Friday, July 25, 2014

Bukaigo: Team Interviews

The Bukaigo team is up and running. We have gotten the hang of everyday activities and are learning more about the village each day. We participated in the HIV testing day and drama, gave a successful water and sanitation sensitization, and have a good start on our follow up surveys. Going house to house inspecting latrines, wash rooms, plate stands and tippy taps has provided an intimate peek into life in the village.

Below are short interviews of each of us, because we each have a different challenge and a funny story to share.

Amy and Dean:
Amy: Why did you come to Uganda?
Dean: To experience global public health work.
Amy: What has been the most shocking thing?
Dean: How difficult washing clothes by hand is.
Amy: Is this the first time you’ve had to do laundry by hand?
Dean: Yes
Amy: Tell me the story of the first time you tried. Actually, I’ll tell it:
He put all his cotton clothes and terry cloth towel into a basin and poured some water on them. The clothes absorbed so much water that he ran out and had to fetch [water] before he could finish his laundry. He is also lying in a filthy bed right now because laundering sheets seems overwhelming.
Amy: Tell me another funny story.
Dean: Sometimes to tease their little siblings, the Ugandan children will shove their younger siblings towards me and the little ones start wailing.
Amy: Why?
Dean: Because they’re terrified of me.
(Frank: There’s something in your face that scares kids.)
Amy: What’s the most fun you’ve had so far?
Dean:  Seeing Frank pout after losing at cards every night.
Amy: Frank, why do you always loose?
Frank: Because you all are against me!!


Dean working on the plate stand

Amy and Frank:
Amy: Have you ever been to the village before?
Frank: Yes, but not like this one. This one is way bad off.
Amy: Do you find it shocking?
Frank: Yes! The way people open defecate, don’t wash their hands. They don’t even mind not washing their hands.
Amy: How does it make you feel about your country?
Frank: Ashamed. Too much corruption.
Amy: Do you think you can ever help?
Frank: Yes, we can never lose hope. We can keep on dreaming.  
Amy: When you go home, will it change your studies?
Frank: Yeah, I didn’t know that open defecation was still going on in Uganda.
Amy: Are there other practices that surprise you.
Frank: Maybe, the health status is so poor. Safe water access is still so low.
Amy: Are you glad you’re here.
Frank: Yup. I’ve met crazy people like Dean.
Amy: Tell me a funny story.
Frank: Oohh man, about what?
Amy: Anything, your time here?
Amy: What about when I decided to try to carry all the babies of Bukaigo
Frank: Haaha, yeah, it was so funny. The babies are so comfortable with you, but so scared of Dean.
Also, I went rafting with the internationals. After paying 90 USD, I was almost drowning the whole time. I swallowed about 2 liters of water and the young American girls had to pull me into the raft. It was so humiliating.

Amy: Oooh, sorry. 

Frank working on the plate stand

Amy and Josie:
Amy: This is your second year as an intern.
Josie: Umhm
Amy: Why did you want to come back?
Josie: Because I am interested in public health. I love meeting new people. I love working with internationals.
Amy: What is the most challenging thing about working with internationals?
                Josie: It’s hard to know what to do, since you are dealing with someone from a different world.
Amy: Example?
                Josie: Yeah, sometimes you want to help, but from past experience, people don’t want to be treated like babies. Sometimes you want to do it for them, but they don’t want to be babied.
Amy: I think we all appreciate that.
                Josie: No, sometimes I think I’m over doing it and all that.
Amy: What have you learned most about public health?
Josie: You can create change if you talk to people. Because sometimes people know something is supposed to be done but they don’t know why, so you show them how to do it.
Amy: You feel like you are making a difference?
Josie: Yeah
Amy: Would you come back in the future for something like UVP?
                Josie: Yeah, of course.  
Amy: What is a new skill you’ve developed since being here?
Josie: Tying jerry cans using a rope, because last time the bore hole was close by so we didn’t need a bike.
Amy: Have you learned how to bike with the jerry cans?
Josie: AHH still trying. Oh my, that may take the two months. (Josie is very short, and although her feet barely reach the pedals she’s pretty good at biking)
Amy: Tell me a funny story.
Josie: When I’m passing along the road along to the borehole on the main road, the kids say “there’s that Busoga” as if they aren’t Busoga. They call you M’zungu and me Busoga. (M’zungu is the name for white people and Busoga is the name for people from this region)
Amy: What is it like when you walk with us and everyone is staring and yelling “M’zungu! M’zungu!”?
                Josie: Like a little celebrity. We can never get lost.
Amy: What do you think the next couple of weeks are going to be like?
Josie: I think it’s going to be fun. More sensitizations. We shall see the change from the end of the internship and the report the VHTs (village health team) give. I also think I shall be able to bike with the water.
Josie in front of the UVP office in Iganga

Dean and Amy 
Dean: What has been the most alarming change in lifestyle since you have been here in Uganda?
Amy: Probably being fed by a cook three times a day.  For some reason, I seem to notice someone cooking me food a lot more than not having running water.
Dean: What’s the funniest moment since you have been here?
Amy:  There have been a lot of funny moments at the bore hole.   When we try to load the jerry cans onto the bicycles and the bikes fall over, or someone falls off of the bike.  There was also the time when Ai and I were pumping water in the pouring rain and all of the kids were hiding and watching us.  When we were walking home, people kept inviting us in because we looked so ridiculous walking in the rain.
Dean: What has been your favorite moment?
Amy: When the two women came up to you and me on the main road at 7 at night and said “hold my baby” just so they could see a white person carrying it.  I also really like seeing the old woman who always comes and greets us.
Dean: What’s the best food that you have tried?
Amy: The vegetable curry me and you had at Soul CafĂ© in Iganga town.  We had been here a week and a half and hadn’t gotten used to this food yet. The curry was served with chapati and was so good.  Ruth (our cook) makes really good spaghetti and potatoes.  The eggs and pineapple are really good too, and the mangos.
Dean: Anything else?
Amy:  I really like our team.  The other teams seem to have a lot more energy, but it would be overwhelming to be with them all the time.  We get along well.
Dean:  What are your favorite reactions from Frank and Josie?
Amy:  I have a few.  From Frank, “OHHHH Man.”  They both say “You sure?” or “Are you sure?” when they are surprised.  You can’t really get the tone in the interview though.
Dean: Well just picture Frank giggling uneasily when he says ohhh man because usually he is losing at cards or in an awkward situation. 

Amy masters three full jerry-cans on a bike

Ai and Amy
Amy: Now that you’re here, what has been the most challenging part of the internship?
Ai: Getting used to Africa time.
Amy: What is that?
Ai: It means that we schedule things for 2pm and people show up at 3:30 or 4.
Amy: What do you do while you’re waiting?
Ai: Talk, mobilize, look at the surrounding animals, say “Hi” to all the people who go by.
Amy: What’s a new skill that you’ve developed since being here?
Ai: I’ve learned very little Lusoga.
Amy: So what’s the biggest challenge to learning it?
Ai: We rely on Josie and Frank a lot. And the locals don’t understand much English, so it’s hard to communicate with them.
Amy: In the next couple of weeks do you think you’ll learn more?
                Ai: I hope to.
Amy: So what is a skill that you’ve picked up, or improved upon?
                Ai: I know how to smoke a latrine. And it’s my favorite chore.
Amy: Tell me a funny story.
Ai: I fell off the bike at the bore hole - twice! The people at the bore hole thought it was pretty funny. And the bike also fell on me… with jerry cans… on my foot! I have the scar to prove it happened.
Amy: I also remember there being a bunch of children around?
                Ai: There are always a bunch of children around.
Amy: Any other funny story you want to share?
                Frank: Yeah, she failed to pee in the hole in the latrine.
                Ai: Yeaaahh, I have very poor latrine technique. But it’s getting better.
Amy: Is this experience going to influence your future career or travel choices?
Ai: I’m pursuing a certificate in international development. I’d like to work for a global nonprofit. This is experience in the field, and this is my first experience with data collection, so I’m excited about that.
Amy: Thanks.  

Ai making a poster for WASH sensitization

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Buvule: Watch the hand washing song in action!


Since our first blog post, our team has settled into village life, and we have been hard at work here in Buvule! We began our second week in the village by holding our third introductory meeting where we met with the local people to tell them about the programs we offer, as well as hear their concerns about the health of Buvule. After the meeting, we began conducting house-to-house surveys in order to evaluate if certain UVP programs have been effective at improving household sanitation and mosquito net usage. In addition to gathering quantitative data during the surveys, we have also been assessing people’s knowledge about malaria prevention, detection, and treatment. People have warmly welcomed us into their homes, and these surveys have provided us with a platform from which we have been able to educate the locals. So far, we have surveyed 160 households, and are soon approaching our goal of reaching 200 households in our village!

In addition to surveys, we held hand-washing sensitizations at two of the primary schools in Buvule. These sessions were a blast and were filled with games, skits, and the ever-famous hand washing song! We also held a family planning sensitization at the local health center where we taught over forty men and women about the importance of family planning, as well as the different methods they can use. The event included a drama, which featured lots of local children, and our very own Kyle Yoo playing a Ugandan mom. Kyle dressed in traditional Ugandan women’s clothing, and left the crowd doubled over in laughter. The sensitization was a huge success, and we were able to address many of the questions and misconceptions locals had about family planning.

Though we have been hard at work, we have also had lots of fun at home in Buvule, and in Jinja during the weekends. Every night we play with all of the children that live at our compound, teaching them new games and dances and showing them pictures of our loved ones back home. We have all fallen in love with the many animals that live on our compound. This week three goats were born, and we have thoroughly enjoyed toting them around the compound.  During our two trips to Jinja we were able to visit Lake Victoria, and raft the Nile River! The summer is half way over, and we are looking forward to all the work and adventures we are going to have during the second half of the summer!

Until next time,

Xoxo Buvule

Friday, July 18, 2014

Buvule: Snapshot of the first video!

Welcome to team Buvule! We have had an adventurous first week in our village (fighting off bats, rats, and flies!) and are excited to share with you all a snapshot of what has been going down in Buvule town. After a formal introduction by our VHTs (Village Health Team) we are ready to jump into week two and start monitoring and evaluating the health progress of our village through surveys. Our gracious team member, Michele, has used her savvy video-making skills to bring our experience in Buvule to life. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Namankesu: Using Partnerships in WASH Education

The past two weeks have been a blur of meetings, educations sessions, and activities for the WASH team. Our first community-wide WASH sensitization saw a crowd of over 60 community members. As the majority of our village residents are Muslim, we decided to have our sensitization at the largest mosque in Namunkesu with an ideal location in the center of the village and next to the community health center. After a heartfelt speech from the Local Council 1 Chairperson, we proceeded to address the main issues of water, sanitation and hygiene in the village: the spread of germs, the safe water chain, and the components of a healthy home: a pit latrine, kitchen, trash pit, washroom, plate stand, and tippy tap. We did our best to use a combination of methods including posters, visual demonstrations, skits, and storytelling to relay our message in a fun and engaging way. The skit, which was written by one of our Ugandan team members, was a particular hit among the attendees and drew giggles. As the sensitization went on, it was evident that community members were knowledgeable about WASH issues and understood the consequences of unhygienic practices. Lastly, we wrapped up the sensitization with a raffle where one community member won a free tippy tap which would be constructed by our team the following week.

A tippy tap is a device constructed from local materials that simplifies and encourages handwashing at critical times throughout the day. With a few stout pieces of wood, a small jerry can, nails, and string, anyone can construct a tippy tap within a few hours. The winner of our raffle provided her own wood and jerry can while we provided the string, nails, and labor. With the help of Michael, a VHT, and a local neighbor, we were able to construct a sturdy and aesthetically pleasing tippy tap which was constructed next to the kitchen; our hope is that the placement of the tippy tap will promote handwashing before cooking and eating food.

Here is a picture of the proud team, laborers, and the winner of the tippy tap.

The following week we began working in our second village, Nawansega, about a 3 mile distance from our house in Namunkesu. We met the VHT's of the village, nine extremely hardworking women, who showed us around the community. The village is so large that it had recently been split into two sides A and B, each with its own local council. To complete the village tour in one day we had to split into two groups, each paired with VHTs. One of our main priorities as WASH team was to observe where community members drew their water and the condition of existing water sources. we had a particularly interesting experience at one such water source which was a large pond. When we approached the water source there were about 30 people surrounding the pond performing a ritual. Those gathered around the pond believed that the water source was inhabited by a demon who made the water dirty and unfit for drinking. A local further explained to use that they were burning herbs and preparing to sacrifice a chicken to please the demon and make the water clean.

A woman drawing water from the filthy pond
Such instances show the challenges we face as a WASH team and the misconceptions of contaminated water that can exist in communities.

Based on what we discovered during the Nawansega village tour, we organized a community-wide WASH sensitization which was held the following week. Titus, a UVP employee, connected us to another organization called H4HD (Hope for Health and Development) which also focuses on WASH and specializes in building protected springs in Iganga. With the added firepower of our partnership, we were able to successfully advertise our sensitization to the entire community. Our partnership with H4HD is indicative of the relationships which UVP seeks to foster with the local government, community and other organizations to improve health efficiently and extend its reach to other communities. The subsequent WASH sensitization in Nawansega attracted 96 community members, all of whom were actively engaged throughout the meeting.

Our WASH sensitization in Nawansega

We also held our first school sensitization at Nabikoote Primary School. With a student population of 630, our team of six was faced with the daunting task of spreading knowledge of hygiene to the pupils while keeping order. We held this sensitization with high priority since children are generally more receptive to new ideas and susceptible to behavior change than adults. With grades 1-3, we sang songs about washing hands and keeping the body clean with added motions to keep the pupils entertained while using illustrative games and demonstrations with grades 4-7 to instill knowledge of proper hygiene. Our hopes are that the pupils of Nabikoote Primary School were able to digest the topics discussed and take them back home to their parents, families, and friends.

Through the multiple health sensitizations and interactions with the communities, we were able to see the resiliency of residents and the desire to live healthier lives. It has been particularly encouraging working with the Village Health Team members who are extremely dedicated to the residents of the community and to the cause of improved water, sanitation and hygiene. Challenges remain in Namunkesu and Nawansega, especially lack of access to safe water. In the coming weeks, we will be engaging in the more technical aspects of our work, conducting shallow well needs assessments for communities that have applied for water sources. In one zone of Namunkesu particularly, there is great need for water but the community was unwilling to show commitment for the addition of a well, evident by the low turn-out for their well application meeting. It is UVP policy that communities applying for a well must show collective interest and the desire to take ownership of the water source once it is constructed. This is to encourage local ownership of the water source so that community members can sustain and maintain their shallow well even after UVP has left the village.

We are excited for what the next couple of weeks will have in store for our villages and looking forward to working with the community and local partners to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live healthy lives. WASH team, out.

Bukaigo: Village life (pictures galore!)

Hello from Bukaigo (pronounced Boo-kah-ee-goh)!

The drastic change from superfluous American life has become more apparent every day.  Hardwood floors and lush carpeting are replaced with slanted, hard concrete and woven plastic mats that serve as both floor and furniture.  At night, playing cards replaces television as we all sit in a circle under the light of one light bulb or two kerosene lamps when rolling black outs take away the electricity.  No longer is water obtained with the twist of one’s wrist and the turning of a nozzle but instead requires a bike ride and extensive pumping at a well to fill multiple 5 gallon jugs that serve for drinking, showering, cooking, and laundry.  The hot steam from showers is now a view of banana groves, cornfields, wandering families of chickens, and a 12 oz. cup used as a shower nozzle.  However, the lush green expanse of Uganda and its friendly and welcoming people are an all-encompassing experience of village life.

Meet Monitoring & Evaluation Team 1:





Meet our neighbors:
Ruth, our cook

Some of our new neighborhood kids

People at the borehole

Our intern supervisor, Laurel

Our home for the next two months:
Our two-bedroom house

Our kitchen

Our washroom

Our pit latrine

What do we do?
Play frisbee

Do laundry

Fetch Water

Play cards

Play a lot of cards (even when the lights go out)

Some of the animals we get to see:
Goats on our doorstep

Toads (called torts) that come out at night. One came into our house after a heavy rain. After Ai found him chilling in a corner, Amy kindly removed him from the house.

A chameleon in our front yard. He had a strange walk as you can see from the photo. Maybe he was playing dead?

A newborn calf. His umbilical cord was still attached

Baby chicks

Things we did during Week 1:

Had a meeting with members of the village health team

Toured our village

Get serenaded by some locals when we did our community mapping

Mobilized for our community meeting

Get rained out while mapping the village and had to seek shelter at a villager’s home

Built latrine covers

Until next time!

Monday, July 14, 2014

WASH team: helping to solve water challenges

We, the UVP WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) team, are a diverse group with a wide range of backgrounds:

Jacqueline, from Uganda and of Busoga roots, is a team leader and has recently finished her final exams for a BS in Environmental Health Science from Makerere University.  Padraic, from Minnesota, is also a team leader.  He is a working professional with his MS in Biomedical Engineering from University of Wisconsin.  Craig, from Kentucky, is currently an undergraduate student studying Environmental Health Sciences from Baylor University.  Daphne, from Kampala, Uganda, is an undergraduate student studying Public Health from International Health Sciences University.  Jenessa is a graduate student pursuing her MA in Anthropology from the University of Memphis.  And, Joshua, from the D.C. area, is a graduate student pursuing his MA in Urban and Regional Planning from Virginia Tech.

As a team, we'll be working in three villages in Iganga District: Namunkesu, Nawansega, and Kinu.  Within these villages, our goal is to work with community members and leaders to address issues related to clean water accessibility and proper hygiene and sanitation.  Our relationship with the community will be one of collaboration, cooperation, and facilitation, rather than one of authority.  By the time we leave, we hope to empower these communities with valuable education, civic systems, and important networks so that in the future they will be able to solve water challenges on their own.

To help us achieve these goals, we will be working with a variety of partners.  Such partners include Patrick and Titus, UVP staff members, who specialize in water and sanitation work, such as the construction of shallow wells.  We will also work with each of the three villages' Water and Sanitation Committees (WSCs).  Each committee is in charge of maintaining an individual water source within the community, be it a borehole, shallow well, or protected spring.  Additionally, we will work with each village's Village Health Team (VHT) members.  These community representatives are trained to be the first point of contact for community members for health-related issues.  Furthermore, we will communicate frequently with the  District Water Office, the government office in charge of providing the materials for the construction and maintenance of all water projects.  Lastly, and most importantly, we will work with individual members of the community.

Our first week of work was very busy. We were led on a full tour of Namunkesu by the VHTs. we attended a meeting with the District Water Office.  We organized a meeting with Namunkesu's WSC members and VHTs.  And, we held a community-wide introductory meeting for us to formally meet community members.
The WASH team introducing themselves to the village of Namunkesu
Judging from the first week we've been here, it is clear we will be able to achieve some very specific goals.

One of the primary concerns of community members, WSC members, and VHTs in Namunkesu is a borehole which stopped working on Tuesday of last week.  Our goal is to connect community members with the District Water Office to facilitate a timely repair.  As a result of this broken borehole, other water sources are experiencing increased strain (both mechanically and characterized by longer lines).  Getting this fixed (and paid for by the community) would be a great accomplishment for our group and the community at large.
An inoperable borehole. We're working with the community to raise funds for its repair.
We would also like to help facilitate the construction of a new shallow well in the Budome neighborhood of Namunkesu.  Currently, some community members fetch their water from the swamp because the nearest clean water source is too far away to easily access by walking.  We have been speaking to community members, WSC members, and VHTs both in meetings and house-to-house visits about the application process for a new shallow well through UVP.  We will also begin a needs assessment for a new well as soon as that application is signed.
One of Namunseku's water sources, a protected stream
Within each of the three villages, we also intend to hold community-wide "sensitizations," or education sessions, on topics related to water, sanitation, and hygiene.  Specifically, we'll organize events in which the entire community is invited to attend, and we'll speak in detail about the "Safe Water Chain" (the proper collection, transport, treatment, and storage of water), the importance of personal hygiene to prevent the transmission of disease, and the great benefits associated with using latrines for sanitation.
Jackie is speaking (and Padraic standing) at our community's meeting of
Water & Sanitation Committees and Village Health Team members
By the end of the six weeks we will also organize a meeting for all of the WSCs from all three villages.  In this multi-village meeting, the various WSCs will be able to share their separate experiences, challenges, and successes, and hopefully work more closely together in the future to address water challenges.

Overall, we are very optimistic about the positive impacts that we can help create in the coming six weeks.  If this first week is of any indication of how busy we will be in the regard, then we will certainly have our hands full, but we are ready for the challenge!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Kasambika 1: First impressions

The Kasambika 1 team is hard at work getting to know their village and adjusting to life in rural Uganda. Their first post, with reflections from each team member, can be found here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kasambika 2: Jambo!

Learning how to live in Kasambika 2 has certainly been an adventure! Our 3 bedroom house has become a home for us. Pictures of friends and family decorate our colorful walls, fresh fruits and vegetables line the edges of our cooking area and the newly constructed tippy tap, trash pit and plate stand proudly represent our desire for greater health and sanitation measures as UVP staff/interns. Each day we are greeted by a group of kids who love playing with our cameras and often sit out on our porch awaiting us to come out and spend time with them. Even when we attempt early morning runs, we are always greeted by their enthusiastic “Jambos!” and their affectionate shouting of the term ‘muzungu, muzungu’ as a way to get our attention.

Besides kids, we are also visited  by a slew of animals. Village life can certainly have its challenges, when there are bats and rats in the latrines, frogs jumping around the house, and small snakes can be found meandering around. Thankfully, James, Andrew and Chelsea are fearless when it comes to exterminating the rat in the latrine, plucking frogs found near our beds, and killing the poisonous snake we originally thought was a shoe lace. We are also accustomed to wearing headlamps when the sun sets around 7pm, eating dinner by lantern light, and attempting to avoid latrine use until the morning! Despite no running water or electricity as we’re used to, we’re learning to be flexible in how we live (i.e., bucket bathing during the day rather than shower at night).

When we arrived in the village on Friday we were greeted by several Kasambika 2 VHTs. VHT stands for Village Health Team, a group of six community members selected by the village and trained by UVP according to a government curriculum. They serve as the first point of contact for health needs in the village, distribute some medications, and promote healthy living on the household level.
The UVP Kasambika 2 team with the Kasambika 2 VHT after a planning meeting

The VHT’s commitment to a healthy community is already evident in what we’ve accomplished together during our first week in the village.  After an initial planning session our teams coordinated a community meeting where we introduced ourselves and discussed our plans for the summer. Later in the week we conducted a SWOT analysis – an assessment of the Strengths of, Weaknesses of, Opportunities for, and Threats to the health of the community. All members of the VHT are committed to their mission and we are excited about working with them this summer to achieve the shared goal of a healthy Kasambika 2.

FUTURE STARS by James and Jiana


“Wasuze otya nyabo/Sebo”.........Bulungi nyabo/sebo”........”Kaale”...... omg this is about the only Lusoga we know perfectly. That's when you just smile and nod. This is our typical greeting that we expect throughout the internship. Our greetings and daily visitors have not only been amazing but allowed our team to feel welcome and part of the community. They have showered us with signs of appreciation such as kids climbing to reach the furthest of branches to retrieve the best quality mangos from nearby trees and the chairperson of the church purchasing an egg for us during an auction at the Kasambika 2 catholic church where we hold community meetings.

Speaking of community meetings, in preparation .....”Andrew, get out of the bathroom!!!, we don't want to be late,” yells Chelsea. Once the last person of the team is finally ready after running around in a towel, we finally hit the road. After the community villagers trickled in, we began our introductory meeting, kicked off in style with a series of leaders introductions before we discussed our UVP purpose here in Kasambika 2. It was amazing how much enthusiasm was bestowed upon the community members’ hearts to learn more about how to address the public health issues that are affecting their community. Their passion is fueling our team’s energy, vigor and commitment towards empowering the community villagers in improving their quality of life.