Early in December, all of the UVP staff got together at our office in Iganga to reflect on the past year. The takeaway? Things have gone really well in 2014 – but there’s still lots more work to do for 2015.
One of the most encouraging things was seeing the successes dwarf the challenges we listed. Staff talked about the great reputation that UVP has with the local government and in the villages. We have strong partnerships with government, schools, and NGOs: the district has started saving us HIV testing kits from their procurement cycles so we can test more people, health center nurses are collaborating to use our outreaches as opportunities to reach community members with other health messages, and we’ve expanded our reach on family planning thanks to partnerships with national NGOs like Marie Stopes. We’ve loved watching entire families come test for HIV, every member of households learn how to correctly hang mosquito nets, and reaching exponentially larger numbers of women with fistula education through the Fistula Ambassadors program.
We hope to build on these successes in 2015, and address some of the things that make UVP’s work more difficult. These include some Village Health Teams that are less active than others, ensuring that men understand the need for family planning and support our work, and ensuring that all village leaders have sanitation facilities that can be used as examples for the rest of the community.
Working in the rural areas of Iganga has its challenges. Sometimes we go a full day without internet because power is out for the whole town. Staff members travel on rough roads to reach our rural villages, often working long hours to accommodate village farming schedules. It would be easy to get caught up in the things that make work difficult. It was exactly the opposite as we sat and reflected on what’s happened in 2014. Our review of 2014 showed that great things have been happening in Iganga over this past year.
After the meeting, staff members pooled funds to celebrate the year in true Ugandan style: with lots of matooke, meat, soda, and dancing. We invited all the family members, too, and they sat and listened while we gave each staff member a special message of thanks for their work throughout the year, and encouragement for what’s sure to be a great 2015!