Ugandan officials visit North Kitsap next week

POULSBO — Three Ugandan dignitaries will visit North Kitsap next week to build relationships in education, technology and trade.

Poulsbo Fire Lt. Edward Wright, who helped start and supply a volunteer fire and EMT department in Mubende, Uganda, said the officials are Rose Nsereko Namayanja, a member of Parliament and the state minister for Luweero Triangle; Daniels Kazibwe Zziwa, secretary for education and health in Mubende; and a third official.

They arrive in the area on Oct. 23 and will connect with Wright, who will accompany the delegation during their visit here. According to Wright, the officials will meet with the Gates Foundation; discuss technology with Chance Gower of South Kitsap School District’s Career and Technical Education program; and explore potential partnerships with Bates College Tacoma. The group will attend the Oct. 26 meeting of the Rotary Club of Poulsbo-North Kitsap.

Namayanja will speak about trade development at a meeting of the African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest on Oct. 27, at the Red Lion in Seattle. The delegation will leave for Uganda on Oct. 30.

Wright is president of Poulsbo-based Targhee Fire Services, which provides fire equipment design, training and contract firefighting services. He is a member of the board of directors of the African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest, which promotes trade and investment relationships between Africa and this region.

Wright got involved in the effort to build a firefighter/EMT department in Mubende after a deadly orphanage fire there. Mubende is a city of 40,000 people in west-central Uganda; the closest fire brigade was in Kampala, about 100 miles away.

Wright and a paramedic friend visited Mubende in 2011 and trained a new fire brigade on the maintenance and operation of an ambulance and fire truck.

The fire department in Tumwater, a sister city of Mubende, donated the ambulance and shipped it in spring. The Poulsbo Firefighters Association purchased and shipped a surplus fire truck from Port Ludlow. The North Kitsap Rotary Club donated funds toward the transport costs; other assistance was provided by Port Ludlow Firefighters Association, Orcas Island Fire and Rescue, Tumwater Sister Cities Association, and individual donors.

Wright also took with him donated medical equipment and laptops for a primary school.

Mubende is located just north of the equator at about 5,000 feet. There is a small hospital in Mubende city and a few clinics scattered around the district, but there are currently no emergency services for the 40,000 residents of the city or 600,000 of the district, Wright said.

City and district elders asked for help after the orphanage fire. Tumwater learned of the need for help through its sister city relationship.

“Ugandans have had their share of tragedy in disasters and political upheaval,” Wright said. “Peace is breaking out and they’re trying to build a viable community with the basic public services we take for granted.”


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