Friday, July 8, 2016

Intern Dispatch: Namufuma

Jambo jambo from Namufuma!
   by Zo-eh, Jamessssy, Ree, Josephu and Ashy

A tippy tap in action. 
Jambo jambo (hello hello)! Our first two weeks in the village have been full of excitement, challenges, and new experiences. After surviving orientation and our first bargaining in the markets of Iganga, we moved into our villages Friday, June 17th.  Upon arriving in Namufuma, we were immediately welcomed by our VHTs (Village Health Team members) and neighbors and have continued to feel welcomed ever since. Our VHTs have even gone so far as to help us with building our trash pit and tippy tap, sparking jealousy from our neighbor intern team in Namunsala who spent a week constructing everything themselves. While it’s taken the internationals a little time to adjust to a completely new way of living (shout out to Joseph and Ashy for being such strong sources of support for the international interns), our newly donned “LIT HOUSE” (because of our single, solar powered light bulb in the common area) is feeling very much like home. The most memorable part of moving in was definitely our unwise decision to wait to hang our mosquito nets until after sunset…which resulted in a comical, hour-long battle with concrete walls, weak nails, an almost broken bed, and duct tape to hang our five mosquito nets, all by the light of a headlamp.  

Speaking of mosquito nets, one of our wonderful VHTs, Sister Teddy, partnered with the local Namunsala health center to get us brand new nets that we are extremely grateful for. This is just one representation of the generosity and concern that all of our VHTs have shown for us and our work with UVP. Whether it is Wakabe dropping by our house with jackfruit, Mama Esther and Jaja Flourence visiting us for tea every night to offer their support, or Peter helping us with our baseline surveys even after teaching kindergarten all day, their dedication is inspiring. They have a way of tracking us down no matter where we are or where we’ve told them we’ll be. We can be trekking through a cornfield on our way to a house near the edge of the village, and one of our VHTs will appear out of thin air. We joke that they’ve put mizungu trackers because they keep such good tabs on where we are.  

A gathering of members of the
Namufuma community.
One of our team expectations is that we’ll empower and involve our VHTs whenever possible. Luckily, they’re already so passionate about improving the health of their community that they’ve made it easy for us. While their incredible commitment puts extra pressure on us to do a good job with our work, it also makes us confident that when our two months here are done, the VHTs will continue to act as effective resources in Namufuma to ensure that our work with UVP is sustainable. The community is already interested in and appreciative of UVP’s work here, as we are constantly greeted with “webale emirimu” (thank you for your work). It is our hope that this interest will translate into high attendance at our sensitizations and extend into the future.

     At the end of our second week, we had the honor of visiting the mayor of Iganga District, (who is originally from Namufuma) at his office in town. We met with him and several local councilmen who expressed a shared passion for improving the health of the villages surrounding Iganga. As the first UVP intern team to meet with the mayor, we hope our meeting will be the first of many and will foster an even stronger partnership between UVP and the local government where each provides support to the other in their initiatives for greater sustainable development.

That’s all from Zo-Eh, Jamessssy, Ree, Josephu, and Ashy of Namufuma, muzungu bai!

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