Hello all! This is San Diego State University and Wake Forest University updating you on our time here in Uganda again. On Monday, we didn’t have our usual weekly meeting due to time constraints. However, we did make it out to the Tomagi Health Center to assist with various stations such as, eye care, immunizations, and antenatal care. It was a very enriching experience looking into how the health center operates with such a large number of patients. Afterwards, we returned to our guest house to finish packing up to begin our exciting home stay experience. Our groups were split up into a group of 5 (Jessica, Destiney, Victoria, Erin, and GHNU staff member Sharon) and a group of 4 (Mackenzie, Cassie, Kiley, and GHNU staff member Winnie). In the evening, we first arrived at the home stay of the family of George and Esther in which the group of 5 were staying. In this blog post, Victoria and I (Destiney) will be focusing on our experience at our homestay as others from the other group will talk about their experience in their home stay in our next blog post! There was a nice welcoming party for us when we arrived at our homestay and we concluded the night by setting up our beds and mosquito nets in our spacious hut.
On Tuesday, we went to Odong Primary School to teach a lesson to the students on Health & Hygiene. The lesson consisted of proper hand washing and other clean hygiene habits. After the lesson, we stopped by Omolo to see the development of the Sanitary Pad production site and greet the Syracuse team during their last day on site. We then returned to our respective home stays. Upon our return, we went with some of our host family to fetch water at the nearby water pump. One of our members, Jessica, was brave enough to carry the jerircan of water on her head, as a local Ugandan woman would! Following such, our host father George took us for a little walk to see some of his cattle and get some mangoes. Once we got our mangoes from a local tree, it started to pour, so we all ran back to our household and were soaked by the time we reached. After a long day, we had a delicious meal from our host family and made our way to bed.
Wednesday consisted of our team assisting and observing at the Adigo Health Center with the immunizations of infants and antenatal care. This was also the day we had a farewell function for the Syracuse team back at our guest house. The gathering involved an exciting performance of traditional African Dances, some light speeches from the staff and team leaders, delicious food, and great company. It was great working with their team during their time here and being able to see the amazing work they did with GHNU.
We started our day on Thursday with Hygiene and Sanitation visits at various households in Adyegi. We split up into 3 groups and made our way to about 12 households each. These visits are always interesting and helpful to do for the communities and for our own benefit of getting to see the living situations of different families. Afterwards, we stayed in Adyegi and had a discussion with the local community group about Family Planning, why it’s important, various methods, different services, etc. Following our discussion, we had a nice cup of porridge, some doughnuts (my favorite!), and a large pile of ground nuts (much like peanuts). At around 6pm, our group returned to our home stay and pumped more water for the household. Once we got back from that, it began to pour as one of our group members was bathing outside! It was an interesting experience, to say the least. It continued to rain throughout the night, so we mainly talked with our host brother and sisters (James, Brenda, Jillian, and Maureen) under the edges of our hut. We had a peaceful night of sleep with the calming sounds of the rain.
On Friday, we headed to the Omolo Sanitary Pad site to assist with the making of the pads. It was our groups first time seeing how they are fully made, so it was wonderful to be able to assist in the production of such a helpful resource for girls. The reusable pads are made by cutting different pieces of cloth and lining in specific shapes and stacking them together so that they could be sewn together. The rest involves sewing specific pieces of the sanitary pad to complete the whole set. Since Friday is a half day, we were able to go to Lyra so that some of our group members could pick up the clothing items they were getting made for them. When we went to pick up the clothing, some needed some finishing and fitting adjustments, but overall, looked fantastic!! It was a great investment and something wonderful to bring back to the States. Sharon is a local to Lyra, so we were fortunate enough to have her show us around, get some yummy ice cream, buy a few souvenirs, and buy some snacks to take back to our home stays. We retuned to our home stays late that night.
However, in the middle of the night, we had an unwelcome visitor squeaking, rummaging, and nibbling at our mangoes! A rat (or maybe two) had been attracted to our hut and continued to bother us until we got a cat to dispose of it the following day.
We started our beautiful Saturday by bathing in our shelter and having breakfast. Our host father George then showed us around his various farms and crops thought the vast land he owns. He told us a lot about his life and how he was a single child, so he inherited much of the land he owns and bought the rest. George was a teacher for many years and retired a few years ago, yet he still helps out at various schools. His wife Esther is a very skilled and educated woman as well. They both have been beyond hospitable and generous to our group, so we are extremely grateful for having the opportunity to stay with them.
The rest of our Saturday involved learning how to sew with the local machines (which is fairly difficult!), jumping rope with the kids in the area, and going to see the Nile! George had called over one of his trucks so that we could ride in the back to the Nile, which was nearby. The Nile was a beautiful site and fantastic to see. Upon our return, Jessica left with our host brother James to get a cat from one of the family friends and the rest of us sat outside with the family, talked, and shared some laughs. Within about 20 minutes of releasing the cat after we were all in bed (I make sure to tuck everyone into bed at night to avoid those crazy bug bites), we heard the cat successfully capture the rat! We were all very happy with the cat…except for Sharon who thought the kitten was ugly. So we decided to name the cat “Mini Sharon”. 🙂
Sunday was church day, so we all got dressed and walked to church which was about 30 minute walk. The church seemed very happy to have us there and we received many gifts of corn, eggs, tomatoes, and pineapples from various members of the church. After a short nap and a late breakfast, our group began to cook lunch for the rest of our host family. It was difficult to cook the local food, but it was very fun! We cooked goat, cabbage, greens, rice, beans, and posho—a whole feast! Thankfully, the family enjoyed the food very much. The rest of the night was spent trying to digest the large amount of food we ate, not being able to eat dinner since we were so full, and watching part of a movie before falling asleep.
Overall, the home stay life has been a big highlight of our time here in Uganda. We are well fed, we have a great latrine (our toilet which is pretty much a hole in the ground), a wonderful family, and a fantastic GHNU staff member staying with us to help assimilate us into the culture. Tune in next week for how the home stay life has been for the other part of our group!
-Victoria & Destiney
Wake Forest/San Diego State