By Ananya Benegal
This week was a pretty eventful one! Wednesday was Eid, the celebration that occurs at the end of Ramadan. There is a significant Muslim population here, so it was a public holiday and the festivities were everywhere. Ruth, one of Dr. Parikh’s research assistants, was kind enough to invite us to a celebration at her home.
There was a delicious dinner of traditional Ugandan food, then an evening of singing, dancing, and playing with the 20 children whom she cares for, which was exhausting but so much fun. We were so grateful to be able to enjoy that incredible experience with her and her family.
Finally, on Thursday, we were able to return to Naigobya at long last!! It’s been nearly three weeks since we’ve been here, between the islands, our being sick, and the public holiday, so I’m very excited to be back. It was especially nice because the Iganga team joined us today in our activities, so they also got to experience a little bit of the Nutrition Project. We visited the homes of four Community Health Workers, or CHWs, to check in on their progress and learn more about the challenges that they face. The CHWs are all people nominated by the members of their community to take part in the project. They are trained by UDHA and are responsible for promoting nutrition and wellness in their communities through food demonstrations, monitoring of pregnant mothers and infants, and other activities. Part of their role is to maintain model gardens, in which they generally grow several different types of starches, fruits, and vegetables, which cover many of the requisite nutrients.
These gardens serve as not only a source of food, but an example through which they can share the knowledge and expertise so that others can grow their own gardens as well. Being a CHW is completely voluntary, and it was inspiring to hear from people who are so dedicated to their community.
We wrapped up our week on Friday with a presentation at Naigobya Primary School about sanitation. In the past we have presented there and at two other local schools about other topics such as menstruation and personal hygiene. This presentation included a hands-on section, where the students built a tip-tap outside of their latrines so that they can wash their hands after using the bathroom. It is a mechanism made out of simple everyday items; a gerrycan, sticks, and string.
They used the sticks as a frame from which they hung the gerrycan with the string, and set it up so that stepping on the string with your foot tips the can and pours the water, thus the name. It really cool to see them put in place a practical implementation of the material that we covered in the classroom section of the presentation.
Overall, we had a great week and while I definitely do miss Iganga and the rest of the team, I’m grateful to be back at it in Naigobya!