Operation Container

Departure of the 40′ Container

As soon as Pudsey Grangefield school closed in July 2008 a team spent 2 days at the school carrying the gifts for the Revival Centre into the school hall, at the same time another team recovered computers from the ‘Tardis’ and packed them into a van to take back to Ilkley for re-configuring and packing. In Ilkley 3000 text books donated by a number of schools were stamped and packed in 79 boxes along with lab equipment and items for the clinic. The computers and carpentry equipment collected from Knaresborough were carefully packed into 72 large boxes. Very large machinery items had to be wrapped as they stood.

Our friends at Tools With a Mission (TWAM) in Ipswich arranged the delivery of a 40’ container to Pudsey Grangefield on the morning of Saturday 2nd August and it’s shipping to Matugga. On Friday 1st August a team in Ilkley came together to pack 151 boxes and large machinery items into two vans ready for the next day. On the morning of 2nd August the two vans were driven to Pudsey Grangefield where and all the helpers assembled for a briefing on the packing operation and to bring furniture out of the hall ready for loading. The question of whether the huge lorry could get through the gate was soon answered as the skilful driver reversed onto the site. With what seemed an impossible 3 hour time limit the 20 volunteers drawn from churches in Ilkley worked non-stop to complete the packing in an impressive 3 hours 10 minutes. All breathed a huge sigh of relief as the container doors were locked and the customs seal inserted.

Packed into the container were: 220 chairs, 51 desks, 76 exam tables, 4 stationery cupboards, 4 filing cabinets, 12 four-seater dining tables, 4 LCD projectors, 3000 text books, 13 boxes of lab equipment, kitchen equipment, 12 sewing machines, 4 woodwork benches with vices, carpentry machinery and tools and 60 computers. Watching the lorry pull away with all these precious gifts for the children of Matugga was very emotional.

The container travelled over 4000 miles through the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean to the Kenyan port of Mombasa and then overland across Kenya to Kampala in Uganda. Thanks to everyone who worked so hard to complete the packing, carrying, computer testing, driving and other tasks. Thanks are due to all who contributed to the shipping costs.

Arrival of the 40’ Container

The container arrived in Kampala customs yard on 29th October 2008 and it sat there for 4 months while Robert Tumhairewe, TWAM’s representative in Kampala, negotiated to have as much of the consignment as possible exempt from import taxes on the basis that everything was for educational purposes. It was possible that a large tax might be applied to items that could be used in a business. Just when storage charges were becoming an issue and hope was fading the fantastic news came that Robert has got tax exemption for the whole container.

Reflections

Operation Container was a tremendous project that involved so many people; the many schools and individuals who donated all the goods, the many helpers in the UK who came together to drive, carry and pack, the staff of TWAM in Ispwich and Kampala, the shipping agents and carriers, the officials of the Uganda Ministry of Finance in Kampala and Ivan and all who unloaded the container, all those who contributed to meeting the shipping costs. It was a huge feat of organisation and a real demonstration of what can be achieved by ordinary people of goodwill working together with a passion to help others.

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