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. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Midterm Debrief - Halfway Through. WHAT

We had the UVP Midterm Debrief today. As we headed out on bodas to the Nabitende Sub-County Headquarters for the meeting, we saw another boda with pigs strapped to the back! It was sad to see since the pigs squealed every time it hit a bump or ditch in the road, but our boda driver just laughed at us pitying it. He said it was a normal thing. Another Kasambiika Surprises moment.

Midterm Debrief was interesting. Every team spoke about their biggest challenge working as a team, working with the community, and how they overcame it. Since our team rocks, we didn't have any challenges working as a team. Our community is amazing as well. Our VHT team is so involved and invested. The community members are interested in learning and they participate in our education sessions. So the only challenge we could come up with was managing their expectations. We often get asked for our personal items a lot (camera, eyeglasses, money, radio, phones, etc.), but that usually happens when travelling so it's not such a great challenge to overcome. We just explain our situation and what we came here to do. It tends to work out for the most part.

After debrief, it was only some football, dinner, and sleep. It's pretty crazy to think that an entire month has gone by here in Uganda. Time feels like it's flying by too quickly. A large part of me wishes that I was staying for much longer. In any case (moving on from my moment of lamenting), tomorrow, we have the day off and Kenzie, Trisa, Andrew, and I are heading to Sipi Falls. Woo!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dull Knives...

This morning we headed to the school to follow up on the tippy tap hand-washing project. Last time, the other Kasambiika team visited the school and found that all the soap had been stolen. The teachers said the issue was that the soap was scented. That was pretty disappointing, but this time we brought unscented soap so we're hoping that they won't get stolen. Yet, our team is trying to think of a better way to have the students wash their hands. One major problem with soap (besides the stealing) is that it's not a sustainable chain. We don't think the school will be able to maintain a feasible method for obtaining soap for the students to use. We are working on different methods, but we are leaning towards switching from soap to ash. Supposedly, ash is a very good disinfectant and since the school has a kitchen, ash is almost always available. But we are waiting to see how the school manages with the soap batch we gave today before making the switch.

After planning for our HIV sensitization next Tuesday and lunch, some of the kids stopped by. We didn't have the football today, but Kenzie brought out the volleyball. The kids held it out as long as they could, but after awhile, their forearms hurt too much. So we just circled up and tossed each other the ball. After some time, it turned into a giant game of keep away with 2 teams. With all the screaming, more kids arrived. It was definitely fun, but tiring! They have so much energy. I met up with Batale after some time and peeled some more cassava. I had a knife today! Woo! And of course, I cut myself... on a dull knife. They invited me to their rice fields tomorrow. I'm excited to see them. If I'm cutting rice at the same rate it takes me to peel cassava though, I'll be at it all night.

I did have another Kasambiika Surprise today. I learned that Ugandans have a different way to tell time. The clock runs from 7-1. So the first hour of the day is at 7AM and they call that sawa mundala (1st hour). 8AM is then sawa babiri (2nd hour) and so on. Then at 7PM, the clock switches back to sawa mundala (the first hour of the night). It's some crazy schtuff. It took me at least 20 minutes to wrap my head around, but I think I finally got it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kasambiika Surprises

Woo! Today was our first sensitization and it was a hit! Approximately 85 people attended our malaria session and we sold 24 subsidized nets out of 53. It went really well. We talked about the symptoms, prevention, and treatment of malaria. We included a little skit as well to demonstrate the most vulnerable populations and how to best prevent malaria. Kenzie was a pregnant mother, I was a child under 5, and Andrew was the mosquito. The community members laughed and applauded our poorly acted skit, but we think the message was clear. We answered some questions and dispelled some myths too. In addition, we started our weekly tippy tap raffle. What is that you ask? Well folks, here's how it works: 1) we first randomly chose the winner of a new tippy tap by picking a number on the attendance sheet, 2) then we come and build a tippy tap at the winner's house. Boom. Done. Aren't you jealous?

After coming back, the teammates wanted some quiet time so there was no football today. But I was able to borrow Said's hoe and fill up a trash pit we had dug a few weeks back. (By we, I mean Isaac). Apparently, I'm too slow with a hoe, so Said ended up filling up the rest. With the leftover dirt, the little ones helped me fill up other holes in our compound. Now, we hopefully won't have as many sprained ankles! After returning the hoe, I also went with some of the kids to the borehole to fetch some more water. It was getting pretty dark and this is when I learned that the borehole is actually locked. This is so that no one can steal the borehole handle. I'm not sure why this surprised me, but I guess I didn't think the community borehole would need to be locked. Yet, it's also nice to know that there are people willing to take on the responsibility of maintaining the borehole and keeping it safe. Kasambiika surprises.

Monday, July 15, 2013

String is a Best Friend in Kasambiika

Today, we woke up and relaxed for a bit before heading out to do work. Kenzie and I fetched some water at the borehole. Isaac worked on a poster to hang up for our malaria sensitization tomorrow. Then, we tried taking the bikes to the school to drop off some jerrycans for the tippy taps. I took Kenzie while Andrew had Isaac. Yet, we had an epic fail. The back seat where Kenzie was sitting started to break. With a quick fix-it, Kenzie and I switched seats and we headed out again. But then another epic fail. The pedal on the bike broke. So Papa Isaac made a makeshift pedal using string again and we conceded to having only Kenzie and Andrew ride the bikes to the school. 

As Isaac and I walked back to the house to get ready to mobilize people for the malaria sensitization tomorrow, we passed by some of the favorites - Batale and Said. They were sitting outside their hut peeling cassava. We stopped to greet, yet we ended up sitting and peeling with them. Batale and Isaac had knives, but I just used my fingers. I had cassava up in my fingernails for the rest of the day. After some time, Kenzie and Andrew met us and we all headed back to the house for lunch. As we started to head out to mobilize, Batale came by with cassava and corn. It still amazes me that people here can give so much when they have so little. 

After our hour of walking around and telling people about our "omusumo ku musuuda gw'ensiri" (malaria sensitization), we hung up some posters at the boreholes and the health center. By the time we got back, Juliana and Trisa had come back from Iganga with all the groceries and items for the week. After unloading, Isaac and I headed to Nabitende to buy some luxury items (i.e. sodas). On our way there, our boda man had to stop on the side of the road because there was a giant, black cobra in the road. It was at least 2 feet long and slithering its way into the potato fields. 

When we got back, it was only football, dinner, and setting the rat traps. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Rats 1, Humans 0

I woke up this morning to the sounds of rats fighting or possibly dying. Trisa and I got out of our room to check where they were. In our hutch, we heard one that was squeaking and screaming. Isaac, Kenzie, and Andrew all got up as well and we started preparing for war. We stuffed the bottom gaps of the doors with curtains, grabbed weapons (a soccer ball, a bucket, a broom, and a stick), and a flashlight. As we looked for the rat, a small one jumped out and ran out before we could get it. Disappointed, I thought there wouldn't be another one, but Isaac was adamant. He pulled out drawers and poked around. Then we saw it. About 7 inches with an enormous tail, this rat ran around the hutch and hid from view. At one point, Andrew was about to stab it with a stick until it jumped out of reach and started running around the living room. With all of us on top of chairs, stools, and tables, I swept the rat away from the garage a couple of times, Kenzie threw the soccer ball at it, Trisa waited with the heavy bucket for the drop, Andrew clapped loudly... and Isaac tried to smack it with the stick. All the while, we were screaming and yelling. Eventually, we ended up failing as the rat sprinted to the garage through a hole in the gap.

Surrendering to defeat, Kenzie and I started on our French Toast making. It took some time getting used to cooking on a charcoal stove, but we succeeded and our teammates gave the final ruling as delicious! YES!

In Iganga today, we are heading back to K2 soon. I hope we'll be victorious over the rats tonight.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dancin' in the Rain

Yay for the weekend! We had some other interns come visit today in Kasambika 2. It was fun to see some familiar faces. With 8 new faces, the kids still came by to hang out and I ended up playing with them for most of the time. Guster made me a bouquet of flowers today. Batale and Robert came by to play some cards. Then Batale and Robert took us for bike rides around the village! It was so much fun sitting on the back of the bike saying "Jambo!" and trying hard not to scream every time we hit a dip or a bump. The people we passed by just laughed and pointed while we rode by. When I came back from the bike ride, someone threw the football out and a game started. It went on for awhile...until the rain came.

At first, it was just some sprinkles so we kept playing. Then it started coming down harder and a few of us still tried to play while others took refuge under our roof at the porch. I tried to stay as long as possible, but then the monsoon came. At this point, everyone (kids and interns) were all huddled on the porch hiding from the rain. The kids started to use the runoff rain from the roof to wash their hands and sing the song at the same time. Then Trisa yells over the noisy rain "Esther, let's dance in the rain!"

Immediately, I jumped from the porch and started twirling and jumping in the rain, dancing my heart out. Other interns came down to dance and the kids soon followed. We kicked at the puddles, ran down the street, and chased each other, slipping and falling all the while. It was glorious.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Impromptu Team Trip

We had quite the lazy day today. With no need to do baseline surveys, we just chilled around the house until after lunch when we planned the specifics of our malaria education session for next Tuesday. We worked on some posters, a skit, and the details of malaria. Using their makeshift football, we played keep away with the kids until our boda bodas came for our team trip!

An impromptu journey, we all traveled to Kaliro, a town much like Iganga in the next district over. We got some ingredients for our French Toast breakfast on Sunday! It was another beautiful boda ride there and back. We left around 5:30 and when we got back, we were riding under an amazing sunset sky with a sliver of the moon beaming over the rice fields.

When we got back, we had the quieter group of kids waiting for us - Samuel, Daniel, Eria, and Kabaale. They played with our headlamps, flashlights, and phones. We played some music for them and watched them rock out to Rihanna, Usher, and Neon Trees. After that, it was more Game of Thrones and then sleep!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Fish Eyeballs

We finally finished baseline surveys today! No more walking house to house in the hot baking African sun!
I made a bouquet of flowers for Guster today. As I went with Juliana to Nabitende, the local trading post, I threw the bouquet to Guster as we passed by on the boda. He caught it with a giant smile on his face! At Nabitende, we picked up some fish for dinner, our fully charged phones, and some lesus (they look like scarves that women wear around their waists). It was beautiful riding on a boda boda as the sun was setting. The sky was a beautiful pink and purple canvas.

I came back to find the regular kids at our porch. Reagan, who's 12, and I held up my lesu and the smaller kids jumped and danced underneath it. As we said goodbye, they pulled on my wrist to take me back to their house. Nesse (rhymes with Messi), Said (pronounced Sigh-E-D), and Batale all have death grips I swear!

With fish for dinner tonight, I had fish eyeballs for the first time! It's pretty slimy, but tasty!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Game of Thrones

Today, we met with the head nurse at the health center and took a tour. It's a very small place with not much staff and very dilapidated rooms and beds. The nurse seemed tired, but she was nice and helped us out. We were able to set up an HIV Testing Day and discuss the possibility of a deworming day at the school. After the visit, we came back to the house for a nice hefty lunch to set us full and ready for 3 hours of baseline surveys in the hot sun. This time, both of our teams worked in the same zone. Though it was slightly confusing with numbering the houses, we managed to finish up our zone minus a few houses (where no one was home). Hopefully, with a full day of baseline tomorrow, we'll be finished entirely!

After the 30 minute trek back home, we had a few moments of relaxation before the kids rushed over. As Robert pulled up on his bicycle, I came out with the deck of cards and soon enough, Batale swung by and we had ourselves a nice game going. The younger kids brought their makeshift football considering we couldn't play yesterday with the standard size. After a few rounds of cards, Andrew discovered from the kids that Kabaale James wasn't home so I ran inside to grab the ball and the football game started once more. Their smiles just make me so happy. I told Isaac that I had this small fear that a kid who didn't eat enough for the day would play and end up fainting from malnutrition. But he told me that football probably gets their mind off of hunger. That made me feel slightly better for defying our 77 year old neighbor.

We didn't have a dance party tonight - just a few friends who shook their hips during the game. It was getting dark so I took out my headlamp and all the kids ended up playing with it. After saying good night to the kids, we had dinner, which was really good. We had chicken, cabbage, rice, avocado, sweet potatoes, and watermelon. Post-dinner, I engrossed myself in Game of Thrones. It's getting so good. Just passed the Red Wedding....

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


We had our second hand-washing school visit today. We taught and sang the song to the younger kids while the older ones helped build the tippy taps. I noticed when the younger kids were dismissed from us, the teachers were not calling them back to go back to learning new topics. It made me a little sad to see that the teachers were somewhat unmotivated. It's definitely a hard job with little pay, but it's still surprising and frustrating.

After a long day at the school, we came back for a nice lunch and planned for our malaria education session next week! The regular kids came by, but we didn't play football today to respect the wishes of the old grumpkins Kabaale that lives across the street. So today, we just played cards and had a mini dance party. Oh! I almost forgot, the best thing happened today. One of the younger boys, Guster who is 6, came up and gave me a handful of flowers! It was so adorable I almost cried on the spot. Who's kidding? For those of you who know me, I did cry... and I'm proud of it.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Today was a fairly relaxing day. While the team leaders (Juliana and Trisa) went into Iganga Town for their weekly meeting, the rest of us took up baseline survey again. We started a new zone and got about 13 houses finished in 2 hours. Many of the children hadn't seen us in this part of the village so we had quite the caravan after awhile, but it didn't bother me. That is, until we noticed that a lot of the kids had ringworm... It was on their heads and faces. It was really sad and disturbing to see; I just hope that we can put on a de-worming day for the kids in the village.

As we walked back under a cloudy sky (which was thankfully the weather the entire time we did baseline), a couple of boda boda friends picked us up and took us home, saving us some 15-20 extra minutes of walking. When we got back, I learned a new card game with the kids and played with them for some time.

Later, we met with the Kasambika 1 team to plan our school visit tomorrow to build tippy taps and teach the hand-washing song. It was a very short meeting so we started the football game earlier than usual. With all the kids sitting around, waiting for the ball and staring at the new muzungus, it was easy to set the teams and start playing. As the game came to end, we had another big dance circle party to finish the night off.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Chapatti Sunday

First thing's first, Happy Birthday Dad! I hope it was wonderful! 

Unfortunately, I didn't have that many adventures this weekend, but I did make a lot of memories! The first was Issac making chapatti! Yumm. Flour, oil, salt, water, carrots & onions is all you need. Matched with peas, that was lunch! It was delicioso! (But I forgot to take a picture of the completed masterpiece....sorry!)

 The usual football game started earlier today around mid-day. While the older kids played, I made paper airplanes for the younger ones. But surprisingly, that attracted the attention of the older kids too. It was nice to see everyone throwing them around, but after awhile, we had about 10 airplanes on our roof. Then it was back to soccer, until our 77-year old neighbor across the street, Kabaale James, came out and told the kids to stop playing. They didn't listen to him the first time and when he started to come towards the house, all I read was some screaming and thundering footsteps coming towards me. One of them chucked the ball into the house and followed the rest of them, running around the back of the house.

Still, we had another game later in the day - a shorter one because out of nowhere, an impromptu dance party arrived. With simple clapping as the beat, the kids started to dance. Let's just say the kids of Kasambika 2 know how to move their hips! 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ugandan Transportation

Last night, Juliana told us her boda boda motorcyclist was in an accident on the same road we take to Iganga. A matatu had lost its bearing and hit oncoming boda bodas, killing 3 of them. Another 3 died while the rest of the passengers in the matatu are in critical condition. It reminded me of the high mortality rates that road accidents have. So on the way to Iganga town today, I couldn't help but think of the possibility of an accident. The matatu itself looked extremely worn out and was shaking the entire way to Iganga, but we had waited almost half an hour for one and none were showing up. My entire body was shaking along with the matatu. Though, it took us about an hour to get 20 miles, I was happy we got there safe. Transportation here in Uganda is easily accessible, but you must be patient. That's definitely a lesson I'm learning here. From transport to life in the village, it's slower than life back in a busy city. I think I'm actually liking it though. I think the hard part will be adjusting to life when I get back. 

Minus this trip to use the Internet, I'm staying in the village this weekend. Hopefully, I'll find some small adventures and meet some new friends. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Moving Along

Starting at 11AM, we had another day of baseline surveys today. With only an hour break for lunch, we worked until 5:30PM. Most of the houses we went to had most of the sanitation facilities we were looking for: latrines, wash rooms, and trash pits. Yet, we weren't so lucky with the mosquito nets. It's clear that we have to work on malaria education sessions and provide subsidized nets. It was a long day full of walking, but we were able to finish our zone! The other team also finished theirs so we only have two more to go and we'll be done with these baseline surveys.

Most of the team was wiped out from walking and being in the sun most of the day so we didn't have the football game outside our house. Instead, we played at one of the kid's houses. It was definitely a smaller game, but my favorite players were in so it was worth it. After I found out one team was losing 8-0, I had to step in. Our team didn't end up winning, but it is always fun playing with the kids. It was only when it got dark and the game ended that I noticed we had an audience. After meeting some new friends, I walked back home and then it was only dinner, some catching up, reading Game of Thrones, and sleep.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Happy 4th of July to everyone in the States! Hope you all are enjoying some nice fireworks!

Last night, we had two earthquakes! The first was post-dinner while we were all hanging around in our living room. It felt small, but long – at least a minute! The second was in the middle of the night. It was shorter, but strong enough to wake me up. It definitely felt a little like home in California! 

Today was our first day conducting baseline surveys in the village. We split up into two teams and worked in different zones of Kasambika 2. We walked house to house and asked questions about mosquito nets and sanitation facilities. Working from 2-5PM, we only got to 17 houses and considering there are about 270-300 households, we have a lot of work to do the next few days. As we finished our last house, it began to rain. We tried to outrun it for some time until we conceded to the thunderstorm and took shelter in a nice house. After some harsh rain, the mom of the house brought us hot milk tea and sweet bread! The bread was so tasty - it reminded me of a donut. What I would give for a glazed donut... Mmm. 

Coming home to a large group of kids, it was comforting to see a group of familiar faces after a long day. After punting the football to them from the front porch, they quickly set up their game. Today, I sat back and watched. It was fun to be a spectator for once. 

After we said bye to the kids, it was time to fight the rat. The past few nights, we've had these critters running around on the beams of our roof. Last night, it sounded like I was listening to a rat war. Hopefully, we'll be able to rid them.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Are Muzungus Necessary?

Along with the other UVP team in Kasambika 1, we went to visit Kasambika Primary School today to conduct some surveys with a group of students as part of our hand-washing program. As we arrived, I saw some familiar faces that play soccer outside our house. As I said Jambo (Hi) to them, they smiled out of embarrassment and ran off with their friends. We met the teachers and all of the students under a giant tree in the school yard. They even sang and danced for us! Afterwards, we began the survey with the students. The Ugandans from each team led the survey and walked around the group of students to ensure they understood the question and they answered in the right place. After trying out the first 3 questions, it was clear that most of the students were confused. It is at a time like this that I reflect on having international students on the team. With none of us able to speak Lusoga, we could only sit and watch as our Ugandan peers toiled with the survey. The combination of poorly worded questions and an inability to read resulted in our teams staying at the school for 2 hours rather than 1. Once we finished the survey, we said our thanks to the teachers and the students and headed home. Hopefully our visit to the school next week won’t be so disastrous. On our way back, we were followed by a convoy of students and even walked all the way back with some of our football kids. I’m slowly learning Lusoga from some of them!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Tippy Tapping!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already July! It’s been a full week here in Kasambika 2, Uganda and I’m loving every minute of it. Today was a non-work day since we worked on Saturday. All the girls minus me went into Iganga town while I stayed behind with the boys to relax at home. So we began building the tippy tap! But it was more like watching Papa Issac build the tippy tap. So here are some pictures of it!

The tippy tap is a contraption for washing hands cleanly. You just step on the pedal and water falls out of the jerrycan with no need to touch it! 

(Thank you Kenzie for the modeling!)

Sadly, there was no soccer today. We had to give the grass (more like the giant patch of dirt) a rest. Hopefully there will be a game tomorrow!