Thursday, July 16, 2015

Nabirere B - Settling into our home

Hello from Nabirere B! Three weeks ago I arrived in Africa for the very first time and so far it has been quite the experience, to say the least. In my short time here, I have experienced gripping boda boda rides, 20-person matatu drives, soccer games with local kids fascinated by the muzungus (“English-speaking people”) that have moved in next door, bucket showers, bore holes, prayer calls, consistent commotion from turkeys, goats, and cows, daily malaria prophylaxis, three late night village dance parties, one squeaky bat, and two burials. I have learned how build a tippy tap in lieu of a bathroom sink, how to greet both men and women in Lusoga, and (my proudest accomplishment) how to aim into a pit latrine. I have discovered the luxuries that are electricity, running water, and wifi, and have promised to never again take any of them for granted.

Our team is a diverse mix of nationalities, educational backgrounds, and personalities. With three Americans, two Ugandans and an Australian, we literally come from all over the world. Every one of us has studied or is currently studying public health in some regard, focuses being on maternal and child health, environmental health, social work, health education, and global health. We have all taken on our various roles around the house: Keneth, the ultimate Boy Scout and go-to guy for questions about village life and historical conspiracy theories; Lorna, who has a knack for attracting children from across town to be her minions; Ivan, our very own Lil Wayne who provides us with relationship advice and booty-shaking entertainment; Caila the house momma who keeps us all consistently hydrated; Nicole mastering her Lusoga flashcards and providing us all with up-to-date WHO statistics on Uganda; and me, I brought the Sriracha.

We started off the summer with a weeklong orientation in Iganga with the other UVP interns and staff. If I was to choose the single most important thing we learned it would be that we can’t get hung up on the things we don’t have here in the village, but we need to focus on how to succeed with the things we do have. (In reality the most practical thing I learned was that cars and boda bodas on the street will NOT stop for you, so jump out of the way if they are headed your direction, but I think the other tidbit of wisdom will be a little more impactful for our team’s mission as a whole.) We have already begun forming solid relationships with community members, and have started to recognize the specific needs of the village. There is a huge health knowledge gap here in Nabirere B that we aim to fill, and I believe our team is passionate about improving the health of the community long-term.

Next Thursday we are hosting a massive community HIV day, where we will be providing HIV testing, counseling, educational sessions, and drama performances. This is our first outreach day and we hope to have a big community turnout. We have already heard people asking when the mzungus are going to start teaching the people about health, so I am confident that these next 6 weeks will be exciting, enlightening, and successful!!

                                                                                                -Sarah D., United States

No comments: