area that the IECA with the support of its partners would contribute. Our desire is to see children studying in a school with better conditions of learning and education where no child will no longer bring chair from her/his own home. The work well started in Waku Kungo supported by Rev. Mike Solberg, the Tuthill Commission, the Illinois Conference - Chicago and the Angola Partnership Group, is actually the indicator that we are moving in the right direction towards this more just Angola, based on ethical moral and Biblical principles.

What is new?

It is with great joy and enthusiasm that I share the following progress:

• The Municipal Administration of Waku Kungo is very pleased with the initiative of IECA to build a six rooms school;

• Rev. Joaquim Alberto Mukupe, IECA’s pastor in Waku Kungo was recently elected to the highest position in the Provincial synod of Kwanza Sul as Provincial Secretary, in the last Assembly held in Uku Seles on the weekend February 6-7 2010. This means that Pastor Mukupe will move to Sumbe – capital city of the Province in a near future. Let me ensure that this change will not affect in any way the implementation of the project as Rev. Mukupe will be the Provincial Secretary and will oversee all activities and projects including the work begun in Waku Kungo. Moreover, DASEP National is closely following the this Waku Kungo project actions;

• The foundations are all finished at this time, as seen in the attached photographs;

• 33 pillars completed. Only 13 are about to be finished. Once completed this step will begin raising the walls of the school;

• Main materials including: iron 12mm for pillars, thousand bricks, stones and sand, are already on the construction site;

• The builders have already received 25% of the amount agreed up on the contract for their payment;

• The first financial report was submitted to DASEP National. This is a good indicator of transparency and rigor in the management of funds. After analyzed the consistency of this report, DASEP National will make recommendations where needed and ask another funds request from the team in Waku Kungo;

• DASEP National received via Bank an additional $ 30,500.00 for this Waku Kungo School project. It is important to emphasize that $ 10,000.00 out of $30.500, 00 came from Tuthill Commission;

Please check the first financial report further down:
[This doesn't align very well on this blog - for each item, the first number is the amount in Kwanza (Angolan currency) and the second number is the amount in USD.]

Nr Description Kwanza USD
01 Cleaning of the Construction site 22.500,00 252.00
02 Loads (10) of Sand 234.000,00 2.629,00
03 Loads(15) of stones 233.000,00 2.617,00
04 Communications – Cell phone airtimes 9000.00 101.00
05 Office files - administration 2730.00 31.00
06 Photos 2000.00 22.00
07 Cement (100 ) bags of 50 kg 160.000,00 1.798,00
08 Iron/cast iron of 12mm for pillars 90.000,00 1.011,00
09 Fuel (25 liters) for motorbike 1000.00 11.00
10 water well digging 6000.00 67.00
11 Barrow (2) 7000.00 78.00
12 Car rental for Brick transportation 23.500,00 264.00
13 Barbed burned and barbed wire 20kg and 2 rolls 15.000,00 168.00
14 Steps /support 800 26.000,00 292.00
15 Brick (1.000) 82.280,00 924.00
16 Eventual work - School area fence (sticks & wire)9000.00 101.00
17 Plank, board for Construction (15) 23.500,00 264.00
18 Motorcycle and wheelbarrow Repair 4500.00 50.00
19 25% Builders Payment 00 3.850,00
20 6 loads of squeezed stones 30.000,00 337.00
Total 981,010.00 14.857,00


Income: $ 19,774.00
Expenditure: $ 14.857,00
Balance: $4.917, 00 (in the bank: $ 4.774.00 and in cash: Kz 15.175, 00)

Word of thanks:

On behalf of all of us in IECA, please allow me thank you sincerely for turning the dream of many children in Waku Kungo into reality. Keep it up, do not be weary.

Thankfully Yours,

Luís Samacumbi