Monday, August 5, 2013

Because it Took 3 Days Last Time....

Another "quick" weekly update.

Monday - 8/5

We built another tippy tap today for a lady we have deemed ANTM. (Look at that jawline!) She's definitely an inspiring woman. As one of the key members of our initial focus groups, she spoke about gender issues and family planning. With more kids than she wants, she openly supported tubal ligation so that she can stop having children. We were more than happy to build her a tippy tap!

Tuesday - 8/6 

We visited the school today for a tippy tap observation in which we watched whether or not the students would use the tippy taps after they used the latrine. Though most of the students did use the tippy tap during our visit, it was hard to know whether or not our presence affected that use. The biggest problem we have noticed is ensuring that the tippy taps are filled with water. Every time we visit, the students fill the tippy taps with water immediately so it is hard to know whether there is water in them when we are not there. Still, it was nice to see most of the kids using the tippy tap and soap today. 

My favorite picture of the day: The girl, Oliva, has never smiled in front of us until now. It was exciting to see her being playful with her brothers, Daniel and Samuel, today. 

Wednesday - 8/7 

We had our WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene... the acronym could use some work) sensitization today. We discussed safe transport and storage of borehole water, sanitation facilities (i.e. latrines, kitchens, and trash pits) and their correct dimensions. We demonstrated how to use Waterguard, a purifying method that uses chlorination, and how to make a tippy tap. 

Thursday - 8/8 

Happy IDD! Today is a national holiday celebrating the end of fasting for people who follow the Muslim religion. I traveled to Iganga today to attempt to update this blog, which clearly failed. Getting back to K2, it was fun to see all the kids excited to eat meat tonight. 

Friday - 8/9 

Today, we cleaned up the boreholes in our village. Below is a before and after picture of the first borehole we helped clean up. With the help of our MVP VHT Paul and the community members he mobilized, we were able to clean out the mud and weeds in and around the drainage area for the borehole. Additionally, we scrubbed the cement clean and slashed away the overgrowth. 



After our borehole clean-ups, we had our muzungu football match! Interns from Bukaigo, Buvule, Buwerempe, and Kasigo all came to Kasambiika Primary School for a match. We split up into two teams based on the rivalry between K1 and K2. Though we were leading the game for most of the match, it ended in a 2-2 draw. By the end, there was an enormous crowd watching the game and we all realized we should have planned to have a sensitization considering the number of people that came.

(The muzungus playing)

(The crowd post-game)

Saturday - 8/10

I headed into Iganga once more today with Kenzie and Andrew in order to print some photos for some favorite people. We also grabbed some lunch and used the internet at Sol Cafe. I also visited the post office in Iganga for the first time today to send some postcards.
(A matatu) 

(Inside of a cramped matatu)

(Iganga town)

Sunday - 8/11 

We were supposed to have an STI sensitization today with Loy, the same woman who talked about fistula. Yet, while we were mobilizing, we discovered that there were about 2-3 funerals in nearby villages and a wedding reception today. With so many events, we felt that the turnout to this sensitization would be low. So we spoke to Loy and had her re-schedule the session. As we headed back to the house, I was invited to dine with this family. They were incredibly kind and gave me some matooke and G-nuts. Though at the time I was nervous about dealing with some unexpected bowel movements, the food was quite delicious. A beautiful Kasambiika Surprise to end the week. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Because I'm So Far Behind....

A quick weekly update! (And when I say quick... this post took me 3 different days to upload.)

Monday - 7/29

We built a tippy tap today for the lucky winner at last week's sensitization.

Tuesday - 7/30

As part of our push for having sanitation facilities and promoting sustainability, we decided to build tippy taps for each of our VHTs. Today, we built ones for Hamusa, Prossy, and Ruth.

Wednesday - 7/31

SAY WHAT. Last day of July?! Where did the time go? 

I woke up to the sound of rain pattering on the roof today. It was such a beautiful way to start the day. Made some cinnamon french toast again with help from Kenzie and Julianna. It rained almost all of the morning and we were doubtful of the obstetric fistula sensitization we had today. Yet, the sun came out around lunch time and we decided to go on with it. We were worried about a low turnout at fistula because when it rains, many people head to their gardens and start the planting process since the soil is softer. Yet, by the time we finished, about 30 people had showed up to hear what Loy, one of the UVP staff, had to say. She described her own experience with fistula - the inability to control leaking of urine, the isolation from her family and community, and the road to recovery. She is definitely an inspiration. 

Later, we headed to another UVP village, Kasigo, to say goodbye to some friends that are leaving the internship early. There was a nice potluck dinner and some speeches. Afterwards, as we headed back to the house (legitimately one house away), the boda that Andrew and I were on slipped on some mud and my foot got caught in the boda. No need to fear though! Only some bruises and a funny story to tell. 

Thursday - 8/1 

We made more tippy taps today – for Robinah and Paul.

Later we planned for our Youth HIV, STI, and Family Planning sensitization tomorrow. We’re planning on holding a football match to garner interest and then have the session during halftime.

No football today due to the leg injury from last night. The kids said they heard me yelling and knew I had gotten into an accident….and then they made fun of me.

Friday - 8/2

We learned from our focus groups during the first couple weeks in the village that teenagers start having sex when they are around 13-15. It’s also not unusual for 15 year olds to marry and start having children. With this in mind, we decided to hold a Youth sensitization today at the school. It was a slow turnout (as usual), but more boys showed up after some time. Isaac and I played for some time and I realized two things: 1) I am extremely out of shape and 2) these boys do not understand what a high kick is. During halftime, the sensitization itself seemed unorganized to me. It was difficult to keep the boys’ attention. This was the first time I had a real issue with the language barrier. Frustrated and helpless, I only hope that the information we provided somewhat stuck with them. If not, I at least hope they’ll use the condoms we passed out.

Saturday - 8/3

Today, I ventured on a day trip to Jinja, a city that sits near the River Nile. As I headed out, I met up with the favorite fam bam and one of the kids, Saidi, actually came and walked with me. He was heading to Nabitende to sell some milk. I tried to wait for a boda with him, but had no luck that early in the morning. So Saidi and I walked from Kasambiika 2 to Nabitende. We encountered a patch of rain, but carried on and made it to the trading post a bit soaked. I parted with him there and met up with Kalee, Chloe, Marva, and Sneha. We traveled to Jinja on matatus. There, we took to souvenir shopping as well as relaxing a nice café/restaurant called Flavours. It was a nice quick trip to see a different city and relive what it’s like to have a chocolate croissant.

Sunday - 8/4

Relaxing day in the village. I fetched water from the borehole today. It’s damn good exercise carrying 3 20-L jerrycans full of water on a bike. I still do not understand how women carry them on their heads. That took up most of the morning for me. After lunch, Isaac and I went to Kasambiika Primary for a football match between K1 and K2. When we arrived, many people had already come and were waiting for the game to begin. With a referee and a makeshift scoreboard, the match started. It was a close game with the first half ending in a tie. Yet, by the end K1 technically ended up winning. Their goal was debatable though as the striker kicked the goalie whilst trying to score and many people argued the referee should have called a foul. Afterwards, arguments arose and it definitely got heated but in the end, everyone went their ways.

In other news, today we discovered that one of our favorite kids, Batale, is supposedly married. He is 15. Even though I had known that from the focus groups, it’s another thing to actually know the boy. It breaks my heart to think that now he has to start providing for a family. Additionally, the girl that he has married has to be younger than him. If she’s pregnant, the labor will be difficult because her bones have yet to finish developing. It’s saddening and slightly frustrating to hear because he was one of the boys that came and listened to the Youth sensitization. It almost feels like we were too late.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

We Go! We Go! Uganda Cranes, we go!

Woo hoo! Football match today! Uganda vs. Tanzania! But first, transport…

Andrew, Kenzie, and I left to hang out with other interns in Kampala this weekend. We left K2 around 8:30AM, got into a matatu in Nabitende, arrived in Iganga around 10/10:30 (an unusually long ride). In town, we got into another matatu headed for Kampala, got dropped off in the outskirts of Uganda’s capital, had to flag down another matatu headed for the center of the city. In the center, we boarded a final matatu that took us back the way we came to the stadium. All in all, I spent 6 hours in transportation to get to the game. But the good news is I finally made it and Uganda won! 3-1 crushing the other team. The crowd went crazy. That night, all of us hung out at a cool bar/club in Centenary Park Garden and spent the night in Kampala.

In the morning, we ventured to a nice café and I had a warm chocolate croissant! Best breakfast food yet. We shopped around and hung out for half of the day. There was a nice craft fair/market across from the hostel and what I like to call the Wal-Supermart where most of us hung out before boarding a coaster back to the villages. The ride back was nice and relaxing. By the time I got back to the house, it was dinner time. Only Isaac was home and we watched Hotel Transylvania on his laptop. Cute movie and it reminded me that I need to watch Despicable Me 2 when I get home! Overall, it was a fun weekend. I even managed to get a jersey! =D

Friday, July 26, 2013

Family Planning

We had an amazing Family Planning sensitization today! 58 people showed up and about 20+ women received some type of birth control. Even more took female and male condoms. We had a male nurse, Peter, come as well and he helped to explain more of the technical questions the women and men had. All our VHTs attended as always and all were supportive of the Family Planning methods. Peter only brought pills and the Depo shot, but we stressed that UVP would hold family planning camps throughout the year so women and men can get the other types of methods (implant, tubal ligation, vasectomy, etc.) Since we only had one nurse, all of us had to help him out give methods. Juliana was the “lab technician” working with the women on pregnancy tests. Trisa and I helped weigh the women. Kenzie took their blood pressure. Isaac helped with recording information with Peter and Andrew handed out condoms. The women really appreciated the session and asked numerous questions. Persuading the men is harder, but the younger generation seems to be open to the idea of family planning. We’re hopeful that the families of K2 will be smaller as this younger generation grows up. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Silent Conversations

Wow, for cereal the health center nurses are ridiculous! As part of fixing the failed HIV Testing Day yesterday, they told us to have people come to the health center today at 8AM to get tested. We arrived around 8:15 to ensure everything would work out all right. The nurses were just seated at their houses near the health center washing their laundry! All they did was stare at the six of us seated beneath a mango tree. It was so frustrating to see. Finally, a lady came and told us that there would be a burial today so it would not be a regular working day and people would probably not come to get tested. So we had to pack up and walk what felt like a long walk back home. Between each other, we discussed the issue and figured that we should talk to the UVP staff about how to best approach this matter. There is a chance that the head midwife nurse could be transferred to another health center, which at this point, we are content with.

For the rest of the day, we made posters for our Family Planning session tomorrow. It will be a long one, but hopefully many people show up. As we finished up the posters and lunch, our favorite kids showed up. Batale, Said, Nesse, and Guster played a small game of football on our front lawn. It was a nice pick-me-up from this morning. Yet, we had to cut their game short to attend the burial. An older lady passed away. She had been a government politician so many people showed up. It was hard to watch as many people this time cried and had to be carried away. I hope she has a good afterlife. It was clear she was loved by many.

After the burial, as we came up to the house, the kids were already playing football outside. We played cards and hung around for some time until we left for the rice fields again. The sunset was breathtaking again and the games amusing. In between the yelps and happy screams from the kids, you can hear the wind and the rice silently conversing with one another. So relaxing. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Rice Makes Everything Better

Today I encountered the first real issue working in this field. We had planned with the health center a couple weeks back to have an HIV testing day. We even mobilized and announced it at our sensitization. There was some miscommunication between the community, the health center, and us. The community thought that UVP was holding a testing day with outside nurses and staff coming, but we had partnered with the health center to hold it. Still, the nurses at the health center were not helpful. People had waited outside all day to get tested, but the staff just told them to keep waiting. When we finally found out there was an issue, the nurses said that the people never came up and asked her for anything. Yet, she did not openly go and talk to the people either. After discovering there was an issue, we realized that the community does not trust or value the health center. At first, I thought it may have just been an exaggeration, but I’m beginning to learn why the relationship between the health center and the community is sour. The nurses have difficult jobs, but they are also difficult to work with.

After trying to patch up our failed testing day, we picked ourselves up by planning for Family Planning sensitization on Friday. Around 5, we (Isaac, Andrew, and I) headed to the rice field with the favorite family and some others. We hung out atop one of the hills in the middle of the rice fields where the kids sit during the day yelling to scare the birds away. We played cards, took pictures, and danced. We sat and watched the sun set over the rice fields and it was absolutely gorgeous. We also had pork for the first time for dinner, which was really yummy. NOMS.

(A picture one of the kids, Batale, got of me)

(the field!)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Carrots and Condoms

Today we had our HIV sensitization. We prepped all morning – making posters, writing scripts, and rehearsing our parts. At 1PM, we set out to the church and arrived early. It was a slow start to get a good turnout. Our VHTs only just showed up at 2:30. Around 3:15, we set out to mobilize to get more community members to come. We only got to a couple houses, but by the time we got back to the church, we had about 15 people so we decided to start. The sensitization itself went pretty smoothly. We had posters that depicted HIV transmission and prevention and the community members asked a number of questions. By the end, we had about 40 people total that came and listened to our presentation. We also handed out free condoms and demonstrated how to use them (no bananas so we went with a carrot). I think the people really enjoyed them because the two boxes of condoms we brought were all gone! After our sensitization, we walked to Kasambiika 1’s house to have a quick meeting about the school tippy tap project. We updated them on the progress and the school’s agreement to the drums and switching from soap to ash.

(Kenzie and Juliana presenting)

(Our VHTs, Fatuma and Ruth, handing out female condoms)

Walking back to our house, I stopped by the trading post by the borehole with Tina and Josie (from the K1 team). They bought some chapattis for their dinner. After saying bye to the muzungus, I walked back to the house. I spent some time at my favorite family’s house. It got pretty dark so I headed back home and on the way back, some of the boys escorted me. They are just too nice. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Productivity for the Win!

What a productive day! While Trisa, Juliana, and Kenzie ventured into Iganga, Isaac, Andrew, and I had the most productive Monday by far. We went to build a tippy tap for the winner at last week's sensitization. To our surprise, she had one already that was fully functional, but really short. So we took it apart and built her a taller one. Since she already had one, we allowed her to refer us to a friend or relative that didn't have one and we would build that person one as well. So bam! Within 2 hours, we built two tippy taps.



(Tippy Tap Winner Juliet)



We then went to Kasambiika Primary School to check in on the hand-washing project. We talked to the Sanitation Teacher, Sanitation Prefects, and the Tippy Tap Prefect about some issues we saw with the project so far. We talked about the problem with the soap chain and the teacher mentioned how they believed that the chain was unsustainable as well. They all agreed that ash would be a good idea. Everything panned out really well. We also talked to the Tippy Tap Prefect separately. In addition to a small checklist of items he should mentally go through each day (i.e. Are the jerrycans full of water? Are the tippy taps in good condition?), we also talked to him about the feasibility and reality of the changes we wanted to make. We were worried that the teachers would pressure the prefects, but he agreed that all of it would work.

After our visit to the school, we checked in with the head midwife of the health center to confirm the HIV Testing Day this Wednesday that we planned with her a few weeks ago. She did not seem to remember, but agreed to the testing day.

Once Trisa, Juliana, and Kenzie came back, we had a meeting with our VHTs. We talked about upcoming sensitization, expectations, and their thoughts and opinions on certain issues in the community. After the meeting, I am certain that our VHTs are by far the best team in UVP. They are so dedicated and engaged and they are constantly present at all of our events. They are definitely a strong advantage we have.

After the meeting, Andrew, Isaac, and I went in search of some of our favorite kids. We ended up having a mini dance party in the moonlight

Friday, July 19, 2013

Beautiful Fall

Forewarning: this post will be mainly photos! 

For this 3 day weekend, I went with most of the UVP interns and stayed at a guesthouse called the Crow's Nest in Sipi Falls. The guesthouse was gorgeous, overlooking the main falls with cute little cabins. It was nice to catch up with some familiar faces and explore the area. On Saturday, we all went on a guided hike to the three waterfalls. They were all breathtaking and stunning.