Moli motya! Sitting out on the Zebra patio on this beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon writing my first blog post! To think we have only been in Uganda for two weeks is absolutely insane. In our short time here we have already witnessed countless ways Kitovu Mobile affects the lives of those in the Masaka district. Having the opportunity to hop in the van alongside some hilarious, kind and helpful (especially during HIV testing) Kitovu workers and bounce down the dusty roads out into the distant villages has been incredible. But not only that, I have laughed with the kids learning to make a life for themselves at one of the Kitovu Mobile Farm Schools because they could not afford school fees. I have witnessed life-altering moments, sometimes good and sometimes devastating, from under the HIV testing tent. I have had an innumerable amount of avocados offered into my hands (holy guacamole). And I have eaten way too many plates of matooke.
After observing just a few of the seemingly endless programs Kitovu runs, we finally went out and began the real ground work of our hygiene and water sanitation project. On Wednesday we ventured back out into the villages, fully loaded with Sanitation Assessment Checklists, Self-Help Group Community Surveys, numerous water bottles and a lot of excitement.
Each paired with a translator we set off in different sections of a large village to begin assessing homes of the women in the Self-Help Group who had signed up for our hygiene competition. Some of the things we were looking for were drying racks (for utensils), livestock pens, rubbish pits (to compost trash), pit latrines (fully equipped with toilet paper, a broom and a door) and many others for a total of 16 items. We saw many homes that scored nearly perfect scores, which was awesome!
Most of the women we visited were extremely appreciative for us to be there and for all that GlobeMed has done for their communities. At every house I went to I was introduced by Kenneth, my translator and the head of the hygiene and sanitation project, and most women knew of the work our chapter has done for their communities. That first day it was very hard to leave a home without some sort of departing gift. I returned back at the end of the day with a pineapple, 20 passion fruit, 5 avocados, a papaya, a melon and a mango. They really were overly welcoming which was really reassuring for our first day out.
We each completed assessments for about ten homes before meeting back at the SHG meeting location to give out our Community Survey. We received a lot of helpful feedback about the basic needs of their community from the women who know best. I will sum up the main result in two words: MORE WELLS! We continued this same routine on Thursday and Friday. We ended the day Friday knowing full well that “Africa time” (slow slow slow) is a real thing, feeling extremely exhausted and muttering a lot of TGIFs (Will). But we also ended the day very satisfied with the work we completed, all the wonderful women we had the opportunity to meet and the ways we got to see GlobeMed’s influence in their communities.
While assessing the homes it was the first time I really became consciously aware of how most people here live. We complain about public restrooms while most of their pit latrines don’t even have a door. I thought driving from Entebbe to Masaka was eye opening, but I was still sheltered by the windows of the car. I thought traveling into villages on our day trips was eye opening, but I was still on the outside of their real personal lives. Once we entered their homes and they proudly showed us around, you realize that this is really their home and this is really where they bathe and this is really how they live. And yet they were still showering us in presents!
To say the least I think we are all much more appreciative and highly motivated to help even further in years to come (and in our next two weeks). I don’t want to bore you with a long blog post and we are leaving for dinner soon, but Allie will be back with more on the work we completed soon!