Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy Graduation!

As students from all around the world celebrate graduating from university, UVP is celebrating graduations as well. UVP takes on new villages each year for our three year program called the Healthy Villages Initiative. During these three years we implement many public health programs focusing on education and outreaches. Our programs include family planning, water hygiene and sanitation, HIV, Malaria and obstetric fistula. At the end of the three year program, UVP holds a graduation ceremony. This is a chance for UVP to tell the community members about the progress over the three years and to thank all of our partners in the village, sub-county and district.

 In 2012, the graduation ceremonies consisted of a large community meeting where partners could give speeches and UVP could give an update on the progress over the three years. After evaluating this approach, UVP staff wanted to make the graduations a bigger deal in the community and to have a much larger turn out. Additionally, they wanted to use the graduation to provide resources for community members about how to access services after UVP leaves the community. From this discussion, the idea of having a community health fair was born.

At our graduation fair, we have tables set up for each of our programs. Each of the tables have at least one resource person that can answer questions. Additionally at each table, community members can access the same services that we have been providing in the village for the last three years. For example, community members can purchase mosquito nets and Waterguard, can be tested for HIV and women can receive contraceptive methods. We also set up a plate stand, a tippy tap and a mosquito net to conduct the same demonstrations that we do in our community sensitizations.

When we informed the local health centers about our plans for the fairs, they decided to come along and offer immunizations and deworming for kids and malaria testing and treatment because they knew the fair would draw a large turnout. Additionally, we partnered with Marie Stopes Uganda. They brought information on family planning methods as well as promoted their new free reproductive health hotline. We still have incorporated the elements from the previous year’s graduations. We have speeches from district and sub county officials, health center staff, village health team members and UVP. Also, a local drama group performs skits on each of health programs that UVP works on.

After extensive planning we have started having the fairs and I have to say I have been so impressed by outcomes so far. The VHTs have been so happy to be recognized at such a big event and it is much deserving after their hard work with UVP. The community members are turning out in large numbers especially for HIV testing and deworming. There is music and lots of dancing- a great celebration! Putting all of our programs together on one day really shows how much work UVP is doing in the communities. It is truly amazing how much we can accomplish with such a dedicated staff. I’m so happy to be a part of it!