Monday, August 17, 2015

Bukakaire: getting caught in a downpour with Mr. Kiti

The last two weeks of the summer have been a blur. We have been so busy wrapping up our work and making sure that the villagers and our VHTs are ready to continue the programs once we leave. As our last project for the summer, we are working on the Bukakaire sanitation push. After finding out through our baseline surveys that good household sanitation was rare, we realized how important our work in improving household sanitation is. To educate the people in Bukakaire about good sanitation practices, we held a sensitization where we taught the importance of washing hands using tippy taps, drying plates on “standard” plate stands, and containing decomposable garbage in fenced trash pits. Attendance at the sensitization was great and people seemed excited to begin improving their household sanitation using UVP techniques and subsidized supplies.

After the initial sanitation push, we began “hands on days” at the houses of our VHTs and village Chairman. It is important that they have exemplary household sanitation, since community members look up to them when improving their own health practices. We spent two full days building trash pits, tippy taps, and plate stands as a team. Once their households were perfected, we were ready to move on to the general community members’ households!

For the past week, we have been moving from household to household in the village, promoting the UVP subsidized supplies (nails, wire, string, and jerry cans), to encourage villagers to begin collecting the wood needed to build these very important sanitation devices. Community members are so grateful to have our help, and we often leave with small gifts of gratitude, such as bags of g-nuts or maize.

Our Interview with Mr. Kiti
After helping Mr. Kiti build his sanitation devices, it began to downpour, so he invited us into his house to wait out the storm. While sitting on mats in his living room with about 10 village children who were also seeking shelter, we had a good conversation about his life and his involvement with UVP in Bukakaire. Mr. Kiti is one of the older members of the village, and he is very enthusiastic about UVP’s work, attending almost every event that we have held throughout the summer. He has a wife and 10 kids, five of whom still live in Bukakaire.
After growing up in Bukakaire, Mr. Kiti moved away from the village to attend Elgon technical school as an engineer and began his career in a coffee factory as part of the Lusoga Growers Cooperative Union. Mr. Kiti first learned of UVP when two staff members came to Bukakaire looking for a sample of 10 households to survey to determine the community’s need for UVP’s programs. He attended a community meeting held by these staff members in which they asked villagers if they wanted UVP to work here. He was enthusiastic to participate in the program because he realized that it would improve his livelihood, make community members healthier, and help the current community members to raise their children knowing the importance of home sanitation.

Mr. Kiti stated that UVP has made him a “people’s person”, since our community meetings connected him to other villagers and encouraged him to interact with others. He says that because UVP has helped him to improve his home sanitation, he will no longer be afraid or embarrassed to host functions at his compound. He realizes the importance of improved standard of living. For example, UVP programs have provided him with subsidized mosquito nets. After explaining how grateful he is that UVP has helped him improve his health, he recommended that UVP help the village improve access to safe water, increasing the number of boreholes and renovating the protected spring. The good news is that Bukakaire has two years left as
part of the Healthy Village Initiative, so it may be possible in the future! Mr. Kiti is “grateful to the governments of USA and Uganda for allowing this partnership targeting community empowerment”. He asked us not to forget about Bukakaire. 

We definitely will never forget!

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