Friday, July 31, 2015

Buwoira: HIV Health Day

Hello again from Buwoira! We’re more than halfway through our stay in the village, and time is flying by. So much has happened in these past few weeks, including but not limited to: the implementation of emergency pee buckets, a team trip to Sipi Falls, the sickness and then health of our two lovely team leaders, and the (almost) mastery of our village chores.

But in addition to gaining arm muscle from lifting heavy jerry cans, we’ve also made major progress in completing our work in the villa ge. We’ve finished collecting follow up sanitation surveys and most significant change surveys, hosted a successful HIV day, and have begun focusing on conducting sensitizations in the community, including one at a local primary school.

Our biggest success thus far has definitely been our HIV health day. We were able to test and give results to 162 people for HIV and Malaria, not including children, as well as provide free Malaria treatment, HIV counseling, and immunizations for children. Ainslee and Fiona brought a group of children from our neighborhood to the event so they could get tested for Malaria, and shockingly, 11 out of 12 tested positive. We were heartbroken that these kids we love to play with every day were sick, but we are so glad that they were able to come, get tested, and get treatment. We heard from some of their parents that they have taken their full course of medication, and we’ve all noticed a change in their health as they play on our front porch. The youngest child, called Naka, used to sleep, cry, and lag behind the others, but now she is all smiles, chatty, and full of energy!

Deanna and Ruth watching drama group perform at HIV Day.
 Overall our event was a success. Not only did we test and give treatment to so many people, we also worked with an HIV drama group and completed our first sensitization on HIV. We’re so happy to have reached so many community members!

Ainslee and our neighborhood children, about to get tested at HIV Day.
While our work has been going well, we have also faced our fair share of challenges in the village. For one, we’ve all had trouble dealing with the tragic, sudden passing of our two beloved goat friends: Herbert and Sebastian. The two baby goats and their mother were eaten in the night by a wild dog, and now their brother, Godfrey, runs around the neighborhood alone. Hearing his lonely bleats has taken a toll on us all as we grieve. RIP to our dear friends.

Our VHTs have also brought some other, work related challenges to our attention. In a meeting with the five of them, they told us that they are often not taken seriously or respected by village members during their work. Many villagers are unaware of their purpose and who they are and question their authority when they tell them to make changes in health or sanitation. Our VHTs are essential and help to continue our work when we leave, so we’ve made raising awareness and respect for them a priority. During survey collection and sensitizations, we introduce them to the community and explain their role, making sure people understand their importance. We love our VHTs and continue to be impressed by their knowledge and hard work and hope that we can improve their position in the village!

With only three weeks left, we are all excited to hold more sensitizations and continue to make a difference in Buwoira. Between competitive bouts of Monkey in the Middle, discussions about food, and chapters of our favorite books, we’ll be mobilizing for our next education session, practicing skits, and making sure our local leaders have tippy taps. 

Itanda Primary School sensitization, interns teaching hand washing song.

Toodaloo—Buwoira out! Xoxo

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