Hey all! San Diego State and Wake Forest here again for another blog post! We had another exciting week in Oyam district, Uganda from our typical primary school visits to a national park safari and everything in between. Every Monday we start our day off with a meeting at the GHN(U) office, its a great way to review the past week so we can better serve the community. After our meeting we headed to one of the homestay sites that is currently hosting a couple members of the Syracuse team to perform sanitation visits throughout that village. These walkthroughs of the homes are interesting to us because we are able to help GHN(U) staff evaluate the current conditions of latrines and their living spaces to provide them with ways to improve their living spaces to meet a sanitation bylaw that has recently been enacted in the subcountiies. Walking through the villages also gives our team the opportunity to meet many more community members than we would if we just made our daily school visits! In the afternoon we headed over to Alyec Primary School for our favorite activity of the day, interacting with the children! They are always so excited to see our cars pull up and for all the Munos (white people) to get out. At Alyec we gave the children Vitamin A and split them up to play a few games. It has become somewhat of a ritual to play soccer with the school children, and they are always SO much better than all the interns combined!
Tuesday was off too a shaky start with our team’s car breaking down as we were headed out to the field to perform more sanitation visits. So, instead of working with the Syracuse team in the villages we decided to make fun posters for our health discussions we conduct at the schools. We have been teaching the children about HIV and AIDS and thought it would be a good idea to create a fun activity for the children to work into our presentation. Through this we were able to showcase our awesome drawing skills to make some true or false scenarios. In the afternoon the car was working again (yay!) and we were able to head out to another homestay village host to conduct a few sanitation visits and talk to the village tailoring group about family planning and its importance. This discussion about various birth control methods really opened our eyes to the definite cultural differences associated with family planning here in Uganda. Judith, one of the GHN(U) staff was the only female employee there and she did a great job of informing the community of the importance of family planning.
On Wednesday, our team of interns helped GHN(U) host another school health day at Adong Primary School! These events are awesome and allow us to help clean the school and hear about healthy lifestyles from the students. There were songs, poems, dramas and a traditional dance! The day is filled of fun, entertainment, and learning. The school health day at Adong was the second event we have done like this with a primary school. We always feel famous when we spend time at the schools because all of the children run up to us and want to shake your hands. After the entertainment portion of the event, vitamins are handed out to the school children and we get ready to play an intense game of soccer. This time, interns created a team with GHN(U) staff to face off against the kids and again we were beat miserably by the school children! I think next time we play soccer we need to have an intern versus GHN(U) game so we stand any chance of actually winning a game!
We learned about a traditional board game called charro this week, every intern can’t get enough of it! There is one board almost always in play here at the guest house. Charro is similar to mancala. However, charro has a few more rules and if you play it right, its extremely fast pace. The charro crown has been up for grabs this whole week because there as yet to be someone who is undefeated. I think its safe to say that when we all drive back in the states, we will all be looking for a way to continue playing this game, we are all obsessed!
On Thursday, our team met up with a few GHN(U) staff members to do some more hygiene and sanitation visits in a new village we hadn’t visited before. The village was beautiful and we stumbled across a big sunflower field while walking around to the different homes. We were able to visit 12 homes in the community, which was a great and productive day. One of the families had many animals, including lots of little piglets! One of the GHN(U) staff members, Lawrence, caught a piglet so we had a chance to hold it. All of the people were very nice and welcoming as always, and one home even made roasted corn for all of us which was very delicious! After we had our lunch we headed to Aber primary school to say hello and introduce ourselves. We had the opportunity to meet the head teacher of the school, and introduce ourselves to one of the classes. We are excited to head back to Aber in the next few weeks to conduct our health program!
The last day of our work week came up quickly and we headed back to Omolo primary school. There we met up with Team A who did some presentations on basic hygiene, and we did an activity reviewing our HIV/AIDS presentation we had given there already. The kids did great and remembered a lot about how HIV/AIDS can be caused and spread. After our health presentations we helped the students clean their school. It is always fun to work with the students and have them show us the way they do things. We headed home to have lunch and then played games with the neighbors. Later on that day we were able to meet Agnes’ three kids! They came to Loro for the weekend and it was so fun to meet them and spend time with them.
Saturday was our rest day and we spent the day hanging out at the guest house with our team, Agnes, and her children. We played Charro, watched movies, played outside, and made a big meal of chicken, rice, beans, and chapatti for everyone. Earlier in the week we had complimented Agnes and Winnie on their braids, and they had the idea of braiding our hair! It started with Agnes wanting to try something on Mackenzie, and it ended in Mackenzie getting her whole head braided! After this, it was a chain reaction and before we knew it most of us had our hair braided! After dinner on Saturday, Agnes had two women come over to help with braiding our hair. Now, we are a braided girl gang; we are not sure how much longer the braids will last however, all of our scalps are not use to this kind of hair style!
On Sunday, we went on our excursion to Murchison Falls. Bob picked us up bright and early to make the two hour drive to the national park. We spent the day driving through the park and were able to see elephants, giraffes, gazelles, warthogs, monkeys, baboons, vultures, meerkats, and water buffalo. After some driving we got out of the car to walk down to the falls. It was an amazing sight to see the Nile rapidly running through such a lush green area. We made our way back up the stairs to continue driving through the park, but arrived at our car to see many vicious, biting flies had gotten inside. The next part of our drive consisted of us angrily swatting the flies with anything we could find to avoid getting bitten. Once the flies were gone we were able to relax and enjoy the rest of the drive through the park. This was a great excursion and it was so cool to see all of the animals out in the wilderness!
We had an enjoyable weekend and are excited to get the work week started! On Monday, Team A will be returning to the guest house for their last few days before heading back home and our team will be heading to homestays for the next two weeks. We have had the chance to meet the families we will be staying with and we are excited to live with them to learn even more about their culture and build closer relationships within the community. Stay tuned to read all about our homestay experience and other adventures of this week!