After Gary Kaplan of the Kaplan Foundation went to Bwindi, Uganda on a successful mission trip to bring clean water to the people there, he always wanted to return. During his first trip, Kaplan wanted to learn about the village and to bring the people a clean source of drinking water. While he was happy with the success of that experience, he wanted to focus on the needs of the children during his second visit.
Focusing on the children of Bwindi
Kaplan was finally able to return to Bwindi. During his second trip, he spent time with the children of Bwindi and asked them about their needs. He also spent time talking to the schoolmaster, and the children and the schoolmaster identified different needs.
While the children asked for necessities, including shoes, pencils, paper, socks, chicken, and beef, the schoolmaster talked about the children’s educational needs. The church owned most of the land around Bwindi and had given the school a plot for their school. However, the school and village were very poor, and the structure consisted of little more than the land that it was on.
Gary Kaplan first addressed the needs that the children expressed and responded by serving more than 600 kids a chicken dinner. For the children, this meal was likely the best that they had ever had. The children were thrilled to be served a chicken dinner, which was a nice contrast to the Massa they normally ate every day.
Kaplan found that the school consisted of a few slats of wood for the floor. There were large holes that the children could step down in. The roof was fairly nonexistent. The schoolmaster expressed his excitement that Kaplan might be able to help with a more permanent structure.
Bwindi and the seasons
The village is located inside of the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The park is located in southwestern Uganda and encompasses a portion of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It borders the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Virunga National Park.
Bwindi experiences two seasons, including the wet and dry seasons. During the wet season, the area experiences months of rain. By contrast, the dry season is hot and features very little rain. Kaplan’s second trip brought him back to Bwindi during the dry season, which was a great time for building a new school for the children. Since many of the children had to walk for miles to and from the school each day, Kaplan first supplied clean water so that they could rinse off.
Building the new school
Kaplan next focused on helping the schoolmaster and village to build a new school. Building the school was the largest part of his second trip to Bwindi. The Kaplan Foundation built a permanent structure for the school that was complete with floors, walls, and a roof. This beautiful new school enthralled the children and their schoolmaster, but Kaplan was not done.
Gary Kaplan was bothered by the thought of some of the children walking for many miles every day just to go to school and to return home. He and the foundation responded by building dormitories for the children so that they could have a safe and comfortable place to stay during the school week instead of having to walk so far each day. The Kaplan Foundation built two dormitories to house one hundred girls and one hundred boys. To make sure that they would have the food that they would need during the school week, Kaplan and the Kaplan Foundation made sure that the school had the resources it needed to provide the extra meals to the children during the school week.
The people and children of Bwindi hold a special place in the heart of Gary Kaplan and his foundation. His mission trips to Bwindi have positively impacted his life, the lives of his family, and the people of Bwindi. It can only be imagined what Kaplan and the Kaplan Foundation will do the next time that they go to the village and the positive changes that they will plan for the future.