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Massive shipment of donations begins journey to Uganda

Two forklifts maneuvered their way around the nondescript, 10,000-ton container, awkwardly lifting it onto the bed of an 18-wheeler. A rain-drenched crowd looked on as the immense weight of the shipment lifted one forklift’s rear wheels off the ground.

Maybe, the observers joked, they should sit on the back end to hold the forklift down.

They held umbrellas and chatted as the machines labored. But after all, these observers deserved a break. They were some of nearly 100 volunteers who helped put together this massive box of goods bound for a small Pygmy settlement in southern Uganda.



Tuesday morning, the group said goodbye to the container and its $100,000 worth of equipment, including a complete X-ray lab. Dentist Barry Turner said the shipment marks a pivotal moment in the community’s support of the Batwa Pygmies.

The Batwa’s rural community in Uganda is where Nevada County’s Dr. Scott and Carol Kellermann have toiled the past four years to establish a school and a clinic with much help from area residents and the county’s five Rotary clubs.




The likelihood is slim that two hefty forklifts will be on hand to help when the container arrives in Africa in two months, but if the number of Pygmies who come to the Kellermanns’ clinic is any indication of the need and interest in medical care, there will be a sizable crowd ready to help unload the medical equipment and other donations.

Volunteer Lee Moore said unloading the cargo might be tough, but definitely not impossible. He knows from experience that it can be done – he once watched Haitians unload a similar container of goods at a clinic site set up by Nevada County’s Haiti Mission Outreach. He said poles, people, and a lot of sweat helped get the container from the truck to the ground in the rural area.

Some of the goods in the container destined for Africa might first need to be unloaded to alleviate some of the weight. Another resident, Nicolas Conklin, hopes to be there when it happens to see how good his packing job was.

Conklin, who now works for SBC, was a loadmaster in the Air Force for 17 years and helped pack the container with the X-ray equipment, dental chairs, generators, clothing, and more. He used the same method he learned in the military – heavy stuff in the middle, lighter and softer items used as padding and protection.

When the container was finally latched Tuesday morning onto the truck at Robinson Enterprises, Conklin grinned and crossed his fingers. He is now trying to raise money for a trip to Uganda in early June with other area residents to help set up the lab.

“This is what humanity is all about,” he said.

The container has a long journey, first overland to Oakland, where it will board a freight ship, across a few oceans, and landing at a port on the Indian Ocean – Mombasa, Kenya. Its entire voyage will be tracked by an $1,100 satellite system donated and installed by Moore, who is president of VTrac Systems, a Nevada County security and anti-theft equipment company.

At any point during the journey, those interested in the container’s travels can log onto VTrac’s Web site and see where it is, within a 30-foot radius. Web visitors can see what the temperature is both inside and out – something Moore said will give people an idea what weather is like in Uganda.

Some volunteers will get the chance to feel that weather themselves this year, as two groups of area residents fly to Uganda to help with the Kellermanns’ clinic.

What’s in the crate

The 10,000-pound container headed for Uganda includes:

– Complete X-ray lab and generator – 3,800 pounds

– Dental suite and generator – 3,400 pounds

– 120 bags and boxes of clothing – 1,500 pounds

– 40 bags of towels and bedding – 500 pounds

Volunteer Lee Moore said unloading the cargo might be tough, but definitely not impossible. He knows from experience that it can be done – he once watched Haitians unload a similar container of goods at a clinic site set up by Nevada County’s Haiti Mission Outreach. He said poles, people, and a lot of sweat helped get the container from the truck to the ground in the rural area.

Some of the goods in the container destined for Africa might first need to be unloaded to alleviate some of the weight. Another resident, Nicolas Conklin, hopes to be there when it happens to see how good his packing job was.

Conklin, who now works for SBC, was a loadmaster in the Air Force for 17 years and helped pack the container with the X-ray equipment, dental chairs, generators, clothing, and more. He used the same method he learned in the military – heavy stuff in the middle, lighter and softer items used as padding and protection.

When the container was finally latched Tuesday morning onto the truck at Robinson Enterprises, Conklin grinned and crossed his fingers. He is now trying to raise money for a trip to Uganda in early June with other area residents to help set up the lab.

“This is what humanity is all about,” he said.

The container has a long journey, first overland to Oakland, where it will board a freight ship, across a few oceans, and landing at a port on the Indian Ocean – Mombasa, Kenya. Its entire voyage will be tracked by an $1,100 satellite system donated and installed by Moore, who is president of VTrac Systems, a Nevada County security and anti-theft equipment company.

At any point during the journey, those interested in the container’s travels can log onto VTrac’s Web site and see where it is, within a 30-foot radius. Web visitors can see what the temperature is both inside and out – something Moore said will give people an idea what weather is like in Uganda.

Some volunteers will get the chance to feel that weather themselves this year, as two groups of area residents fly to Uganda to help with the Kellermanns’ clinic.

What’s in the crate

The 10,000-pound container headed for Uganda includes:

– Complete X-ray lab and generator – 3,800 pounds

– Dental suite and generator – 3,400 pounds

– 120 bags and boxes of clothing – 1,500 pounds

– 40 bags of towels and bedding – 500 pounds


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