Tuesday, October 14, 2008

2008 Summer Recap

Hello friends of UVP!

We apologize that it has been so long since our last update, but rest assured, a lot has been going on, and we can’t wait to tell you all about it! Firstly, let me introduce myself: my name is Kristen Shuken, and I am the new Program Manager for UVP. I am so happy to be working with this organization, and I really want to thank Matt for doing such an awesome job here in Uganda - setting things up for the summer teams and for me to take over.

Speaking of the summer teams, well, let me start there. This summer we had some amazing volunteers from all over the US. Arriving here early June, they took on some daunting tasks. We had four teams this year: Orphan Support, Safe Water, Healthcare, and Obstetric Fistula. Since they did so much work and I cant possible tell you everything, I will just provide some examples of their accomplishments.

Orphan Support:
- Made school payments for 95 students;
- Received pictures and letters from 91 students;
- Coordinated summer camp for students; and
- Conducted a review of all local universities for students hoping to continue studies.

Safe Water:
- Designed a new promotion presentation;
- Sold a total of 183 bottles and 12 tablets of WaterGuard; and
- Surveyed 276 households on their health and sanitation practices.

- Trained eye care community health workers to diagnose trachoma’s and cataracts;
- Developed a preliminary budget for a preventative dental clinic;
- Created a protocol manual for a pharmacy at the Ibulanku Health Center; and
- Conducted a baseline evaluation of the nutrition program at Ibulanku Health Center.

Obstetric Fistula
- Accompanied 15 women to Kamuli Hospital for fistula repair;
- Conducted outreaches in over ten villages, educating the public about fistula and working to remove stigma attached to the condition;
- Began school outreaches to create more awareness of the condition; and
- Organized and ran workshops with Traditional Birth Attendants and Local Counselors.

The summer teams this year were truly an amazing group of people! To all of the volunteers, I want to send a big thank you on behalf of UVP for helping us work towards our goals and sustainable development here in Iganga District.

A new project introduced by David Dinh, a volunteer from 2005 as well as our current treasure, also took place this summer. He is using the traditional clay pots and inserting a plastic water tap into them to better ensure water quality. This project has made a running start and continues to truly prove to be almost revolutionary in the villages. Starting with only 50 pilot pots in the parish of Kalalu has proved incredibly successful, and now we are working on manufacturing more of the pots within Iganga town. Our hopes are that with the use of the tap and the new modified pot it will reduce the recontamination of water within the homes.

The shallow well project is still going on strong. This summer we were able to accomplish four new wells in the Parish of Kalalu. Our good friends the Long family, whom also blessed us with a visit mid-July, made this possible. The Long family and some friends came and checked out our projects here in Uganda. It was great to be able to show off all of UVP’s good work. Creating these four wells in only two months taught us some valuable lessons about what we want to change in the following wells. For example, we have learned more on required depths and have thought about getting a water pump to help when digging below the water level.

We were also lucky this summer to be visited by a film crew from Santa Monica, California. Mark, Brian, and Greg came out here with a real vision on helping UVP’s work get out to the masses back stateside. Armed with two cameras, they spent a full week interviewing volunteers, following me around visiting our projects, and talking to the communities that had benefited from our projects. It was once again great fun to show off UVP, and I am so excited to see through the magic of editing what comes out of all of their tireless efforts. So, stay tuned to see a professional short film on UVP coming soon!

The film crew at work in Uganda

Of course all of these visitors couldn’t stay forever. The volunteers left at the end of July along with the Longs and the film crew leaving me in Uganda to keep their entire great work going.

However, it wasn’t long until UVP had another set of visitors, the Vassar Uganda Project. This team of Emergency Medical Technicians from Vassar College came with a laundry list of goals and objectives. Here are just a few:

1) Education. Educating the public of Iganga about various aspects of personal health care. Potential subjects are: CPR/first aid, proper hygiene, blood borne pathogens, and disease transmission.
2) Prevention. Preventative projects will focus on preventing the following conditions: Malaria, malnutrition, and death or injury due to lack of trained health-care providers.
3) Treatment. Provide supplies to local health care professionals, and fund the treatment for those individuals selected by the project (to be discussed in the sections hereafter). We hope to work in limited capacities with local health care professionals to learn from their experience and expertise, form a long-term relationship with them, and assess supply needs for an anticipated continued relationship.

As you all may know, once on the ground to implement a project, sometimes goals and objectives are reevaluated, and they develop into even larger projects. Such was the case for the Vassar Uganda Project. Once here, the Vassar team realized the dire need for an Emergency Response System. Therefore after meeting with the District Health Offices they began the gargantuan task of rehabilitating the Emergency Response System here in Iganga. To develop this system, they are hoping to form a partnership with Iganga District Health in which they are both responsible for aspects of the program. Now, the Vassar team is back in the US, but we are excited for their return to Uganda hopefully in January.

Now with these visitors gone, I have had time to focus on some of the more administrative aspects of UVP. We are close to being registered as a NGO in Uganda, thanks to Alison in the US as well. I have begun evaluating all of our wells with the help of Patrick, and I must say the feedback from the community is really great. I will write more about that when it is all completed.

We have also made our yearly change in UVP officers and Board members, and we are happy to welcome the new additions to UVP. Thank you to those that have resigned from their posts, as you all did a great job!

Well, I think that’s enough for now. If anyone would like more information about our projects this summer or anything else about UVP, please write. We will do our best to respond to you in a timely manner.

Thank you for all your support.

Tubonagane!! (See you!!)

Kristen Shuken