Thursday, August 16, 2012

Final Thoughts: Potential for Change

By Matt Cognetti

Surveying and traveling to 5 different villages around Iganga, you begin to notice obvious patterns, especially a high prevalence of child measles. On about the fourth day of surveys, I couldn’t take it any more. This was about the 80th kid with measles. I just put my head down about ready to give up and cry.

“What are these people doing, why don’t they take their children to the health center to get their free vaccination,” I said.

“Matt, they’re going to be alright, they’ll figure this out. Don’t worry so much, the potential to help themselves is there,” one of the Ugandan interns explained.

That was in the middle of July, it is now August 16, a week after my internship program and now instead of giving up. I feel like I need to go back.

Basically to sum up my time there: I received some valuable leadership experience, got sick multiple times, and learned about public health and nutritional challenges. Besides living and working among the villagers my favorite experiences include, having the opportunity to listen, observe, and collect information, directly from the people. Even though language was the biggest barrier, everyone had an opinion to share, and was happy and eager to share their problems and solutions.

The opportunities provided by the Uganda Village Project were amazing. Working with the nutrition team allowed me to begin to effect change for the people of Iganga. Unfortunately though, many big changes could not be accomplished. There is so much promise in Iganga Town, and two months does not allow us interns to do more than really observe. That’s what makes me want to come back, the numerous insights I learned, and the great potential for growth.

Working with the UVP gives all interns a taste of public health work, and believe me a few found this type of work wasn’t for them. Overall this is a really amazing working opportunity that gives interns a chance to positively effect people’s lives.

Matt was a member of the nutrition team this past summer, interning with UVP. 

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