Category Archives: Uganda


It’s been tough to get a strong enough cell signal to update recently, so here is a continuation from the last post about Uganda (Down Goes the Pipe).

After leaving the Rosser family with my new awesome rock breaking tool that they welded from the leafspring, I spent 11 hours on buses and got to Kakooge in the evening. The next morning, the drilling team excitedly named the new tool “bulldozer.” 

It took over an hour to assemble the 90′ of GI pipe and lower it into the borehole to test “bulldozer.” It worked well to break apart the quartz-like rock, but lowering it into the Continue reading


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Down goes the pipe!

For three days, we tried to break out that rock and for three days, we chipped away at it, pulled out buckets of soil and rock pieces and yet, we did not progress past 87′. The fact that we have an 87′ borehole is exciting for me – it’s the deepest I’ve drilled to date! Of course, an 87′ borehole doesn’t mean much if there isn’t water at the bottom. It was discouraging to drill, pull out soil and pieces of rock, but never actually go any deeper in the borehole. It took over an hour each time we lower (and then remove) the GI pipe into the borehole to use as a percussion tool. The pipe is heavy (90′ of pipe is nearly 300lbs) and besides time consuming. It also wears the team out quickly. Below is a video clip of the moment we dropped 50′ of GI pipe down the 87′ hole. It took the rest of the afternoon to “fish” the pipe back out.

After three days of no progress in depth, we took a break (this was also after one and a half weeks of drilling at this particular site). I bought some truck leafspring locally and then carried it with me on about 6 different buses. My plan? Take the leafspring to Obule so Collin Rosser, his trainees, Emma and Dan (Water for All International) could fabricate a tool for the GI Pipe to help with the rock. Continue reading


Filed under Hydromissions, Uganda

Rain, rain, please STAY!

Butenga’s new Rainwater Catchment Tanks

We finished the Rain Water Catchment (Plan “B”) project in Butenga!
It took about a week and a half to get the material to the site, but only three days to complete the work. Planning and scheduling can be quite difficult in the field. The town, Luweero, that we go to for most of the rainwater catchment materials is about an hour away in a Matatu (in an old 15-passenger van that “easily” holds 28 people 😉).

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Plan “B”

Location of “Plan B”

Remember how we were slowly chipping away at the rocks in Butenga? Our daily routine looked like this: Drill, get stuck on a rock, hand-dig out the rocks, shovel them into a bucket to be dumped outside of the pit. Find softer soil, drop the drill into the pit (thinking that perhaps we had passed the final layer of rock), get stuck on another rock layer, take the drill out, grab picks and shovels, start digging rocks out again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. We progressed 15′ in 6 days. The work was exhausting, but the enthusiasm remained. Every man lowered into the pit worked like he would be the one to break through the rock once and for all.

When starting a project, we get as much information from locals as possible to determine if we should attempt drilling. Latrine pits in this area are very deep (50-70′) and give us a lot of information about the conditions underground. We had some data from latrine pits nearby where rock was not present. We also had encouraging information about a water spring near one of the pits dug for their surface water collection. With that information, we kept chipping away at the rock thinking we would reach water soon. Continue reading


Filed under Hydromissions, Uganda

My Next 4 (0r 5) Countries


South Sudan, 2011

In two weeks, I leave for an intense schedule of projects in Eastern Africa.

Am I ready?

Nope  😉    …but I will [have to] be in two weeks.

Uganda will be my first stop. I will be working with Washington, an awesome Ugandan national, who I trained with our drilling equipment in 2012. Washington has been drilling and managing latrine construction projects on behalf of Hydromissions for the past 4 years. We will be drilling two borehole wells – one in Butega village and one in Nyakadot village. At this moment I have funds for one latrine construction project for a school in Kiroza village, but if I raise more support, a primary school has been identified for another latrine project. The latrine projects require more material which makes them more expensive then the borehole wells.


Walking to town, Uganda 2012. Washington is on my left, wearing the green shirt. I am guessing he is around 6’7″ – a massive man with a quiet disposition.

In addition to working with Washington, I will have two volunteers from the States for part of the time. This will be so nice! Besides the Gift a Goat project team (where we need 4-6 people), I spend most of my time traveling alone for the projects.

My first week will be with Jessica, a civil engineer grad from Rowan who has worked with me in Panama and El Salvador. Jess will assist in training national volunteers and checking on the well drilled in 2012.


Patrick, Me & Jessica on our way home from our 2014 Panama project

When I drop Jess off at the airport, I will be meeting with John. John and I have worked together in Haiti on the “Gift a Goat” projects and he has worked on multiple bridge projects in Panama over the past couple of years. John will be working on borehole well drilling for two weeks.


John, left, en route to Haiti with the Gift a Goat team in 2015

Another part of my travels will be visiting missionary friends serving in different regions of Uganda. The Rosser and Craig families serve for different ministries in appropriate technologies, education, well-drilling and farming. Jennifer, an amazing nurse, treats illnesses, responds to emergencies and, most recently, assists in many many births. I learn as much as I can from these visits and apply it to the training I provide in other communities worldwide. I am really excited to visit some of the Water for All drilling clubs started by the Rossers. The manual drilling method they use is different from Hydromissions, but I think it will be quite useful to incorporate in some communities – especially areas with harder subsurfaces.

Traveling to all the locations I have planned in Uganda will not be easy. The long bumpy buses will take up many days during my 5-weeks in country, but ultimately,  I will enjoy being back in “The Pearl of Africa.”


Waiting for my bus/van to leave in 2012. Hawkers will sell you anything through the bus window – even a live chicken!

After Uganda (with a possible quick stop in Rwanda), I will be traveling to Ethiopia to train a team in drilling, pumps and hygiene education, Kenya to visit former projects and teach pumps and Malawi to train borehole well drilling, pumps and hygiene education. Total time will be about 2 months for all of these projects.


My 4 scheduled stops so far (with Rwanda as my possible 5th)

I will update you all as much as possible throughout the course of these projects!

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Filed under Hydromissions, Uganda

Her Heart Beats for Karamoja

I wanted to share some stories from my trip to Uganda. Below is about an awesome young woman, Jennifer Kragt.

After I finished the two Hydromissions projects, I took a day-long bus ride to visit my friend and check out her region for future drilling opportunities. When I arrived in Soroti, I was picked up by Jennifer, a nurse who has been serving in Uganda for over two years. Jennifer, slightly petite yet strong and athletic, drives a big land cruiser with aggression that would make any New Yorker proud. Continue reading


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Where is my pillow?!


This is a my attempt at sharing some more photos and stories from Uganda.  It is a weak start but these will get better!

No matter how long my trip – whether it is 1 week or 8 weeks – my “luggage” is always the same. One single backpack.  I tease my trainees that come on trips with more then the recommended single backpack but even if they do come on a trip with extra gear at first, they regret the extra weight once we get in the field.  It is pretty tough to carry two drill packs and personal gear if you have more then one backpack. With that said, it would be nice to be able to pack a full-size pillow sometimes : )


Filed under Hydromissions, Uganda