Monday, August 3, 2015

Bukakaire: A busy three weeks

What a busy three weeks we’ve had here in Bukakaire! After finally conquering our bedbug fiasco (“knock on wood”), we finally got the hang of the daily rhythm of village life and our work. Though baselines started off slowly, we quickly picked up speed; we have now surveyed almost three quarters of the households in our village! During our surveys, we also discovered three women with obstetric fistula, whom we will make sure to steer to the appropriate services and our sensitization on obstetric fistula. The villagers have been very welcoming when we visit their homes and have been enthusiastic about responding to our survey. We’ve also collected many spontaneous gifts of groundnuts (a.k.a. peanuts) and jackfruit in the process.

Overall, we’ve found that there is a general lack of sanitation facilities (tippy taps, plate stands, proper latrine structures, garbage pits) and knowledge of and access to family planning/obstetric fistula services. In the next week we will be starting a house-to-house sanitation campaign to tackle these issues. During this campaign we will be helping people build sanitation facilities using subsidized materials. We will also be holding community sensitizations on safe water, sanitation, hygiene, family planning, and obstetric fistula. We are very excited to begin because we feel that we can make a big impact in the community. This week we gave our VHTs a tour of the sanitation facilities we built at our house to provide some visual examples. Their excitement is definitely a good first step!

We also held Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Sensitizations (WASH) at two primary schools in the community. At first we were overwhelmed by the 500 children sitting in front of us and gathering by the tippy tap. However, at the end of the day, we managed to maintain relative order and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of knowledge they had about WASH. After we installed a tippy tap at the school, a huge crowd of kids formed a line to try to wash their hands with it. We also taught them a handwashing song in the tune of Frère Jacques, and now we are constantly greeted with that song when kids run into us in the community.

We also had our HIV Outreach Day this week. We were presented with a challenge when we discovered that another organization was also hosting a medical camp on the same day and place. Communication with that organization proved to be very difficult; after many efforts we still were still unsure, even on the morning of the event, about what services they would provide, how they would provide them, and how we would work with them throughout the day.

However, we’ve gotten very good at last minute improvisation and flexibility. In the end, everything seemed to click together nicely. We managed to test around 160 people for HIV and 350 people for malaria! We wish we could have done more, because so many people turned up, but, unfortunately, supplies were limited. In the beginning, we were also worried that the medical camp would attract people from other villages and use up our limited supplies. To help prevent this from happening, we and our VHTs worked extra hard at mobilization. We must have done a great job because the people who showed up from Bukakaire far surpassed the people from other villages!

Despite many busy days, we’ve also managed to squeeze in some fun! One weekend our entire team went white water rafting on the River Nile. Anna got thrown into the rapids 3 times, and everyone, except Diane and the Ugandans, got severe sunburns on their thighs. In addition, Said and Joseph had their first cheeseburger. Said said he “had a good time with the cheeseburger.” On Said’s birthday, we also had a bonfire where we roasted vegetables and squishy creamy bright pink hotdogs…”Yum!” Also, we milked a cow! Johnny laughed hysterically the entire time, and the man who owned the cow was very amused with our reactions.

That’s it for now! Tune in later! “Kalee! Mmm…”

Bukakaire Team – Anna, Brittani, Diane, Johnny, Joseph, Said 

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