Friday, May 18, 2018

The Terror of Training

by Maria Nampiima, VHT and Intern Program Coordinator

It all started with a phone call.

Ok, it was actually about a hundred phone calls. After all, coordinating 65 people across 13 villages takes more than just one phone call.

It was my first time coordinating the annual VHT training, and I was so nervous that no one would show up, that I would let my team down, and the villages would never be healthy. Now that I think about it, I may have made two hundred phone calls. With the help of other staff members, we curated the agenda, looking for opportunities to spice up the health information, a way to create excitement and motivation the VHTs could carry with them for the next year.

The day of training, we arrived at the venue early, and I remained hopeful and optimistic every step of the way. We swiftly readied ourselves for the training. The 9 am start time had arrived, and to my dismay, not a single person had arrived. I stood, unbelieving, at the front of the room, staring at the dusty benches, empty and mocking me. For 30 excruciating minutes I waited; I know our VHTs operate on village time (consider time in events rather than minutes), so I wanted to be flexible. I was cursing myself under my breath and racking my brain to figure out what I could have done differently when I reached my trembling hand into my pocket to retrieve my phone and make yet another phone call. Before I finished the first phone call, a group of VHTs had arrived and, after just a few more minutes, nearly all of our VHTs were occupying the dusty benches.

Seeing all the VHTs very excited and expectant gave me courage to spice up the training as much as I could. To ensure that they take ownership of the programs from the word go, I gave them a platform to take the lead during focus group discussions and encouraged them to present information to the group on the various program areas they lead in their villages. The zeal they showed indicated the participatory activities were well received and effective.

I want to thank our staff members in Iganga for helping to deliver such a successful training. I would also like to thank you, our supporters, for constantly encouraging our work by reading these stories, commenting on our Facebook posts, and contributing financially to the benefit of rural villages.

Thank you!