DRC Trip Diary – Success & Gratitude

Ron Bourgault, PE, LEED AP BD+C

Principal, Electrical Engineer

Ron (far left) with the electrical team

Catch previous post here. 

Day 5: Wednesday April 22, 2015

The equipment arrived late this afternoon, what a relief, I was concerned we would be headed home without completing our work; we now have enough time. The rest of the day was pretty easy, wandered around the campus, read, and took a nap. Certainly a nice mid trip break.

Busy day tomorrow, we start in earnest.

Day 6: Thursday April 23, 2015

Now that is what I am talking about! We accomplished a lot today with our two Congolese electricians, Dale and DJemba. These guys can work. We installed three of the four panels and plan to switch the campus electricity to the new system in the morning. Let’s hope Kyle and I are on the same page when it comes to labeling different ends of the wire.

We are eating  three times a day, at least 6 items to select from. So far the favorite has been Nile Perch in a light tomato sauce over yellow rice, accompanied with boiled plantains– wow, what a treat!

The people we meet are extraordinary, you just won’t find nicer group of people. I have run into many people I met last February, kind of a homecoming. Our host, Ted Witmer has been extremely helpful, running down miscellaneous items and providing minimal supervision.


Ted Witmer, our extremely generous and accommodating host, in the electrical room just about completed.

Day 7: Friday April 24, 2015

Imagine sitting in a restaurant in the middle of a meal, and the power goes out. It’s so dark that you can’t see your hand in front of you… Would you stay put, continue your conversation and the meal?? Well in Congo, you do just that and at some point mutter, “This is Congo” and go on like nothing happened. It was a very funny situation at dinner tonight.

Now for our day, we successfully completed the electrical cut-over and the installation of the remaining equipment. Big success! No way would we be even half way done without Dale (sounds like Dolly) and Djemba, the D is silent. Anyone wondering if the outage mentioned previously was our doing, I certainly hope not.

Kyle and I are pretty tired from the heat in the little electrical room; we can’t get enough water at this point to hydrate.

With the completion of the install, we transition to a less intense schedule for the next couple days. We have about a half day of clean-up and organization. Hopefully we can get off campus for a few hours each day. We need to get Kyle a Butterfinger! (Priorities, LOL)


Ron and Kyle happy to have completed the project.


Day 8: Saturday April 25, 2015

We put the finishing touches on the panels today, including the covers and general clean-up. We said our goodbyes to Dale and Djemba–they brought a lot of joy to our work.

The afternoon was spent organizing tools and the remaining materiel to be left with USB for future projects.

A special thanks to my longtime friend, Sam Paruolo. He is the true electrician behind this installation. Our first jobs as electrician helpers were together in 1979… I somewhat phased out, but he continued on. He helped me plan the material and tools for the trip. I texted Sam several times this week when we needed assistance with broken tools and had wiring questions. Sam, you are a brother and a friend. I will be buying you that lunch and maybe a few dinners very soon.

So many other people to thank including very generous donors and the folks at Crescent Electric in Denver, including Travis Marlow and Bret Kramer, without their help and support, this project never would have happened.

Day 9: Sunday April 26, 2015

We attended the local church this morning and were treated with amazing African worship that had the whole building rocking. Kyle and I were welcomed by the entire congregation and thanked for our service to USB. The service and worship bounced around between French, Swahili and a couple other native languages. Ted could not even follow all of it. After service we met several people from Samaritans Purse, an excellent organization that serves around the world. Some of the same people I met here last year are still serving Bunia.

Our afternoon will be spent resting, packing and reflecting. The rain has hit hard today, first time we have had rain during the day, what a blessing not having to work in the rain all week. Tonight we have been invited out to dinner with Ted and Dana.

Now the process of leaving begins. This brings a rush of many different feelings, excitement and anticipation as we are anxious to return home to our families, sadness as we leave our new friends, a bit of anxiety and stress as we have to instantly re-enter our normal life and all the responsibilities that come with them. Life here is hard but simple; the “distractions” we face at home are replaced with basic survival needs of food, shelter and medical. It is hard to grasp we all occupy the same planet.

This will be the last post for the trip–our flight from Bunia to Entebbe is at 7:00 AM tomorrow. We will have a 12 hour layover where we will head to the EMI office in Kampala for meetings on other ongoing projects.

Our flight out of Entebbe is at 11:30 PM (2:30 PM Mountain time), our path this time will be Amsterdam, Atlanta, arrive in Denver late afternoon on Tuesday.

Thanks to everyone for your support and prayers, this was a team effort.

Kyle and Ron

Adam Sachs, PE

Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Amy Pitts, MBA, BSN, RN

Medical Equipment Project Manager

Andy Neathery

Technology BIM Specialist

Angela Howell, BSN, RN

Senior Associate, Medical Equipment Project Manager

Anjali Wale, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Electrical Engineer

Austin Barolin, PE, CEM, LEED AP O&M

Senior Associate, Senior Energy Analyst

Beth Bell

Principal, Chief Financial Officer

Bilal Malik

Associate, Senior Electrical Designer

Brennan Schumacher, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Lighting Design Studio Leader

Brian Hageman, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Plumbing Discipline Lead

Brian Hans, PE, LEED AP

Associate Principal, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Brian J. Lottis, LEED AP BD+C

Associate, Senior Mechanical Designer

Brianne Copes, PE, LEED AP

Senior Associate, Mechanical Engineer

Bryen Sackenheim

Principal, Technology Practice Leader

Carolyn Carey

Medical Equipment Project Manager

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