Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Beginning a New History with UVP

by Patrick Tulabagenyi, Program Manager

People passing by see us and stop to ask questions. And our group grows with each passerby.

We are in Namunkanaga village holding a community meeting to discuss some of the health challenges facing the village – conducting our due diligence before we commit to working in a community for three years. The community discusses several health concerns and asks many questions about how UVP works. It was at this point that Banuli stands to speak.

Nearly ten years later, UVP’s work in Luuka District still stands out in Banuli’s mind. As a former leader of a village in Luuka District (formerly Iganga District), Banuli worked directly with UVP to improve his village’s health, specifically through safe water. As he spoke, it was clear to me that he was well-respected in this village.

Banuli narrated to his peers about the positive relationships UVP forged in his previous village, relationships that affected many positive changes. He noted the new shallow well and the reduced prevalence of diarrheal disease. He smiled wide when he mentioned seeing many new tippy taps in the village as a result of the education his community received.

Namunkanaga is eight kilometers (five miles) from the nearest health center. Transport costs can keep a family from seeking medical treatment, so preventing illnesses is of utmost importance. Namunkanaga’s chairman stood up and stated that he felt the community would greatly benefit from educational sessions. The crowd nodded. The vote that followed was overwhelmingly in favor of working with UVP.

Following the meeting, the chairman showed us the proposed house the interns could live in. The community is very excited to work with UVP and pulsing with energy to welcome their visitors in June!

The interns are coming! In June, UVP and Namunkanaga will welcome our new intern cohort. Like us on Facebook and Instagram to see their adventures!

Not All Things are Sweetened by Sugar Cane

by Josephine Asio, Program Coordinator

At the time, she didn’t know that sugar cane could be deadly.  

As Ms. Kagoya and I chat on her recently swept veranda, we watch her two year old son playing under the mango tree. I sensed a bitterness arising as we begin to discuss her experiences with malaria more in depth.

Early in 2017, before UVP started working in her village, Kamira, Ms. Kagoya experienced complications during pregnancy. She was about 16 weeks along when she began bleeding. Because it was early in her first pregnancy, she had not yet had her first antenatal visit, so she thought the bleeding was normal, especially because she didn’t feel sick. “It all happened so fast that I didn’t know how I got to Bugono Health Center,” she says. She woke up at the health center to find out she had lost the baby. The nurse told her that she had high levels of the malaria parasite in her blood and that is what caused the miscarriage. The nurse also told her that she could still have more children, but she would have to change her habits.

Upon returning home, Ms. Kagoya and her husband began clearing the space immediately surrounding their compound. Sugar cane had been planted to the edge of the house and closely surrounded the compound, but after talking with the nurse, Ms. Kagoya now knew that sugar cane was a popular breeding ground for malaria. Because sugar cane is a lucrative crop, it is unheard of for a farmer to clear some area of the crop.

In addition to clearing the sugar cane and standing water, Ms. Kagoya and her husband located their mosquito nets and hung them. When the government distributed mosquito nets nationwide, there wasn’t much education to accompany them. It can be hot sleeping under a mosquito net, so Ms. Kagoya hadn’t taken the government distributed nets seriously.

The bitterness I sensed at the beginning of our talk dissipates to hope and passion. She doesn’t want others in her community to experience the tragedy her family did, so she encourages others to take the education UVP provides seriously. She doesn’t want a mother to lose her unborn baby because of a lack of knowledge. “Lack of information can be very fatal,” Ms. Kagoya tells me. And she’s right.

We are sharing Ms. Kagoya’s story with her permission. If you believe that prevention is the key to better health, join us in addressing key program areas in rural communities!