Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lemonade for a Cause: Four-year-old donates lemonade sales to UVP

By Anthony Bui

On a warm summer day last year in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Graham, age 4, and his cousin Megan, age 9, set up shop on the curb in front of Graham’s house to sell lemonade.

But while most kids beam at the thought of the money they’ll get after selling lemonade and what they can buy with it, Graham was excited for a different reason.

It all started when Graham and his mom, Molly, were looking through “LIFE 100 Photographs that Changed the World.” Graham’s curiosity heightened on page 75.

“It was sad to see,” his mom said, “he was so curious about those boys and the child’s hands. I explained to him that those kids were hungry and that they needed money to help their tummies get full.”

A few days later Graham decided to have a lemonade stand. He and his mom talked and decided they would raise some money to send to those children. They went online and found the Uganda Village Project, and Graham decided that it was the right place to send it.

After a few hours of calling out to cars and making signs, Graham and his cousin brought in $35, selling lemonade at 25 cents a cup, along with rice crispy treats and cupcakes. 

Some days after the lemonade stand, Graham said to his mom, out of the blue, “mom, are those kids hungry anymore?”

“I said yes,” his mom tells us, “he was excited to hear back from UVP; it let him know that the money really went somewhere. I try to remind him when he has food left on his place, or when he really wants something that he does not need, or when he leaves the water running too long, to think of those kids. We are so lucky.”

A year later, Graham and his mom took the same book out. He saw the pictures of those same boys and said, “they don’t look like that anymore, right mom, because we sent them money?” Graham is thinking about holding another lemonade stand soon.

Uganda Village Project would like to thank Graham, his mother, and Megan for their generous support. Every little bit helps! 

Set up your own lemonade stand and consider donating to Uganda Village Project by visiting

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stories from the Field: Understanding Community Work in Kazigo B

By Emily Maheux

This week in Kazigo B, we felt very productive.  We started our baseline surveys, which consisted of introducing ourselves and our program and then checking the facilities.  We assessed the kitchens, latrines, wash rooms, tippy taps, trash pits, and plate stands of each household.  We found that most homes had excellent kitchens but unclean latrines and wash rooms.  We saw only a couple of tippy taps after visiting over 70 households but more had trash pits and plate stands.  We also asked questions about the needs of the community and consistently found that malaria was the most prevalent health concern.  Later in the day, after visiting the households, we were thrilled to find that three different families were building plate stands!  For those who might be confused, a plate stand is a two-shelved stand, made with sticks, which provides a space off the ground for dishes to dry and avoid bacteria.  A tippy tap is a small contraption with a jerry can that allows people to wash their hands without touching the jerry can itself. 

Another highlight was our community meeting.  The final attendance sheet read 125 names, including our team, which we felt to be a huge success for such a small village.  Our biggest challenge of the week was a scheduled sensitization at Kazigo Junior School, the private school in Kazigo B.  We planned three activities that explained the nature of germs.  First, showing how when ash gets on one’s hands and then you shake hands with others, it spreads, just as germs do.  Second, when salt is added to water, it becomes invisible, just as germs in water can be, but they are still present and capable of getting people sick.  Third, when oil is on hands, washing with water does not always clean it from your hands.  Similarly, germs often times need soap to be removed.  We planned and practiced for this sensitization but arrived at the school to find most of the kids gone and the choir practice starting.  Instead of teaching about sanitation, we enjoyed an exciting performance from the choir and will be very ready for the rescheduled sensitization next week.  Overall, I think we are starting to understand the nature of our community work and how we can best serve Kazigo B.   

Emily, Simon-Peter, Daniel, Corrie, Gloria, and Lauren are interns working in Kazigo B this summer.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Stories from the Field: Week 2 in Namunkesu Village

By Stephanie Ullrich

Hello everyone! My name is Stephanie and I am a student at the University of California, Berkeley studying Peace and Conflict Studies, Media Studies, and Global Poverty and Practice (GPP) as my minor. I am here as an intern in the Namunkesu village for my practice experience for my GPP minor.

My first few weeks in Uganda have flown by and so I wanted to take the time to reflect on this time so far.  After so many months of planning and prepping to come here, it is hard to believe that it is happening right now. And even before last semester, the time I have spent over the past 5 years dreaming about visiting Uganda could fill many, many days. As Peace and Conflict major, I dedicated many papers and research hours to the conflict in northern Uganda and this country’s development history. So to finally be in a country that has captivated my attention and imagination for so long feels like one of the greatest privileges of all.

I know the work here in our village will challenge me in unexpected ways, as it already certainly has these first couple week. I look forward to these challenges and even welcome them with open arms. I think throwing myself way out of my comfort zone like this is one of the best ways to grow. And at a basic level, I want to give something back to this community that is hosting us that will be sustainable and will improve their lives, if only ever so slightly. We are not the first volunteers to attempt a project like this, nor will we be the last. Poverty alleviation and public health education in rural areas is not a simple task, but I am prepared to engage in this work and at a minimum, be able to think critically about it.

I feel grateful for the people who encouraged me in the past to come here and try something new, and for the solid teammates I have here for support. When I got sick last week, my team was quick to care for me with some rehydration salts, Pepto, and check-ins on me. The sickness past quickly and by the end of the day I was back in business.  I think it says a lot that I am very excited when I wake up in the morning (with the exception of my sick morning) to work with my team and with this kind of work.

This week we walked the 20 minutes to the women’s group that meets on Friday mornings to do our first sensitization on the topic of Malaria. In this education session we pre-planned 5 statements to say regarding Malaria signs and symptoms, prevention, and net purchasing. The statements were either true or false and we had women raise their hands if they agreed with the statement. My statement was “Malaria nets can only be purchased from the market”, which was false because they can also be purchased from us/UVP when we are gone, as well as from their Village Health Team member net distributer once we get the VHT system in place in this village.

After the agree/disagree statements, we brought them through the 5 preventative methods that we had drawn on a rice bag: using an insecticide-treated Malaria net, clearing stagnant water from their household yards, using smoke to clear mosquitos, putting a little bit of oil where they know that water gathers regularly (like the village borehole), and using a mosquito repellent or wearing long sleeves in the evening. After this we sold the nets that UVP had supplied to us to people who were interested. And apparently news spread very fast in this village because throughout the day we ended up selling 19 nets in total today. It’s gratifying to know that this is a tangible success for our team, and that people in this village will now be increasing their chances of Malaria prevention because of our work.

Webale inho Uganda for welcoming me as a guest here during this wonderful summer!

Kiviri, Andre, Nabulime, Hally, Stephanie, and Theresa are all Healthy Village interns in Namunkesu village this summer.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mojitos Against Mosquitoes 2012 - Come join us in Seattle, July 26th!

Are you interested in global health and development, learning more about life in Uganda, or just meeting old and new friends for a good time? Then make your way to the swanky BalMar in Ballard on the evening of July 26th from 6-11pm, and see what the buzzzzz is about. Your $15 ticket gets you happy hour food and drink prices all night long, and be sure to bring cash or credit card for our fantastic auction! We will also have a specialty cocktail available- Mozzie Mojito anyone?

Mojitos Against Mosquitoes is a fundraising event for the Uganda Village Project (UVP), an international NGO based in Seattle, WA and Iganga Town, Uganda. Since 2003, the Uganda Village Project has been working with the people of the Iganga district to promote sustainable public health and development programs. We work directly with community based organizations and the local government to utilize local knowledge and maximize community ownership.

Learn more here!

We've also recently been nominated for a CLASSY Award!

The Uganda Village Project conducts a variety programs in villages in rural Eastern Uganda, and these include orphan sponsorship, HIV/AIDS testing, malaria prevention, well and latrine construction, hygiene and sanitation improvement, eye care, and obstetric fistula repair. These programs occur year round through the tireless efforts of local and international staff and volunteers on the ground, and projects are funded solely though individual donations.

Itchy for more information on the Uganda Village Project? Check us out online at and see you on July 26th!

Here are some more DEETails about the event:
- Be sure to bring cash or credit card for our fantastic auction!
- Come for happy hour, stay for happy hour, ALL NIGHT LONG.
- All the money from entry tickets and auction proceeds will go directly to UVP's programs on the ground in Uganda.
- Last year's event was a huge success with over 75 attendees, and this year we are sure to sell out, so get your tickets soon!
- Visit for more information.
- Want to see photos from last year? Check them out here!

Click for info and tickets!
Check us out our Facebook Event:
Tweet us at #MAM2012

Stories from the Field: First days in Kazigo A Village

By Lindsey Anderson

The first week in Kazigo A has been an interesting one. Both good times and bad. One of the first things we noticed was the interesting arrangement between our neighbor’s kitchen and our shower. The ventilation for the kitchen looks right into the shower! That could create some awkward situations…

Our house is right next to a school, so about 30-40 kids come up to our house every evening asking for “Sala.” We later found out that almost all of them are related. But anyways, they love Sara. She does gymnastic tricks for them like cartwheels and backbend flips and they love it. They laugh and cheer and even gave her mangos to thank her for spending time with them. Yesterday, all five of us went out and played with the kids and we exchanged songs. They sang us a welcome song in English that ended
up getting stuck in our heads for the rest of the evening. One of our favorite lines was, “we sank our god, who brought you here, on this great occasion, today. Welcome!”

On one of the first days in our village, Felix made a joke saying that one day we were going to have chicken and I was going to have to be the one to slaughter the bird. I laughed and thought to myself that that would never happen. A few days later, we were having chicken for dinner and Felix gave me the knife! We all went to the side of the house, getting ready for me to slaughter the bird. Felix gave me tips, Naomi stood back, and Sara had my camera, taking a video. The video ended up being 3 minutes of me hesitating and gathering the courage, and 30 seconds of me cutting the head off of the chicken while saying, “sorry bird!!” I never thought that I would have been able to do that, but I guess I had the courage in me.

A couple of days ago we all did laundry for the first time. Naomi laid out 3 basins of water: first wash, second wash, and rinse. It was so difficult to scrub our clothes! We all had sore legs afterwards from crouching so much for each article of clothing! Naomi ended up helping us a lot. By the end, we were all picking carefully which clothes we HAD to wash, and which could be worn a few more times.

Yesterday, Sara, Derek, Felix, and I took boda bodas into Nabitende to get some dinner to bring back because we were mostly out of food. As Sara and I were waiting for Derek and Felix to arrive, we saw a little girl about 6 years old crossing the street. As she was almost to the other side, a speeding boda boda slammed into her and she was thrown to the side. The boda didn’t even stop. She was rushed to the nearest health center, we assume, but we know nothing of what happened afterwards. This was a difficult experience for both Sara and me, one I’m sure we’ll always remember.

Felix, Derek, Naomi, Sara, and Lindsey are volunteers in Kazigo A village working on the Healthy Villages Program this summer.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Anxious, Curious, and Excited

By Gloria Tran

In the days leading up to my arrival to Uganda, I received lots of encouragement and admiration from well-wishers - family, friends and strangers I met on planes alike. I accepted these meekly, as my upcoming two months of "community development" work seems rather surreal in my mind, even now. 

Going in, I want to try to have a completely open mind to the challenges and experiences ahead, which is not hard to do, because in fact, I'm not sure what to expect. For this reason, I'm also overwhelmed by a striking sense of humility. Having no real previous public health experience, it's intimidating for me to think that I'll be helping an entire village community of two thousand residents halfway around the world to select a sustainable health team, for example. It's also just inspiring that such a community would welcome the help of volunteers. But like the UVP staff members and board have advised, to be successful, don't expect to know all the answers. 

Nevertheless, I know that I'll experience incredible growth during my stay here. Until a couple of months ago, volunteering in rural Africa was only something I aspired to - I never thought I would be here actually. I know this will foster an appreciation as well as serve as a solid starting point for experience in the public health field. More than that, the thing I’m most excited about is the opportunity to interact with the people of Kazigo Village B. I get to practice both problem-solving and being in a position of an educator, which is really important in a future of medicine. 

Finally, I'm anxious, curious, and excited about living away from all the technological luxuries we take so easily for granted. It’ll be different, and will take a lot of adjusting to, but I think it'll be a valuable period of mental cleansing!

Gloria Tran is currently a UVP intern. She did her undergraduate work at CalTech and will be starting medical school at the University of California, San Diego in the fall. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

First Thoughts by Returning Intern Alicia Majeau

By Alicia Majeau

As a returning 2011 Healthy Villages intern, I am amazed at how much has changed in a year, yet how much is still the same. To begin with, my name is Alicia Majeau, and I am an incoming Master’s student in the Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. After graduating with my undergraduate degree in Cell and Molecular Biology in 2011, I came to Uganda last summer, entirely unaware of what to expect. My travel experience had been limited to North America and Europe, and I had never been anywhere in the developing world. Although it was the most difficult thing I had ever done, it also turned out to be the best experience I had ever had, and being part of the support team for Bunio village was a truly life-changing experience. That being said, as fortunate as I felt to be able to return in the summer of
2012, I found that I was still faced with anxiety and trepidation in the weeks leading up
to my departure.

Returning to Uganda felt more like coming home than I ever expected it to, but coming back as the administrative team leader for Kidaago B presented a world of new hopes, expectations, and fears for the upcoming summer. I did not think the role of team leader would feel differently than that of intern, but already, I find myself feeling the weight of added responsibility. The village and living arrangements are also novel compared to my time in Bunio last year. I am both very excited about this and somewhat nervous. For starters, Kidaago is a new village that UVP has not previously worked in. I am anxious to see how this compares to my time in a support village last summer and hopeful that it will result in more interest in our programming than I found in Bunio, not a hostile reception. Our house is also shared with a UVP team working in Kidaago A, so instead of a house of six, we have a compound of ten. I’m glad to have the chance to interact closely and collaborate with even more interns on a daily basis this summer, and hope it will lead to more work but not more conflict. The group of interns that we have this year, though, seems to be a wonderful assortment of people with lots of experience in many relevant areas, and I am looking forward to working with all of them and seeing the further impact that UVP’s Healthy Villages program has.

Friday June 8th, the team leaders visited Kidaago for the first time. Meeting with the village chairman, who is also the deputy head teacher of the primary school and the Village Health Team members made me very optimistic for the work we will accomplish.

Everyone seemed enthusiastic to have us coming, and a brief discussion of some health issues that the village experiences led me to believe that UVP’s programming can definitely have a positive impact here. Currently, we are staying in a guest house in Iganga for orientation, and while I am having a ton of fun meeting new friends and preparing for our time, I am eager to move into the village and start pursuing the end goal of said positive impact. Although there will absolutely be challenges ahead, I could not be more excited about the upcoming months!

Alicia Majeau is an incoming graduate student in Molecular Microbiology and Immunology Department at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She interned with UVP in 2011 and returned this summer to serve as an Administrative Team Leader in Kidaago B village. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

First Thoughts from Intern & Administrative Team Leader, Andre Anderson

By Andre Anderson 

I just completed my first year of medical school at Brown University and applied to the Uganda Village Project because of my interest in global health and the opportunity to engage public health issues via a grassroots effort. Now, several days into the internship, it has been a whirlwind of events, people and feelings. I am reminded of the days just before I was scheduled to leave for Uganda. My friend excitedly asked me how I was feeling. I responded that I was feeling a number of things. When I discovered UVP, sometime in early November, I was enthralled. I imagined spending the summer tucked away in the simple serenity of a village a world away. I imagined the people I would meet, the villagers and the interns, who would probably form a lasting impression on my life. I imagined actively interacting with and addressing health issues in a country whose health problems have been well documented and publicized in many public health forums. For these reasons, I applied to the Uganda Village Project.

When I found out I was accepted into UVP for the summer, I threw a fist pump in the air of the empty room of which I was studying. In the weeks and days before the trip, the months of high excitement became mixed for the first time with anxiety. I think it stems not so much from regret but more so from the process of having to let go. All that defines you, whether it be the classes you attend, the hobbies you engage in daily or the people with whom you interact with will be interrupted not for one week or one month but for two months. As I sat in the terminal of JFK, I realized the necessity, through painful, of letting go of yourself in order to clear ‘space’ and accommodate the new sights, conversations and feelings that this experience would be sure to bring. In between New York and Uganda, I remained suspended somewhere between thoughts of home and thoughts of Uganda. By the time I arrived, it had been an emotional roller coaster but I found myself experiencing a deep sense of calm.

Now three days into my summer abroad, I am excited to see all that I imagined is slowly coming into form. The village appears peaceful and serene, the villagers and interns engaging and fascinating and the health problems very real and apparent. The adjustment period will take time and to be sure, there will be the ups and downs, but I’m happy to be here for the summer.

Andre Anderson is a rising second year medical student at Brown University and is serving as an Administrative Team Leader in Namunkesu Village this summer. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Kicking Off UVP's 4th Healthy Villages Program!

By Caroline Nyuguto with contribution from Anthony Bui 

This week marks the start of the fourth year of the Uganda Village Project's Healthy Villages program in Iganga since conception in 2009. The Healthy Villages program is an innovative, grassroots approach to addressing rural healthcare and public health in Uganda. Its goal is to improve the provision of healthcare and of preventative health education to underserved populations across the rural Iganga District.

We partner with the District Health Office (DHO) of Iganga, the Sub-County officials, and the local Health Center staff to target villages that have been identified by the DHO due to primary health gaps and needs.

This year our staff chose five villages that were identified in tandem with the health assistants and various district officials. We held meetings in each of these villages and  received community member support to improve the health status of their own communities. As a result of these successful meetings, this month we will be launching five new programs in Kazigo A & B, Kidaago A & B and Namunkesu villages.

To show and seal the partnership, the Local Council level-1 chairperson signed a memorandum of understanding with us on behalf of the community. Women and men in the communities celebrated with ululations and applause to show excitement for the upcoming summer.

With the addition of five new villages, we also look forward to the 42 interns who are joining us this summer -- our team leaders have safely arrived to Iganga, and several team members are arriving in Entebbe even today. In preparation for them, our staff have been working tirelessly to to prepare for the internship for the last 9 months. In the past few weeks, we have checked on the interns' new houses so that they are free of rodents, bugs, and bats, and instead, stocked full of stoves, mattresses, cutlery, and crockery.

The mood in the office is that of excitement -- the internship program is an intensive, yet rewarding, program that we undergo each year.

We look forward to having the interns around as they assist and engage in various activities for UVP, improving the health and economic development of community members, promoting public health in the villages of Iganga.

Caroline Nyuguto is the Assistant In-Country Director in Iganga; Anthony Bui is UVP's Marketing & Communications Officer

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Alumni Profile: Cat Kirk, former UVP team leader, 2011

Cak Kirk interned with UVP in 2011 and served as a team leader in Nakamini village. She has a Master of Public Health from the University of Michigan and now works at the Sexuality and Health Lab at UMSPH. 

Uganda Village Project (UVP): Tell us a bit about yourself.

Cat Kirk (CK): I just graduated in April from the University of Michigan with my Master of Public Health. In addition to enjoying my post-graduate school free time, I am currently working at the Sexuality and Health Lab at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. At the Sexuality and Health Lab, I work on several mixed methods research projects that explore sociobehavioral risk factors for HIV-infection among young men who have sex with men. Currently, my focus is on a project exploring young men who have sex with men’s perceptions of community and interpersonal communication regarding HIV/AIDS and HIV testing. My time at the Sexuality and Health Lab will culminate this summer at the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., where I will be presenting the results of my project. After my time at the Sexuality and Health Lab is complete, I hope to join an organization focused on health and development in Sub-Saharan Africa. My main interest is in capacity building and health systems strengthening. I strongly believe in the important role that community health workers can play in improving health systems in resource constrained settings and so my experience with the Village Health Team during my time with UVP has been extremely beneficial.

UVP: Tell us about your experience with Uganda Village Project. When were you involved and in what capacity?

CK: I worked with UVP in the summer of 2011 as a Team Leader for the Healthy Villages program and was also the 2011 Sujal Parikh Social Justice Research Fellow. As a Team Leader, I had the pleasure of living and working in Nakamini along with four other interns and another part-time volunteer who was studying development in Nairobi. Along with my co-leader, I was responsible for setting the work-plan for the summer and planning/implementing each week’s activities with the team. As the Sujal Parikh Social Justice Research Fellow, I designed a research project to explore the health needs of and impact of HIV/AIDS on older adults in the rural villages UVP serves. The project involved a lot of preparatory work prior to my arrival in Uganda and during the summer I worked with another UVP Healthy Villages intern to conduct in-depth interviews with older adults in several villages. I’m looking forward to presenting the results of my project at the International Conference on Aging, Mobility, and Quality of Life in a few weeks. While in Uganda, we spent most of our days out in the hot sun, conducting household surveys, mobilizing villagers to come to events, or holding the events themselves. There was also lots of down time when the villagers were out working in the fields in the morning. During these times we would discuss plans for future activities, use a GPS to map out the village, or just hang out and enjoy the children around our compound.

UVP: What was your biggest challenge working in Iganga? How did you deal with it?

CK: For me the greatest challenge was the language barrier. Since the majority of Nakamini residents didn’t speak English, I found myself very reliant on the Ugandan interns to communicate. This could be quite frustrating at times, since I really believe making personal connections with the community is essential to this kind of development work. I chose to deal with it by seeking opportunities to learn Lusoga phrases in order to be able to communicate without the presence of one of my Ugandan teammates. At times this included relying on school children or other villagers who did speak English to assist me. Just being able to inform villagers about our programs and answer very basic questions was important for team morale among the international interns and also was a great way to bond with members of the community. It showed my interest in learning their language and culture and this investment paid off in their returning the favor by coming out to our events.

UVP: What is your favorite memory about your time in Uganda?

CK: It is so hard to pick just one memory. There were lots of laughs and great times had while working and just enjoying the beautiful country. My favorite day in the village was probably one of our last when we did our sensitization on family planning. Access to family planning is an issue I’m extremely passionate about and so I was really excited when it was time to talk with the men and the women in the village about their options for deciding when and how many children they wanted to have. We had a great turn out and the men and women both had lots of questions, which made this probably our longest sensitization by far. It was so worth it to be able to talk with the villagers about the important issue and have them really engage with our presentation. Outside of work, I also had a great time travelling around the country on weekends and after the program was over. Sipi Falls and Lake Bunyonyi were absolutely amazing and I’d highly recommend them to anyone spending some time in Uganda!

UVP: What advice do you have for future interns/volunteers?

CK: The best piece of advice I could give to anyone joining UVP for the summer is to stay positive. There are days that will be difficult and frustrating, but if you dwell on those it will only negatively affect the other work that you do and prevent you from being able to really enjoy the experience. If you try to keep a positive attitude, others will notice, you’ll do better work and you’ll enjoy it more too!

UVP: How has UVP shaped your career today and what you aspire to do in the future?

CK: My experience with UVP helped to further strengthen my belief in taking a holistic approach to development. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with local leaders, school administrators, health center staff, and other NGOs during my time with UVP. As I continue in my global health career, I am excited to seek opportunities to engage other sectors such as leaders in economic development, education, and private enterprises in order to work together towards the common goal of improving the health and wellbeing of individuals living in sub-Saharan Africa.

UVP: Tell us about a time you used something you learned/experienced at UVP in your more recent jobs/volunteer experiences.

CK: As I am in the process of applying for jobs after graduation, I have been reflecting a lot on my work with UVP. I frequently use examples from my experience to demonstrate my ability to collaborate with others, conduct a needs assessment, and implement health promotion activities. I really value these experiences and know that when I start my next job I will continue to build on the skills I learned during my time in Nakamini.