Monday, May 30, 2016

Welcome to our 2016 summer interns!

Summer is an exciting time for Uganda Village Project. New villages join the Healthy Villages program and continuing villages get a boost of excitement from international and Ugandan intern teams. We're thrilled to have such an experienced group of interns joining us this summer.

Akong Deborah
Deborah is in her final year pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science at Makerere University’s School of Public Health. She volunteered with UVP in 2015 and it was a life-changing experience. As an intern she is happy to educate and empower communities to adopt preventive measures for a healthy life. In the future she hopes to specialize in infectious disease. Deborah loves playing with kids, dancing, playing board games, cheerleading, travelling and meeting new people.

Atim Fiona 
Fiona's passion has always been to make a difference in the health care system of her country, especially in the rural areas. Witnessing health challenges has pushed her to achieve her dream of becoming a good and professional health care manager / practitioner and to use her skills to help put an end to the issues that are challenging health care today. Fiona is 23 years old, currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Health Care Management at International Health Sciences University. She comes from a family of six and loves being around people and is a happy person. When she is not reading or working, she loves to sing. Fiona would love to see Uganda achieve its MDGs and see improvements in health care. 

Louise Beddoe
Louise Beddoe is from Melbourne, Australia. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Health Science at Monash University, focusing on public health and community development. After completing her degree, she aspires to work with developing communities either within Australia or overseas, as she is extremely passionate about equality and improving the quality of life for all. Louise has had lots of travel experience, including the 4 months she spent in African in 2015. This summer she is looking forward to receiving hands on experience with how a non-profit organisation runs, and she cannot wait to engage with the Iganga community members and experience their culture with other interns along the way.

Sheridan Bowers

Sheridan Bowers is a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and is studying International Development, Spanish, and Public Health. Sheridan's love for traveling and development began in high school and she has spent every summer since volunteering and working throughout Latin America. Through serving on the board of Flying Samaritans at UCLA, an organization that runs medical clinics in Mexico, she has become more interested in the fields of public health and development. In her future she hopes to pursue an international career in development and global health and looks forward to exploring many more regions of the world. This summer, Sheridan can't wait to experience a new culture in a region she has yet to discover, and looks forward to all of the people she will meet along the way.

Jacob Casale
Jake Casale is a native of Redmond, WA and is currently a rising senior at Dartmouth College where he is studying psychology and geography with a focus in global health and healthcare systems. He loves to explore new cultures and learn how different communities approach health challenges, and is especially excited to return to Uganda to engage in community public health efforts after a visit two years ago that ignited his passion for international development work. Jake has also studied, volunteered, and interned in France, Germany, and South Africa (respectively!) and is planning to pursue either an MBA/MPH or PhD in clinical psychology after graduation. At Dartmouth, he has served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Dartmouth Apologia, Co-President of Christian Union, Treasurer of the International Development Forum, and has participated in multiple global health-focused activities. He can't wait to be in Uganda again and to build relationships with the community in Bufutula!

Megan Clevenger
Megan is from Chicago, IL. Currently, she is studying Urban Planning and Regional Development, with a minor in Real Estate Development at Ball State University. Through her classes she has gained insight to think critically and theoretically about community formation, sustainable development, fiscal feasibility, and structure revitalization. All of this, coupled with volunteer work, has led her to pursue interests in international development and public health in underdeveloped areas. Prior to this internship, she participated in a faith-based mission trip to the Dominican Republic, studied abroad in Germany and Denmark, led a group of students to endorse environmental conservation in rural villages of Panama, and promoted safe sanitation and organized educational approaches independently in Ghana. She is most interested in advocating for quality of life improvements abroad and wants to ensure that communities are organized and mobilized so that goals can be achieved. She is interning with Uganda Village Project because she believes that it is instrumental to provide resources and assistance to rural communities in order to build on current public health and community development initiatives. After graduation, Megan is looking to either join the Peace Corp/USAID or attend law school, while focusing on cities and land use. In her free time, she loves to play tennis, hike, and paint.

James Davis

James Davis is originally from Gainesville, Florida and recently graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. with a Bachelors of Science in Biology. He is interested in public health, medicine, and health policy and eventually plans to attend medical school. He is excited to get involved in working with public health at a community level and believes in the importance of being community informed in attempting to enact sustainable change. Above all, he is humbled to have this opportunity to work with the village of Namufuma.

Laura Färm
Laura is currently studying International Studies in Leiden University in the Netherlands, her main focus being African studies and Swahili language. She grew up in Helsinki, Finland but after graduating from high school moved to London, UK and from there to the Hague, the Netherlands. Travelling and exploring new cultures has always been a passion of hers, as well as sports and fitness. This summer she is excited about all the new people with amazing stories and stories that they have to tell, and can't wait to expand her world view and hope that after this experience she will see things in a new light, and will grow as a person. This opportunity to work with UVP is amazing and she can't express how grateful she is to be given this great chance.

Jack Fukushima
Jack Fukushima is a Public Health Major and Global Poverty and Practice Minor at UC Berkeley in Berkeley, California. Throughout his time at Berkeley, he’s worked as an undergraduate student instructor for a global health class, and served on the executive board of two student groups: Partners In Health Engage at Berkeley and the California Public Interest Research Group. Last year, he spent the summer in India learning about their healthcare system and observing physicians. He enjoys reading (A LOT) and playing guitar in his free time. Having studied the many different effects NGOs can have on resource-poor communities, this summer he’s most excited about learning first-hand the role of NGOs in global health and their net impact on the health of the communities they serve. 

Carly Herbert
Carly Herbert is a rising senior at Washington University in St. Louis studying Anthropology, with a deep interest in women’s health and infectious disease. Outside of class, Carly educates students about sexual health, HIV prevention and sexual violence both on the Washington University campus and in the St. Louis community. Additionally, Carly assists with the DOLF Project at Washington University School of Medicine, working to develop more effective testing devices for lymphatic filariasis. Further, last summer, Carly spent four weeks in rural South Africa conducting qualitative research on the impact of religion on health-seeking behaviors. After college, Carly plans to pursue an MD/MPH and envisions a career addressing global health issues and health disparities through the study of epidemiology.

Isaac Kakaire
Isaac is aged 23 pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and Social Administration at Kyambogo University. He is in his final year, graduating in 2017. He loves making friends, chatting, travelling and discovering new things. He is flexible, hardworking, reliable, self monitored and goal-driven which makes him believe that Uganda Village Project is the right place for his career development.

Kasaija Joseph
Joseph is 23 and currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree of science in Public Health at Nkumba University in Entebbe, Uganda. He is in his final year graduating this October 2016. Joseph's hobbies include watching soccer, movies, travelling and meeting new people from different places. He is a simple, fun-loving guy who loves to make new friends. Choosing UVP is one of the great steps in his path of professional success. The organization is public health oriented and willing to serve the under served people in Eastern Uganda through their interventions. Serving the community is one of his greatest aspirations and that is why he chose to study public health.

Dorothy Lee
Dorothy Lee is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health at Boston University School of Public Health with a focus toward M&E and infectious epidemiology in a global context. She received her BS in Biology from Purdue University in 2015. While at school, she worked on consulting projects with a health agency based in western Kenya. With UVP, she is most excited about getting involved in a rural community and learning about the logistics of implementing health programs. She also looks forward to experience the Ugandan culture and the challenges of living and working in a low-resource setting.

Luyiga Anna Mary
Anna is a student at Makerere University in the School of Public Health pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Environmental Health Science and will be graduating in January 2017. She loves playing badminton and making new friends. She is 23 years old. She decided to work with UVP because she is interested in helping people improve their health. Anna aspires to improve people’s health and will continue to find a way of doing that, either through an organization or a personal innovation. She hopes to one day pursue her masters in Public Health in New Zealand.

Carmen Lyon
Carmen Lyon is originally from a small town in the foothills of Northern California. She is currently an undergraduate at Washington University in St. Louis, where she is a Global Health major and Astrophysics minor. She is interested in women's rights abroad and how they relate to international reproductive health and family planning. Outside of her classes, Carmen plays on the club lacrosse team, is involved in the Kappa Delta sorority, and is a member of the Model United Nations team. Additionally, she is working on clinical trials for the biomedical company Epharmix. Carmen is very excited to be immersed in another culture, and she hopes to learn as much as she teaches. 

Bailey Miller
Bailey Miller is from Burke, Virginia. She is a rising junior, studying International Health at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. She loves meeting people and new experiences that come with traveling. In her free time she loves playing volleyball, singing in choir and spending time outdoors.She is looking forward to gaining some global health experience firsthand and meeting some awesome people along the way!   

Mulindwa Brenda
Brenda is a a 20 year old, second year student from Makerere University pursuing a bachelors degree in the Environmental Health Science from the School of Public Health. Her hobbies are badminton, swimming and watching movies. She is so excited to be among the chosen group for the 2016 UVP Summer Internship. She chose UVP because of the opportunity it gives for learning, especially through team work. She is excited to work with communities to solve their health related problems as we aspire to make the world a better place.

Mutawulira Ivan
Ivan is 23 years old. He is pursuing a bachelor’s degree of Environmental Health Science at Makerere University School of Public Health and will be completing his studies this coming year.  Ivan is passionate about public health and empowering communities to have all the tools they need to take control of their health issues. He interned with UVP last summer and it was an amazing experience. His hobbies are travelling, singing rap/hip hop music, making friends and hiking.  In the future he hopes to go to medical school.

Nabiryo Maxencia
Maxencia is 20 years old and a second year student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science at Makerere University.  Her hobbies include reading, making friends, sharing experiences, and learning new languages.

Nagudi Benaville
Bena is a student of Makerere University School of Public Health pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Sciences. She loves singing, dancing, travelling and making new friends. Bena is excited about the opportunity to learn more about community health sensitization and community engagement as we aim to improve the health of the people of Iganga. She is humbled to work hand in hand with her team as we work together to improve people’s health. Her career aspiration is to become a researcher because she loves solving problems and being resourceful. Bena also loves ministry and serving God. She is so humbled to be part of this program and can’t wait for the summer to begin. 

Namajja Solome
Solome is a 20 year old female student at Makerere University School of Public Health Pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science.  She has a passion for research, epidemiology, and community health.  She aspires to one day be an Environmental Health Officer of a Research Fellow.  

Nampiima Maria Gorret
Gorret is a 22 year old student of Makerere University currently pursuing a bachelors degree in Social Work and Social Administration. She feels very privileged to work with UVP because, as a social worker, she is interested in promoting social justice, society equity and social functioning of the people who are disadvantaged in terms of adequate social services. Working with UVP will give her an opportunity to participate or contribute towards the improvement of the well-being of people in Iganga District. She thanks UVP management for keeping the spirit of empowering communities to live more satisfying lives.

Nanyonjo Namatovu Sophie
Sophie is 21 years old and a second year student at Makerere University School of Public Health pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science. She is born again and loves people. Sophie loves working with people in the communities, improving the health status of people and being a solution to people’s challenges. She loves sports, singing, and dancing. She loves children and preaching the word of God.  She is interested in working with UVP because she loves community work, identifying different health related problems in the community and being a part of the solution. Her motivation is her love for people and the desire to be part of improving life for them in terms of health.

Rose Paneno
Rose’s passion for health has been greatly expanded by her experience at UC Berkeley. While she has always been interested in the health field, research in public health, nutrition and child development as well as volunteer work in a hospital emergency room, draws her towards understanding health on a community level. As a soon-to-be senior in university, she hopes to attend gain more public health experience and attend medical school after graduation. Raised in rural Sonoma County, California, she has participated in the SMART research program at UC Berkeley, researching the effects of the mass extinction in Lake Victoria on child development and nutrition. As a part of this research program, she has been certified in UNICEF Infant and Young Child Feeding Programing. In her spare time, between studying for classes in her Social Work and Biology double major, Rose enjoys playing music or hiking, fishing, and backpacking. Rose is thrilled to learn more about community public health through the Uganda Village Project. She looks forward to learning more from the communities and individuals she will be working with. By contributing to the project, Rose hopes to incorporate the skills she has learned in her classes. But most importantly, she knows she will carry the lessons of this summer's internship with her far into her future. 

Mark Paske
Mark Paske is a junior at the University of Florida who is majoring in environmental engineering. He grew up in the Tampa Bay area of Florida and plans on attending medical school. A passion for public health and a keen interest in international development led him to the Uganda Village Project. He has never been to Africa and is excited for the opportunity to gain knowledge through this rewarding experience. Born with an adventurous spirit, he enjoys skydiving, the outdoors, and fishing.

Lee Siegle
Lee Siegle is a rising fourth year at the University of Virginia. She loves traveling, eating, helping others/kids, basketball, soccer, Christmas sweaters, and spending time outdoors. She discovered her passion for public health after a spring break trip to Nicaragua, which has led her to major in Global Public Health and minor in Spanish. Last fall Lee studied abroad with Semester at Sea, and had the opportunity to learn about malaria research and prevention strategies while she was in Senegal with her epidemiology class - she's hopeful that this experience will be useful while in Uganda.  While at UVa, Lee is involved with her sorority and multiple volunteer organizations. This summer, she's most excited about experiencing an unfamiliar culture for an extended period of time in order to understand more fully the public health issues that are present in everyday life in a lower-resource area, and work to help resolve them through a "first-hand" approach.  

Bridget Whaley
Bridget Whaley recently graduated from Washington University in St Louis, where she studied psychology and global health. In the coming years, she plans to pursue a masters in social work and a masters in public health, with a specific focus on maternal and child health. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Bridget has always had a passion for exploring and helping others, which has led her to places like Ecuador, Jamaica, Ghana, and now… Uganda! She looks forward to both teaching and learning with the community. She is especially excited to meet the children of Bufutula, whom she expects to fall in love with on day one!

Yesigomwe Kennedy
Kennedy is 24 years old and a second year student at Makerere University School of Public Health, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Health Science. He chose to study student public health because of the zeal he has to help communities solve their health problems. He feels satisfied when he solves a problem for a group of people. Outside of class, Kennedy plays basketball for leisure and fitness and also does stand-up comedy.  He loves singing and dancing, and making new friends.

Not yet pictured: Kirsi Anselmi-Stith, Jacob Casale, Bailey Miller, Sami Strutner, Zoe Starkey, Allison Verbyla

Monday, May 23, 2016

A cultural role reversal

By Keneth Kaggwa, UVP Program Coordinator

The culture in Iganga rural communities is deeply ingrained into daily life and it's important to respect these cultural norms. Culture influences family roles, dress code, greetings, and more. Those of you who have been to Uganda have likely seen women and girls kneel down when greeting or serving men in order to show their respect. 

It was such an unexpected surprise when Mr. Muhamed Isabirye, the Chairman LC 1, of Kasambika 1 Village felt such joy and gratitude during Kasambika's graduation fair that he knelt down as he thanked UVP for the work we have done in his village for the last three years. "We will always remember UVP," he said, as he shared his heartfelt gratitude. Culturally, kneeling is not something you will see a man do. Seeing a Chairman (also called president of the village) kneeling before a large group of over 400 people hit the deepest parts of our hearts. 

This shows how receptive Kasambika has been toward our work and the readiness of the community to carry it on. We have no doubt that with such a leader, Kasambika will continue to make changes to improve its health. The Chairman was willing to break with culture to show his respect, and it gives us a strong hope that the knowledge and skills imparted in the community will lead them to create and implement their own health and development solutions.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A sixteen year old with an all too familiar story

By Ruth Musimbago, UVP Monitoring and Evaluation Officer and Global Health Corps Fellow

A few years back during my research studies in the village of Nabinyonyi in eastern Uganda, I made friends with one of my respondents, a sweet 16-year-old. Magarita had married at nine years old, gotten pregnant at 12, and developed an obstetric fistula after prolonged labour and her baby’s death. She was one of ten fistula patients at the medical centre where I spent a week to carry out research activities. At 16, Magarita was recovering from her fourth fistula surgery, and she lived in hope that she would heal. This was years before I started working with UVP, where I now hear stories of so many women and young girls with cases similar to that of Magarita. I am glad that we are reaching out to this kind of under-privileged population.

Fistula is a condition that affects hundreds of thousands of women, sadly 90% of them in Africa. Their stories, like that of Magarita, are ones that hardly get told. The tragedy of a fistula patient begins when she goes into labour. Try as she might, the baby won’t budge. Hours pass, days even, and her suffering continues. She is in a remote village with no midwife or access to medical attention. Added to her physical pain and suffering is the mental anguish of a lack of information about her situation. Most often in these situations, the baby dies, adding to her heartbreak. Then, her second tragedy begins. She can’t understand why she is leaking urine or faeces.

Her husband sends her home to her parents because of her condition. In some cases, her smell becomes so unbearable, even her parents put her out. She’s confined to a hut far from the house, sometimes having access to others only when food is passed to her.

Margarita was married exceptionally young, but child marriage is a problem in Uganda. One of the populations most vulnerable to fistulas are young brides. The impact of child marriage is devastating: these girls are robbed of their childhood, denied their rights to health, education, and security, and are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

I am inspired to share this because I can now go beyond conducting research about such saddening incidences and instead be part of an organisation (UVP) that is reaching out to people suffering such conditions. The amazing UVP staff, especially Loy, go beyond bringing women for fistula repair surgery. I believe that simply repairing the fistula injuries and returning women to the same conditions that made them ill in the first place would be self-defeating. Loy has helped women with literacy while they are healing from their surgeries, and reminds the women of their rights.

I believe that the outreach activities are the first step in the campaign to end fistula. It may take many decades before we finally eradicate fistulas in Uganda or broadly in Africa. But we need to start somewhere and, hopefully, this great opportunity to be part of UVP, whose central passion is improving access to better health services, will pave the way.