Thursday, July 3, 2014

Buwoira: Settling into Village Life

UVP's one and only Launch Team for the summer 2014 has finally settled into their new home in Buwoira! Let’s take a tour of what the Buwoira team has been up to for the past week.

After finishing the five day orientation with all the other interns, the Buwoira team hit Iganga’s market to buy food for the week (although we ran out of food by Tuesday-oops!) Keneth and Said’s impressive bargaining skills allowed the team to have tasty pineapples, mangoes, bananas, eggplants, tomatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, beans, and much, much more (it seems we are all going vegetarian-nothing like trying something new in a new country). The first picture is of Kenny  (our national team leader-and the best one out there) buying dodo (greens). The second picture is of Kimberly holding the dried fish we had for dinner Monday night for the first time (and the last time at that).

After successfully maneuvering the market, the team arrived at their new home for the next seven weeks. It’s a cute fix-up (complete with no running water or electricity—will we manage?) The first picture is of our front porch. This house has four bedrooms, a washroom, with a kitchen and bathroom located outside (bathroom meaning pit in the ground). The first day home we swept, unpacked, put up drapes, and spent our first dinner together under lantern light. We met Betty (second picture), our cook for the summer. She makes an amazing eggplant carrot and tomato stew! We met her two beautiful children Lillian and little Nicholas—but Nicholas is afraid of us (are we that scary?)

The first couple of days home we started building our trash pit (and thus finished a how-to video on how to build a trash pit—with a rap video starring our national interns, Said and Kenny, aka DJ Peacemaker). Building our trash pit took a couple days due to heavy rains—but we did it with a fence and all. This week, Said also built a fruit stand all by himself (remarkable!) and Kenny and Leticia built a tippy-tap (hand-washing station). The first picture is of the team with the finished trash-pit (photo credit—Laurel). The second picture is of Leticia and Manon entertaining the local schoolchildren who had huddled under our porch on the first rainy day. During these days, we also completed some fun (unusual?) house chores (have you ever smoked a latrine? The Buwoira team has!). Kimberly took a photo of the first time we smoked the latrine (with Said). The smoke, if you didn’t know, helps with the smell (thank goodness!), but the flies stay everywhere. The last picture is of the Buwoira team’s (well just Michael and Manon’s) first Boda-Boda (motorcycle taxi) ride into Iganga town—we missed the internet…too soon?

Now onto more serious topics. For the first official week into the community, the Buwoira team had introductory meetings with the village health teams (top row from left-Daniel, Timothy; bottom row-Miriam, Ronald, Sarah), members of the health centers II and IV, and did community mapping of Buwoira’s five zones-productive much? In addition, the team met with the local chairman of Buwoira (Peter Twekome). He was energized and excited about our arrival, and went out of his way to give us a warm welcome to the village. 

With all these meetings, the Buwoira team was exposed to the challenges the village faces – like lack of latrines, lack of education of disease prevention and the distance to health care centers. Yet with these barriers, the community still posses amazing assets and strengths –like a high morale and positive energy, especially towards UVP! What more could the interns want? Finally, on Friday, the Buwoira team had their first community meeting in which they introduced UVP’s project timeline to the community.

Our first week has come to an end. Here is a picture of the sunset the Buwoira team sees each and every day. For now, the Buwoira team will have a break and visit the source of the Nile in Jinja and come back reenergized for week two of the internship, which will include baseline surveys on latrines and mosquito nets, and a family planning sensitization on Thursday. Although at times the Buwoira team has felt homesick, they have become a family. And for those across the world missing your loved ones here, find solace in the fact that we see the same sun and we see the same moon. We’ll check in soon!

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