Monday, July 2, 2012

Stories from the Field: "A Bittersweet Start" by Jake Friedman, Kidaago B

By Jake Friedman

There is no better housemate bonding activity than cleaning the house you're about to live in for the next two months. It was our first day in Kidaago B and after many hours spent dusting, killing bugs, and burning dried banana leaves in our latrine to relieve the stench, we were able to enjoy dinner as a family. This new family consists of two team leads (Alicia and Eddy) and two other co-interns (Michelle and Allen). My name is Jake and I have left my family in the suburbs of DC to start a public health journey in rural Uganda.

We were told during our Uganda Village Project orientation that moving into the village would involve being embraced by the villagers as if we were one of their own. In this great hospitable gesture, we would also have to adhere to cultural norms of Eastern Uganda. Wearing decent clothes, learning Lusoga (the local language), familiarizing ourselves with how to greet one another, and getting used to bucket showers and latrines are just a few of the changes we would have to make. We were also told what to do during a funeral, and unfortunately this was a dilemma we faced on day two of our internship. It was suggested to us that we attend the funeral and bring a small gift to show our condolence, because if it was one of us who had died the other villagers would attend the funeral also with gifts.

Even though it’s been a bitter sweet start, we have established house rules and started planning our HIV/ STI sensitization for next week. We have incorporated the new cultural norms into our family and we are ready for the next two months.  

Jake is a senior from Maryland studying psychology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. 

No comments: