Tuesday, January 31, 2017

From outcast to advocate: Janet's story

Janet has a list of names, and it’s changing lives.

Janet is one of UVP’s Fistula Ambassadors. We recently saw her during our Fistula Ambassadors debrief. We hold these twice a year to have the Ambassadors share experiences and personally check in with them about their work. This time, Janet brought a list of five names of women she has identified who are suffering from fistula and on the waiting list for the next repair camp. We asked her how she feels about disseminating information about fistula, and Janet said she’s more than happy to help other women understand the causes of fistula and how it can be avoided. In fact, she’s so passionate about this work that she visits patients at every camp to provide encouragement and dances and sings to make their stay at the hospital more enjoyable.

It's been a long journey for Janet to get to this point. In 1975, Janet had an obstructed labor and needed to be seen by a doctor. The health center was far from her village, and given the bad roads and their transport via bicycle, it took a long time for Janet to reach the hospital. By the time she got there, her only option was a c-section, but the surgery was unsuccessful and Janet lost the baby and left the hospital with an obstetric fistula. She lived with the condition for 35 years. She tried traditional healers with hopes of getting better, but nothing worked and she was isolated from her community. In 2010, UVP’s Fistula Coordinator visited Janet and assured her she could be repaired and rejoin her community. After 35 years of living with fistula, she didn’t take him seriously and ignored the advice, but the idea stayed with her, and after talking with a friend she agreed to try the surgery since it was fully paid for. The surgery was successful and Janet was thrilled to bring back the good news to her family.

Four years after being healed from fistula and nearly 40 years after first living with the condition, Janet was trained as a Fistula Ambassador. Her list of names keeps growing. To date, Janet has identified more than ten women with fistula and encouraged them as they traveled for surgery. Thanks to her efforts, other women won’t have to wait as long to restart their lives. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016: Review and Evaluate

By Kelly Child, Managing Director

During 2016, we held a lot of meetings at the UVP office in Iganga: staff meetings, partnership meetings, planning meetings, and, most importantly, SWOT analysis meetings. We used the 2016 - 2018 Strategic Plan, devised in 2015, as a launching pad to analyze and dissect every aspect of Uganda Village Project (UVP). 

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) is a simple concept where you take a topic -- or program in our case -- and evaluate each category. During these meetings, we would agree on our greatest weaknesses and best opportunities within each program. From there, we made small adjustments in immediate programming and started developing concepts for additional shifts. 

One of the most notable decisions is something that most people will never witness: a small shift in our human resource. We better aligned similar programs under one person, rather than spread between two or even three staff members. Below are some thoughts from each staff member on the current and future direction of each program.

Keneth oversees all of our Village Health Teams (VHTs) and the internship program. The two main aspects he is looking forward to is the increased accountability of our VHTs and continuing to professionalize our internship program. We’re aiming to formalize reporting procedures for our VHTs and continue development of the Global Health Leadership Curriculum to accompany our interns’ experience in the village.

Patrick will be managing all of WASH (Water Access, Sanitation, and Hygiene) in order to more closely align resources and approach this very important program in a more holistic manner. In additional to a more cohesive approach to WASH, Patrick will be spearheading partnerships. Currently, UVP utilizes partnerships from government and private organizations whenever possible. The fresh approach in 2017 will focus more on collecting partners for our Graduation Fairs and couple that with a farewell sanitation push, also executed by a partner. Patrick muses, “We really want to leave the village with a bang.”

Titus will be taking a closer look at how our HIV and malaria programs interact, specifically with data collection. “Consolidating our health package allow for more efficient data collection and education delivery,” he says. By coordinating our supply requisitions for both programs, we can assist the government health centers to operate more efficiently.
Loy took over reproductive health in early 2016 by adding family planning to her fistula program responsibilities. In addition to adding specific family planning outreaches targeted to men, we are exploring options for expanding our fistula program to serve double the number of women with repair surgeries.

From these SWOT meetings, we are better aware of where we stand and, most importantly, where we want to go. With your help, we can continue to strive to serve our beneficiaries better every year. We greatly appreciate your support thus far and are excited to share with you our future successes in 2017!