Our last team member Annslie finally arrived yesterday in the village. She was delayed and rerouted in Burssels and finally made it to Kampala after 54 hours!!! I’m thanking my lucky starts that we didn’t have any complications on our way out.
Some of the Kampala North Rotary members came with Annslie yesterday and had a meeting with us. We discussed some of the action items that we had identified after meeting with the villagers and tried to get some more feedback from the regarding what they think will work.
Procuring necessary supplies has been a challenge and in case I haven’t mentioned it before, things here are SLOW!!! There is also a sense that we dont’ want to just be giving things away left and right so we are also being careful to have the community members become a part of what we are doing since ultimately, these things that we are doing will be turned over to them for management.
Today, the health team is headed out to the Health Centre-II in Iringa. We will be opening a Health Center-II closer to where we are staying, so we are going to go observe at the operational clinic today to get a feel for how they do business and see if we have any suggestions for improvement.
When we visited the HC-II a few days ago, it is a very interesting place. There are boxes and boxes of birth control pills that women don’t want to use because, according to the worker there, they think they don’t work. Judging by the feedback we received during one of our meetings, they don’t really have a good grasp of how the women’s reproductive cycle works and don’t understand the importance of consistency when taking oral contraceptives. There are lots of opportunities for education on that and several other topics, but it’s hard to figure out where to start since health outreach on an individual basis isn’t really a great use of our time. We are thinking that we may work with the community health workers to help THEM better understand so they can spread the word but as is always the case, the message is only as good as the delivery and we’re really not sure how much people trust some of the workers.
The Health Centre-III is where babies are born. Unfortunately, it is too far for most people to travel. The government has been giving pregnant women here 4 travel vouchers to pay for their transportation for pre-natal care but in the meeting we had with the community, we found out that the Health Centre-III is stealing the voucher and not reimbursing the women. It’s somewhat amusing because no one in Uganda says anything directly. I believe the term that our host used was “pocketing the money” or “the money disappears.” You can imagine how difficult it is to communicate and how long conversations are when people don’t direclty answer questions! There is no such thing as “yes” or “no”. If you ask a simple question like- “Are we going to get the paint today?” You will get an answer like- “I have contacted a Rotarian who is coming from Kampala to stop and get some paint on the way.” And then you say- “Ok. Today?” “He is coming from Kampala and will get the paint on his way.” “OK, will the paint arrive at the house today?” “Mmmm. Today.” This “mmm” business is very funny. We have all picked up this habit. “Mmm” is a response for just about everything. It’s an acknowledgement. It’s sometimes a “yes” or if done in the right intonation, it can also be disapproving.
With that, I am headed off to the clinic. Hopefully, I will have another good internet connection later and report back on our experience there while it is still fresh in my mind.