Thursday, December 14, 2017

She Can Be Both: Farmer and “Musawo”

By Tulibagenyi Patrick, Program Manager, WASH

Her hands are dirty, but not because she hasn’t washed them recently. She’s been working in her garden all morning, like she does almost every day, weeding, pruning, and caring for her small crop. Catherine Namatende from Muira village is a sustenance farmer; she grows food for her family to eat and a little more to sell to cover life’s typical expenses such as health care and school fees. Staying healthy is important to Catherine; if she is too sick to work or if she has to take a child to the health center, her crop can falter and her family can go hungry. There’s a lot at stake.

Catherine also acts as a Village Health Team member (VHT), one of five people in her community dedicated to spreading positive and accurate health messages to prevent illness. UVP works directly with VHTs like Catherine to ensure they maintain updated knowledge and provide support for the work they carry out in the villages. These are the first contact persons in the village and they contribute greatly in disseminating information about health related programs in the villages.

For the past four months, Catherine and her colleagues have been moving around the village talking with neighbors about the need for good hygiene and sanitation, and have helped community members to install hand washing facilities (also known as tippy taps), dig rubbish pits, put up plate stands, and, above all, improving or constructing latrines. In fact, Catherine reported to UVP staff recently that since June, 30 tippy taps have been constructed. More importantly, she notes that she has strengthened her relationships with her community members.

Despite the fact that VHT work is voluntary, Catherine is proud of the respect that comes with her title, and enjoys her new nickname, “Musawo”, or person with health knowledge. She is constantly consulted on health-related problems and she has been in the position to guide community members and also refer them to the health center for further assistance. Catherine is proud to work with UVP; through the training provided, she has acquired more skills and knowledge related to the health problems in her home and she shares her experience with her neighbors.  

Want to help us continue to support Catherine and other VHTs in Muira? Make a contribution and specify the WASH program. And follow us on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook to see your UVP family in action in the villages. Catherine's story has been used with her permission.

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