Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy teeth!

Who doesn't love to brush and floss their teeth? No one. But, some people don't have toothbrushes, and even if they do, they don't know how to properly care for their little pearly whites. One of our volunteers, Megan Richards, went above and beyond and asked her dad to send out some hygiene kits with second wave volunteers so that we could teach some hygiene lessons. We know that the paste will run out, and that the brushes won't last forever, but hopefully the knowledge we left behind will make a difference. We decided to take some of the kits out to Rose & Pauls and leave the others with the Andrew Lovell Academy soccer team. At Rose & Paul's the kids were delighted to share the lesson with us and then literally overjoyed when we distributed the little dental kits. After the lesson, we played "pata, pata, encoco"  (duck duck goose) and then taught the kids the hokey pokey. Another fabulous day in Buwala with some of the coolest kids we know.

Friday, July 2, 2010

African Safari at Murchison Falls

After a long and good work week it is fun for all of the volunteers to go on a weekend trip as a way to see the different areas of Uganda. This last week, many of us went to Murchison Falls National Park to go on a African Safari!

The first half of the trip consisted of a game drive. Our goal was to see the "Big Five", which are the lion, giraffe, elephant, rhino and the hippo. Our guide told us that it had been six days since anyone had spotted a lion. We must be doing something right because we not only saw one lion, but two! There were two male lions that walked right towards us on the road. They got so close it was actually kind of creepy. They stared intently at us and then sauntered off the road long enough to pass us and then they resumed their position. 

The other animals were found pretty easily. We didn't see any of the rhinos on the game drive becuase the only rhinos in the country are in a special reserve. When we visited the reserve however, we were able to get about 20 feet away on foot, for pictures! There have been three baby rhinos born in the reserve and one of them they named Obama because the mother was a white rhino from America and the father rhino was a black rhino from Kenya. Ha ha... they are so witty... 

The second half of the day was spent in a boat down the Nile. This is where we saw a ton of hippos and Nile Crocodiles.  At camp, we stayed in tents that had two beds in each. There were many warthogs, or "pumba's" as we liked to call them that liked to walk through the camp scavaging for food. All in all the day was a huge success.

Jessie Jensen signing off saying Waylaba... 


Monday, June 21, 2010

New volunteers just survived our first week in Lugazi! 8 of us arrived last Sunday and were put right to work. Hooray second wave! First wave volunteers have done a marvelous job of getting projects up and running. There are so many projects that we are working on!
I've been helping a lot with the disability choir choir that we're starting up. Its a choir for kids with disabilities or those who have parents with disabilities. While they are practicing for the choir, the adults will be meeting in the next room as a support group with various lessons and classes. Our goal is to help the children develop their talents and feel like they are part of a group. We also want to educate the parents on how to take care of them so they aren't neglected. I'll be in charge of coming up with hygiene, sanitation, health, business, and various other classes for each week. Our first meeting is tomorrow afternoon and we can't wait to see how everything goes!
Last week I also had the opportunity to help with the mushroom house project. We will be building the first one next week. There are seven villages that will have one and they each help each other build them. Once they are all built they are required to give 10% of their profit to Buikwe Village Care which is a group that also helps with self sustaining projects. We met with the village council and the people are so excited to start training and building!
I am now in charge of heading up our business training project. We hold weekly classes for those with local businesses and those who sell in the market to help them be more organized and potentially increase their profit. Hopefully we can continue having more people come to the trainings by word of mouth that way we can help as many business owners as possible! This project will make a huge difference in many lives.
Last week the team was able to finish two of the adobe stoves that they had been working on. We're trying to leave them with lots and lots of training so that they can maintain these stoves and build new ones when needed.
Peter from the HELP board of directors has been staying with us the past few days. He has so much helpful advice and insight its been great to spend time with him as a group and one on one.
I can't wait to continue working on these projects over the next few months! I'm grateful for the group of volunteers that are here and for all of their hard work and dedication to this opportunity that we have to help others.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hello, all you readers! Welcome again to this blog. This is Molly this week, happy to greet you and prepared to share our greatness.
The Lugazi team is rocking it this summer! I just love us. Everywhere we turn there’s a new success to marvel at: teacher trainings, elderly groups, business trainings, HIV/AIDS lessons, adobe stoves, mushroom houses, gardens… we are on Fire with a capital F.
One of our greatest successes thus far, in my biased opinion, is the triumph we’ve had with our Eye Camp. We started out feeling rather limited about the whole affair; limited funds, limited resources, limited patience… but we’ve had some recent good fortune which we are shamelessly taking credit for! First and foremost on the list of happy Eye Camp moments: we’ve got enough funding for a freaking stellar camp! Our friends at Sightsavers International came through for us at the last minute and hooked us up with some monetary goodness! They have helped us with so much and made things possible that we never imagined we could do. I won’t go into details about the moments after the first Sightsavers meeting, but suffice it to say that there was some jumping and squealing involved. Masculine squealing. Anyway, our camp is going to be magnificent! We’re planning surgeries and screenings at three separate hospitals throughout the area—all with barely-pronounceable names, so I won’t even type them out. They’re spread far enough that we’ll be able to help a broad variety of people from all over this region of Uganda! YAY! So with the greatly appreciated assistance of Deseret Int. Foundation, Sightsaver Int’l and local partners like The Youth Outreach Mission and Buikwe Village Care, we’re orchestrating the best Eye Camp we can manage. I can’t wait to start seeing people see!
Along with our brilliance at projects, there are always the unique Africa-related tales we’ve accumulated throughout these eight long weeks on the other side of the world. We’ve got some crazy-cool safari stories, we’ve got splendid tales of tropical island adventures, we’ve got epic sagas involving bungee jumping (Guess who is one of the two who went? That’s right, yours truly! BAM!) and whitewater rafting… our escapades amaze me. Not to mention the hysterical day-to-day situations we find ourselves in. Every day is such an adventure! Boda-boda rides, rainstorms that feel like they’re drowning you, parasites, giant spiders, people calling us heavy and telling us we have sideburns… it’s like Jumanji. Only better. What’s better than a Robin Williams jungle movie from the mid-nineties? OUR LIVES!
I think I’m out of time. I hope this is a sufficiently informative blog post, O Reader, though it is short. I apologize for the lack of photos. I am technologically inept; I take all blame for the dullness of today’s post.  Keep your eyes out for more from us!
“So, from all of us [in Lugazi] to all of you out there, wherever you are: remember- the light at the end of the tunnel may be you. Goodnight!!”

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

4 weeks in Lugazi!

     It is hard to believe that we have now been in Lugazi for 4 weeks! Our team has really pulled together to begin recognizing needs and creating projects to begin to fulfill them.  We have been so grateful to the many Ugandan partners for their kindness and the help they have given.  They have invited us onto many of their projects as well as aided us in ours.
     Last week, we were invited by chairman Livingston to go on an outreach into some rural villages and help in HIV/AIDS screening and lessons, filling perscriptions, agriculture, as well as many other things.  We had it divided into two days so half our team went on Tuesday and the other half on Wednesday. Although it was a bumpy ride to get there, it was an incredible experience and the scenery was absolutely beautiful.  It was different than being in Lugazi because most of the people from the villages did not speak English.  But between our beginning Lugandan phrases and the help of a translator, it was a sucess.
     One thing we have began to realize since we have been here is that there are many people already here in Uganda that are doing so much to help their community and it has been a pleasure so far to work with them.  From the outreach, we were able to gain a greater knowledge of HIV/AIDS awareness as well a better understanding of its' impact here in Uganda. 

       Another area of work that volunteers here have been invollved with is teacher training. So far it has been a great success. The first session was on classroom management and the different student learning styles. The teachers were so interested in how they could make their lessons more interesting and creative. We went around the room and talked about our own personal learning styles and also discussed how to make a geography lesson that includes the seven different styles. I am so impressed with the educators here. They have so little resources to teach yet they are so positive and do so much good. The students here are extremely well behaved and are very intelligent. It's been a pleasure to work with the administrators and teachers.

      Thanks for all the support back home! This is Ashley and Katelynn signing off. Welaba!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A new summer in Lugazi...

Welcome to the continuation of HELP International in Lugazi, Uganda. This year HELP has expanded and now has two team's in Uganda; one in Lugazi, and one in Mukono. We are so excited to be strengthening our presence in this beautiful country and hopefully increasing the impact we can make on these people!

So far our stay here has been busy: full of adventure and hard work! The volunteers arrived in early May and we have been working to meet new partners, catch up with old ones and get rolling on all of the projects that are needed in this community. We have already worked on three adobe stoves, visited beneficiaries of last year's work, started proposals for mushroom houses, ox projects, and an education program and have many more projects coming down the pipeline.

We will update more specifics soon, but for now here is a little recap on what we've been up to the past few weeks:

Every day we are followed by a parade of children crying "mzungu, mzungu!" Mzungu means "white person" in Luganda.
 One of the first projects we worked on was constructing Adobe Stoves with Kizza in our neighborhood, Nakazadde. The beneficiary of this stove was a single mother of 4 and she was so grateful! We stomped the clay alongside the much fun!
While walking to Namengo to visit a women's group Savings & Loans program that was started last year, we passed this railroad track. We live in the most beautiful town!

With a team of 14 girls, we have gotten a kick out of the "water closets" here in Uganda. Everyone has been a champ adjusting to the new facilities. Luckily our home has proper "english" toilets...

Our first Ugandan shopping experience in the local village market. Our little pet "encoco (chicken in Uganda)" actually ended up being dinner the next day. Yum.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Family Planning and Hand Washing Projects

I spent my last few weeks teaching family planning classes at the Hospital with nurse Harriet as my trusty translator. I had another male nurse translate for one of my classes and after I completed the class the women asked to get a woman translator because they didn't believe a man would translate what I was saying correctly. I had fifty cycle beads a week before I left and within two days of classes we taught and sold all fifty beads! So within a few short weeks we totaled 138 cycle beads sold. It was a great way to end my family planning project!

Saturday was our AIDS Extravaganza! We rented a large complex here in Lugazi and had schools and AIDS support groups perform. I spent a good portion of my time last week learning to do a traditional Ugandan dance, which we performed at the Extravaganza with costumes and all. Don’t worry the amazing moment of ten muzungus doing the African dance was captured on film. I ran a booth on infectious disease prevention using resources that they already have available to them. I created the posters in English, and then had a Ugandan friend translate them into Lugandan. I also ran a booth on family planning. I can’t remember if I explained this new project yet, so I’ll keep it brief. I located an NGO called the Uganda Health Marketing Group in Kampala. They sell a lot of products to private businesses as well as give them away for free in villages within their district. Unfortunately, Lugazi doesn’t fall within their district so we purchased a box of Cycle Beads. Cycle beads are composed of a necklace with different colored beads where women can track their cycles. They can then abstain from unprotected sex during the time of the month that they are most fertile. It’s 95% effective in preventing pregnancy for women with regular cycles of 26 to 32 days. We had a booth at the Extravaganza where we planned to run family planning classes and then sell the cycle beads for one hundred shillings. We didn’t quite get the audience we were expecting. We were hoping for the community to come so I could then teach the women this form of family planning. The main people at the Extravaganza were hundreds of student performers. I had to leave a few hours early for Gulu and I left the family planning classes in Josephine’s (public health nurse) care. She said they sold about twenty after I left. I didn’t quite get the numbers I was hoping, so today I planned with Josephine to come every Monday and Wednesday to the hospital and teach the mothers who come in to the antenatal unit to immunize their children. We will then hit our intended audience as well as teach them the benefits of having time in between pregnancies for their own health, which can be accomplished with cycle beads.

Last week we had our unveiling of our very first hand station in the Lugazi Central Marketplace. We set up a booth in the marketplace, luckily it was near the produce and the not near he hanging raw meat. We first presented the hand washing station to the management and then had them sign a contract saying that the hand washing stations will always be fully stocked with water and soap. I will be checking in on the station throughout the summer and if I find that it is not stocked with water and soap three times then we will have a meeting with the management to discuss their relocation. The management agreed and the station has been well stocked since the grand opening. We then certified 167 market vendors in small groups. I gave a lesson on how germs are spread and then I discussed the importance of hand washing and how if done correctly, it can decrease diarrheal diseases by 42-45%. I then asked them questions to verify they understood the material. When they answered them all correctly we had them line up and wash their hands. As soon as they washed their hands they were presented with a hand washing certificate and a hygiene kit (Thank you again Sister Morton!). It was a wonderful day and many of the vendors have proudly displayed their hand-washing certificate at their stand. We are still waiting for four more hand washing stations to be built and I’m hoping they will be finished by the end of the week and then we can install the remaining four. The picture was taken at the end of one of my lessons and the woman I’m handing the hygiene kit to has just washed her hands in the newly constructed hand washing station.
Our next stop for hand washing stations is the local hospital where we will be installing four.