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Ugandan man in search of clean water

In the Ugandan capitol city of Kampala, where Luyinda Lawrence Samuel (Sam Lawrence) lives, it takes about six months to save enough extra spending money for a piece of pizza.

So, one of the first things John and Kimberly Calhoun of North Bend gave him to eat when he arrived in America for the first time last Thursday was pizza.

The Ugandan minister is currently living with the North Bend couple until June as he learns small-scale well drilling, a skill that will allow him to utilize water filtering technology. His goal is to bring the skills he learns in America back to Uganda.

John formed In The Field Ministries in 2003 as a way to assist others in need. Uganda was the first stop for the nonprofit Christ-centered organization dedicated to the technical service and support of missions and missionaries where they live and work.

Twenty-eight other volunteers traveled with him to install wells that could produce purified water for those living in and near Kampala. Luyinda was working with a local ministry at the time.

In The Field Ministries was invited to Uganda by the International Children's Network, a nonprofit organization that helps sponsor children in need, including those in Uganda.

"It was my first time to do this kind of thing," said Luyinda, who was completing work as a volunteer minister at the time.

"Our goal was to build biological slow-sand filters as a natural way of removing bugs, germs and natural contaminants from the local water," John said about the three-week effort. The group intends to return this summer.

The World Health Organization reports that a child dies every 12 seconds from a preventable water-related disease such as dysentery, typhoid or chronic diarrhea.

John recalled the villagers and the high number of orphaned children who had to be treated for worms and other parasites that they obtained from contaminated local water supplies.

Luyinda was invited to come to America by John and In TFM to learn how to use and expand upon the technology In TFM had implemented in the area.

"We're trying to do a hand off," John said. "We don't want to just give a fish, so to speak."

While in Uganda, John bought Luyinda, 29, his first piece of pizza, something he would have otherwise had a difficult time justifying because of the cost.

Luyinda lives in a 1,100-square-foot house with 20 other people in his extended family.

"It's small and congested, but fun," he said.

In mid March, Luyinda traveled on an airplane for the first time, flying eight hours to London and enduring a 22-hour layover before landing in Seattle.

At the end of April, John and Luyinda will travel to Texas, the home base of the equipment Luyinda will need to become familiar with. When he returns home June 8, Luyinda will be considered the "Team Chief" and will be responsible for installing and updating the wells.

Luyinda's trip has been funded through In the Field Ministries, which receives donations from private companies and the public.

The drilling materials Luyinda will need cost $20,000. John said that In The Field Ministries was already at 75 percent of its funding needs, though they are still trying to raise money.

Since coming to America, Luyinda has decided that his favorite food is hamburgers and he wants to go to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle.

He said he was impressed by American roads for their lack of bumpiness and he also enjoys the beds. Coming from an average climate of 72 degrees, he has not yet taken to the cooler climate of the Pacific Northwest, though he has amassed a collection of jackets.

"Everything is different, in a good way," he said about the states.

John and Kimberly took him to see snow, too.

"It's something I will never forget," he said.

Luyinda learned English in school while living in the village of Rakai. Advanced studies originally brought him to the city, studying accounting in college. He found his way to the ministry because of his desire to help his people and to have a variety of experiences.

Luyinda said that a whole village in Uganda may have a population of 1,000 to 3,000 people; Uganda's estimated population as of 2004 was more than 26 million. Luyinda estimated that only about 10 percent of the population lives in cities; it is a rural existence for most. Life expectancy in Uganda is in the mid 40s.

About 1.2-billion people in Uganda have no access to safe drinking water and 2.4 billion do not have adequate sanitation services. About 2-million children die every year from water-related diseases, as of 2002.

Though he will be sad to leave America this summer, Luyinda said he is honored to be able to take the skills and the experiences he is gathering back home.

"I feel so proud," he said. "It's so fulfilling. I'm happy about the whole thing."

Luyinda has been speaking at area churches, groups and schools and is available for further speaking opportunities. He will be speaking at Cascade Covenant Church, 13225 436th Ave. S.E. in North Bend at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 12.

For more information about Luyinda, In The Field Ministries or to inquire about speaking engagements, call (425) 888-3211 or visit www.inthefieldministries.org.

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