Tuesday, September 15, 2009
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.
There have been so many different experiences like this. I love these experiences because I learn so much about there culture and the way they are and what they believe!!
Oh and another cool thing is that I ran a half marathon last Sunday. A couple of people and I just decided to on Saturday night. It was a last second thing. So we left at 5:30 in the morning caught a taxi finally found the place to run, they let us register even though it was closed and then we ran it!! YAY. Well my time is up. I better go!!
Also this week we are having our big eye clinic. Sight Savers, an NGO (non-governmental organizations) that helps people get diagnosis and treatment for different eye ailments that donated nearly $4000, and the local hospital ophthalmologists are working with us to help people get the eye treatment they need. Yesterday (day 1) we saw over 250 people! I got to help give the eye exam, the one where people have to read the letters, it was so much fun and we were able to help a lot of people. There were some really cute old men and women that were getting their eyes checked. You don't see many really old people around town so it was a treat to help the cute grandmas and grandpas.
We stopped at a couple of rural fishing villages along the way. The people were drying millions of small fish on the rocks. They look similar to sardines and are called "Silver Fish" I think. The children throw rocks at the birds to keep them from eating all the fish drying in the sun. The fish are actually really tasty. You mix a couple of dozen fish in with beans. Mandy refuses to try them.
We stopped to fish with handmade bamboo poles. Alas we didn't catch a thing, but it was beautiful to sit in "Andrew" as the African sun set on the lake. We then landed, and took off on a hike through the jungle. The rain forest was absolutely amazing. The island was full of incredible birds, monkeys, and crocodiles (Though we didn't see any crocs that day) We hiked for quite awhile in the dark. Our guide was a friend we met at church in a neighboring city. He was taking us to his parents' home for dinner. We arrived in the dark, (the island has no electricity) and had a delicious meal of cold fish heads and rice. Ironically the fish here are by far the most delicious things to eat. The heads are the most desirable part. I was privileged to eat three.
We spent the night in a "hotel." Mandy and I paid $1.50 for the honey-moon suite. We made it through the night, woke up before the sun came up, trucked back through the jungle, and climbed back onto our sturdy vessel. We arrived home later than expected, but had a great time and made some memories we'll never forget.
The people here are amazing. This last week, they had a teacher training in Mukono, the town 20 minutes away from Lugazi. It was led by these three people from Kenya. They actually did a great job. I am so amazed, though, at how much they love each other. They are so kind. Their faith is incredible. Everything is God's will and will be ok. That's what they always say.
We are planning to use ideas from our own backgrounds and also from this teacher training to teach other teachers in the surrounding villages. I hope we can do some good. It is so sad to see so much need and know that there is so little we can do in such a short time. I will do my best.
On my first trip to Kawoto the people had rarely seen Mzungus (white people) before and the children were afraid of us. I approached a group of them, the older ones ran, and the younger ones screamed in fear and began crying. It took us quite awhile before they learned that we were not ghosts as they may have thought but truly close friends, even family, by the end of the summer. I met with the leader of the Women’s Group, Rose, and we discussed the needs of the village. The main activities of the group was handicrafts, mat weaving, stool and broom making, and beautiful crocheted table mats. The women would make a few a month to sell at a very low price. They wanted to grow food but Meta would not allow it and so they did not have money to feed their families or money for schooling for the children.
I met three girls that day who became close friends over the summer. They had great goals of being coming doctors, secretaries, and an engineer. As I was leaving that day they asked if we would come back. I told them that I would like to, hopefully the next week. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “Promises are empty here.” I realized that many people must make promises to her and these people and then just forget about them as they get caught up in other things. I knew then what I could and would do for these people. Women in Uganda still suffer from oppression and abuse and so as we began forming a team to work on Women’s Groups in Uganda we started looking for projects that would really affect the lives of the women, things that could be sustainable and really empower and lift the women from the situations they are in now.
Kawoto was just one of many groups that we met with but it was my favorite group to work with. I ended up teaching the women how to make paper bead jewelry. It was such a wonderful project and the women did so well. At first I was concerned that they would not become actively involved. When I came the second time no one was around in the village and I thought that they had forgotten, but once they heard our boda bodas approaching all the women and children and soon even the men came from their work and gathered in the small classroom to hear the lesson on bead making. The language barrier was only slightly a problem. I had my good friend Linda, Teo’s daughter, with me always to translate English to Swahili. And the women just laughed when I learned how to say “good” in Swahili-Visuri!
On my third visit I was so nervous that the women would not have used the supplies I had left them to actually make the beads and that we would have to start over and I would not be able to leave them with the next set of supplies. But when I got there each women came up to me with her own back of over 500 beads completed, so excited and proud of her beads. I almost started crying when I saw how hard they had worked and how excited they were! I could not believe the dedication and hard work these women live their lives each day. It is evident in everything they do.
Eventually, we finished the necklace lessons and we were able to work around the “no planting rule” and we provided then with cabbage farms which are grown in bags not in the ground! (Take that Meta!) So the women are now able to sell necklaces as well as grow cabbages for food as well as income.
It was a sad day when I had to leave my friends of Kawoto Village. I love those women so much. They are so strong and so determined to help themselves. They are great and powerful women and I loved working with them.
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
week to check up on the gardens and the kids are getting into it as
well as the teachers. It is fun to watch the plants growing and it
will be ready to harvest in no time.
I started an other project where I teach at Seya Primary School twice
a week. I teach P7 (7th grade). I teach them math and health at the
same time. There are only eight students so I have gotten to know the
students pretty well and their personalities. This last time I taught
I was teaching about percentages and incorporated teaching about
malaria. I put up a blank bar graph that they had to fill in at first.
They had to answer the question, "Did you use a mosquito bed-net last
night?" And mark the graph either yes or no. Then they found the
percent that said yes and the percent that said no. Then we had a
discussion about malaria (what it is, how it is caused, what makes
them sick, how to prevent it). A couple of the students already knew a
lot about how to prevent it, but they didn't really know what was
really going on in their bodies which they thought was interesting. I
explained to them that when a mosquito that has malaria bites someone,
the malaria from the mosquitoes saliva gets into their blood stream
and the plasmodium travels to their liver. The plasmodium multiplies
to be tens of thousands then goes back into the blood stream through
red blood cells. The red blood cells rupture and that is when the
person gets sick, has a fever, and feels tired. I showed them a large
picture of what a parasite looks like. Their eyes got really big! We
had a discussing of how it is important to do all we can to prevent
getting malaria and to talk to their family about covering their
windows and doors with screens, getting rid of stagnant water, burning
mosquito coils, and especially using bed nets. After the discussion
about malaria, I gave them a difficult problem to solve in groups so
they would have to work together. The problem was something like "To
be safe from Polio in Uganda, at least 90% of the children need to be
immunized for Polio. In Lugazi last week, about 637 out of 1200
children were immunized. Just from the children last week, is Lugazi
safe from Polio?"
Saleh is the student that loves to talk in class and if he doesn't
understand he shows it. I have him come to the board and explain what
he is thinking and see if other students can catch the mistakes in his
justifications of things. Like last week, I wanted them to understand
that the total percent of a whole is 100%. SO instead of just telling
them, I had them figure it out. However, Saleh led the class in
thinking that the total percent is 1%. I asked many questions to lead
them to understand it is 100% but Saleh just wasn't listening until I
finally made him show me his thinking at the board and had him figure
out where he went wrong.
I love teaching at Seya. They are really good at working together and
I think I am making them start loving math. Muah haha. A lot of
people, mostly adults, hate math and tell me they failed it in
secondary school. I had a good discussion with one of the guys from a
local NGO, The Youth Outreach Mission, about how math is important and
it can be applied to everyday life, but he completely disagreed. That
was a fun conversation. :)
Friday, July 17, 2009
About two times a week several volunteers go to Seya Primary School. It is a primary school that is located about twenty minutes outside of Lugazi. It is a gorgeous drive and a relaxing time on a boda. We teach all classes, ranging from P1-P7, with subjects such as English, hygiene, sanitation, safety, mathematics, and science. Sometimes they make us teach nursery and it is really difficult because we don’t speak Lugandan well and they don’t speak English well. The school has 4 temporary shelters that they use as classrooms, one of which was built by HELP last year. They basically just have a roof and wood dividers between classrooms with rows of benches for the students. Annette, headmistress of Seya School, is one of our most beloved people here in Uganda. She treats us to food every time we go out there and gives us delicious juice that is miraculously cold. Annette and her husband Josiah are gems and so fun to sit and talk with while we wait for bodas. They have a little girl named Dawn that had a great fear of Mzungus the first time we went, but now she gets the biggest smile every time we show up. The school has almost filled their latrine (it smells really great) so we started work building a new one. The pit latrine was dug by the community and we are starting to build the foundation…hopefully it is stable and no kids fall into the pit of despair.
Seya is the greatest place and we love love love going there. The kids are so cute and so smart, and we love being called “Madame”. One day when we showed up there were 30 or so boys stripping down to their underwear and none of us knew what was going on. They threw their clothes all over the trees and then formed a large circle and started dancing and singing. We finally asked Annette what they were doing and she said they were just exercising and getting some fresh air. We are not sure why they had to take their clothes off to exercise…
Monday, June 15, 2009
Hand washing stations
We found a new design to build hand washing stations because we couldn’t find all of the materials necessary to build the old model. After discussing the new design with Wilson, from Youth Outreach Mission, we decided to build hand washing stations that are a little more durable and therefore more sustainable. Today we will order one for the market and will install it as well as teach hand washing early next week. After seeing the finished product and its durability we will decide if we want to build them elsewhere.
We met with the local women’s group on Thursday and discussed the possibility of building a mushroom house which they feel would be the greatest benefit to the group. I will discuss this with Jake, the project lead for mushroom houses, and run it past the group when they get home from Gulu. Also, Tifanee and I have been learning how to do the paper bead jewelry so we can teach the women’s groups this craft. We have made great progress but still have things we need to learn. In order to do this we will be meeting with a friend of Wilson’s in Kampala who makes these beads as her profession. She will help us to perfect the craft and purchase all the necessary supplies that we cannot buy here in Lugazi.
Aids Awareness Extravaganza
The extravaganza is growing at a rapid rate. We now not only are going to be showcasing performances and our work here in the villages but we also will be offering free HIV/AIDs blood testing and giving out free mosquito nets. We have been working a great deal with Wilson and Robert from the Youth Outreach Mission. This week we sent out letters to the Embassy asking for funding and asking for their attendance. We will meet with the Youth Outreach Mission again this coming week to go over the extravaganza to complete the details and begin renting all the equipment and starting all the details.
16 members of our group left last Wednesday to travel to Gulu. They arrived safely and had a great time there besides a few logistical problems, but that’s expected. The group then safari’d and will be back tonight. Kellyn and Jake came back early so this is a brief update of what they did while they were there.
The Gulu trip was very successful and we completed 11 stoves. We built the stoves in 3 areas; Paichu, an HIV group around Gulu University, and a very rural village an hour outside the city center. The first day of building, we broke into three groups and each tried to complete the foundation for three stoves. One group completed all three, but because the other two groups did not have the materials ready for us, one group did one and the other two stoves. All in all it was a very productive work day even with the numerous complications. The following day, we split into five groups so we could accomplish more. Two groups filled the stoves, and the other three groups built 5 more stove foundations and taught the groups how to fill them themselves. We used ant hill clay instead of mud which made the stoves stronger. Also we discovered you can use the clay as a substitute for cement so that everyone has the opportunity and financial means to build his/her own stove. Overall everyone was very receptive and excited about teaching neighbors and friends how to make their own stoves. Personally, I felt like these two work days were the most productive and beneficial of all the work days this first wave.
They also went to meet with the invisible children headquarters and had a long discussion with the president of the organization there.
Kawolo Hospital Eye Camp
The eye camp is being spearheaded by ryan and jake. they are planning a week long camp to perform surgeries on rural people for cataracts and glaucoma. it's going to be big and we are really excited about it. The Eye Camp work has been very productive this week. We are going to separate the Doctor shadowing and the Eye Camp into two different projects. This week we haven’t done anything with Doctor Shadowing. We met with SightSavers in Kampala on Monday and they agreed to help us with the project and donate about 6 million shillings towards the project. We will try and provide for everything else through HELP and private donations. We met with the Superintendent of Kawolo Hospital and he approved our idea and clapped for us, it was cool. On Tuesday we met with Annette and Betty who are the Ophthalmologic Assistants in charge of the project and we created a budget with them and sent an application letter into SightSavers. The following day we met with the District “Healthy” Minister and he told us that he is very willing to help us with this project. We made flyers to pass out to all of the rural health clinics where we will be having the screenings and were going to go to radio stations so they will announce the Eye Camp but we were waiting for the final confirmation from SightSavers which didn’t come until Friday evening. While we were waiting we went to the church in Mukono where the teacher training was and I pulled a worm out of my arm. That was pretty crazy. We did however receive confirmation from SightSavers and so we will be meeting with Betty and Annette on Monday to go to the radio stations so they can announce the Eye Camp. This will get as many people to go to the Eye Camp as possible. Dis is gonna be da best project eva. Peace out Mike.
Music Dance Drama/HIV group
The MDD group started out slow the last couple of weeks and then kicked it into high gear this week when we found out that the performance for the town council members and Embassy members was moved to this past Thursday. We hurriedly camp up with some monologues and poems about Hope and not being afraid. The group performed some songs about getting rid of the stigma that accompanies having Aids. It ended up being a powerful performance and I think the audience really enjoyed it. We will continue working with group through out the summer so they can get ready for other up coming performances.
Promising progress has been made in business training this past week. With the arrival of Taylor Mackay, our group numbers have increased dramatically (from 1 to 2, to be precise, which doesn’t include the intermittent members), which makes the workload less overwhelming (and less lonely) to manage, the vision more possible to fulfill. On Thursday, we visited Stanbic Bank to learn the process of opening bank accounts for home and for business, as well as Pride Microfinance Ltd. to better understand its methods of loaning, credit, outreach, and training. With all introductory meetings behind us, we are fully set to commence business classes with five separate groups (two of which actually had their first classes last week). In order to better facilitate discussions with class members, we have contacted Professor Joan Dixon at BYU and requested Pro-literacy materials that specifically address business concepts. From here, we will run classes and continue to research what else can be done to benefit people through business.
the mushroom house has been constructed for a women's group. they each have been given one small bag to start and are being followed up with business classes so that they can learn how to expand. they are also committing to save 10% of profit for their children's education funds.
Andrew Harrison has been heading up adobe stoves and has built over 15 in lugazi. He is doing a great job and people are really excited about their stoves. the stoves help with respiratory disease, cut costs of firewood and are time savers.
there is a rural school that we have done teacher training, a square foot garden for math teaching and to add more nutrition, and a chicken coop for income generation for students who are unable to pay tuition.
we have partnered with some college aged ugandan students who are really impressive. we go with them to different schools or help gather street children and orphans for one hour of soccer (andrew lovel donated the jerseys) and then one hour lesson on AIDS awareness and on basic sanitation and health.
public health outreach
we meet once a week with a woman from the mukono branch named margaret who plans outreaches, this week we are going to have a soccer match with a secondary school and then do some trainings. we have done business, health, and teacher trainings in the past. we are also expected to give speeches and the village performs for us. it's great.
there are other things that I'm sure I'm forgetting but we have a great group of volunteers and we are really excited about what we have going on. I'm trying to encourage more partnerships with other ngo's. we have a list of over 300 working ngo's in uganda.
five of our volunteers are leaving and it makes me sad. I'm going to miss lezlie, matt, kellyn, kat, and drew. I'm excited for our new ones that are here though. they are also going to be great!