Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Inside the Villages: Four New Wells Commissioned

Earlier this month we formally commissioned four new wells. The first in Lubira is 27 feet deep and serves 200 households. Before the construction of this well, villagers in Lubira had been using a church well about 2km away. When that well broke, it had to be abandoned forcing people to walk even greater distances to fetch water wherever they could find it. Now Lubira has its own well. In Ibulanku there are two new wells: ‘A’ is 23 feet deep and ‘B’ is 11 feet deep, each serves 50 households. Villagers in Ibulanku are already remarking on a decrease in stomach issues there. The construction of the new well in Buyanga was the trickiest; it had to be dug twice. The ground there is sandy and the well walls collapsed. But hard core and piping strengthened the 11 ft. well and it now serves 70 households. At the commissioning UVP was presented with a bucket of mangoes and a rooster in gratitude.
Safe water is integral to overall health in the villages of Iganga District. A lack of municipal water infrastructure and dependence on contaminated water sources has resulted in severe illness and death in these communities. But by helping to construct village wells for nearly four years, UVP has helped more than 8,400 people gain access to safe water and live healthier lives.
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Sujal Parikh Social Justice Fellow Cat Kirk in her own words

I am a master’s student from the University of Michigan School of Public Health where I am studying Health Behavior and Health Education. My area of interest is global health with an emphasis on HIV prevention, awareness, and stigma reduction. I became interested in global health as a WorldTeach volunteer in Namibia, where I saw firsthand the devastating toll of HIV/AIDS and have been actively involved in HIV/AIDS advocacy as a chairperson of the World AIDS Week Committee at the University of Michigan. The Sujal Parikh Social Justice Fellowship is an incredible, and necessary, opportunity to gain a better understanding of the health needs of elderly villagers and particularly their perceptions of the impact HIV/AIDS has on their lives. The elderly are a frequently overlooked population in the prevention of HIV/AIDS. And I am hopeful that through researching the needs of the elderly, Uganda Village Project will be better able to meet the health needs of elderly villagers and provide HIV/AIDS prevention programs that will be appropriate for this age group. I am honored to carry out this work with Uganda Village Project in the memory of Sujal Parikh, who was an inspiration in his dedication to global health and social justice.

Cat Kirk is the first person awarded the Sujal Parikh Social Justice Fellowship; she will begin her work involving HIV/AIDS and the elderly this summer. Sujal Parikh was a medical student, AIDS researcher, and tireless advocate for global health and social justice.
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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Inside the Villages: HIV testing in Buwolmera

Forty-five-year-old Monica lives in Buwolmera, one of our Healthy Villages. When her husband heard that UVP would be conducting HIV testing, he declared it a day for “knowing our status.” He said that Monica and her co-wife should ignore tending the garden for the afternoon and instead participate with him in UVP’s HIV and syphilis testing day in the village.
Monica was excited that her husband was supportive and that he had encouraged both of his wives to go for testing. Most of all, she was happy to have the opportunity to know her status. She says the importance of testing is critical especially in a marriage where a husband has multiple wives. That’s because there is an extremely high risk of infection in polygamous settings.
In Uganda, new HIV/AIDS infections are very high among married people. Polygamy has been cited by the Uganda AIDS Commission as the cause of a recent increase in HIV/AIDS rates. Multiple sexual relationships spread infection. Monogamous marriages with extra-marital sexual partners contribute 46% of the new infections.
--by Maureen Nakalinzi

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