In 2014, I had the great honor to be the musical director for the 1st year of the HIV Awareness Music Project. While I was there I had the opportunity to visit a local primary school, play music with the children and speak to the headmaster of the school. The headmaster mentioned that the children were not graduating on time because they miss a lot of school. The children usually do not go to school when it rains because the school suffers from many lightning strikes. They were averaging nearly 30 strikes a year. Several children a year are killed at schools in this particular region of southwestern Uganda. After returning to the United States, I kept thinking about the problem at Kisiizi Primary School and decided to try to reach out for some help.
My searches brought me to Patrick Doyle. Patrick is a lightning specialist in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Patrick took all of the information about the location, weather, soil, climate, altitude and building specifics and devised a plan. We needed to dissipate the static electricity that builds up in the schools. This region of East Africa has one of the highest rates of lightning strikes on the globe. In addition to that, they are situated over a mile high in altitude. This region is also located around Lake Bunyonyi which is one of the deepest lakes in Africa. It is an incredibly hilly area, sometimes called Africas’ Swiss Alps. They terrace the hillside for their crops to utilize all the water possible, they use every inch of land for their homes, animals and crops. This leave the very top of the hill for the school and the church. They build handmade brick buildings with metal corrugated roofs. The children running around the school build up static electricity which stores up in the school under the metal roof. When lightning clouds come over, the schools have become like capacitors storing up all of that energy and they are huge targets for the lightning. Patrick introduced me to his invention called a lightning dissipator. The dissipators are mounted on the crest of the roof of the school, connected with wire to each other and then to a ground rod pounded in the ground at each corner. These dissipators dissipate the static charge in the building 24/7.
In 2015, my wife Misty and I formed Together Our Mission and became a 501(c)3. I returned to Uganda, armed with a box of dissipators to begin work on the school. With the help of Vincent Avila, an electrician from New Orleans, and Kiboneire Bright and Elevis, our helpers in Uganda, they installed the first system on the school at Kisiizi. I returned in 2016 and completed a dissipation system on the nearby church, St. Marks. In December of 2017 I returned with my wife Misty and completed two more schools and five more churches. Together Our Mission then shipped supplies and Kiboneire Bright and Elevis completed Yamuriro Primary School and church on their own.
In September of 2019, I returned again with my friend, Jeff Battcher. Myself, Jeff, Bright and Elevis, completed four more schools, four more churches and one home. To date Together Our Mission has installed lightning dissipation systems on 8 schools, 11 churches and 3 homes in the Lake Bunyonyi region of southwestern Uganda. Not one building that has been worked on by Together Our Mission has suffered a lightning strike since.
Together Our Mission has now been trying to help in this region of East Africa for five years. We are building a larger list of schools and structures in the area that are having problems with lightning. Kiboneire Bright continues getting phone calls often from surrounding schools trying to figure out why these schools are not getting struck any more. We are organizing the lists in order of severity and trying to get to as many as we can as quickly as we can. We are also increasing our team in Uganda so we can be more efficient and more productive