Pads, pork, and packing up

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July 7th 2019
Published: July 9th 2019
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Donation DaysDonation DaysDonation Days

Haley and I making the usual clinical rounds--but this time making our debut as "pad partners" and "bra bringers" for the women in maternity and antenatal.

Where to start? So much has happened in so little time. We have finished our community placement and now we are off to Kampala for a couple days to make some "site visits". We're not entirely sure what that entails, but we are trusting that our supervisors will make it a meaningful and memorable time. 😊 Yesterday we returned to Mbarara to spend the night before continuing the journey to the capital. Saying good-bye to the Rugazi community was difficult to say the least. for once we actually left on (Canadian) time, which was unexpected and made the hugs and teary good byes feel all the more abrupt. Even in spite of language/cultural differences and the short amount of time we spent in Rugazi, the people and the circumstances they face have affected us deeply and am sure will continue to impact our lives and future professional practices.

Friday was our last day in clinic and community, so we spent the last part of our week in clinic handing out donated bras, panties, and Afripads to women at the health centre. Anne-Sophie and I were also able to squeeze in an impromptu mini nutrition-during-pregnancy education session for the women in the antenatal clinic. Though I would definitely have preferred to have prior warning and not be thrown into public speaking in the spur of the moment, I appreciated the opportunity to see what kinds of nutrition questions and perceptions the women accessing the clinic had for us.

Early this week we went to a different primary school to give a second round of our spiel on menstruation. Apparently the boys were extremely inquisitive, and the girls I was with were relatively engaged--but it's hard to tell if people can understand our accent/pace of speech, even if they technically understand English. I would have liked to be able to interview some of the girls individually as we did in the last school to truly gauge their understanding and behaviours, but time was limited and we had to prioritize. This second school was a private school, so we assumed that the girls there would have more access to menstrual products and benefit less from our demos and Afripads compared to the public school and village. Afterwards we stopped by the House of Love orphanage where we were welcomed with open arms, fresh fruit, handmade crafts, and a crash course
Pad-making PartayPad-making PartayPad-making Partay

As Brooke would put it (and a phrase we've all adopted as a team): "We're nailing it!"
in a couple of the kids' favourite games. The first one was called "drip drip drop" and was pretty much the equivalent of duck duck goose but involved pouring water on people. Another called "heart attack" was basically stella-ella-ola, and there was one that I am fairly certain is called "big booty" (no, I am not certain why that is the name of a kid's game but I digress) that involves a lot of numbers and shouting. Like the last time we visited an orphanage it was difficult to make a connection with the kids and then leave, knowing that we probably wouldn't get the chance to go back ever again. But my usual internal conflict was eased a bit by noting how the conditions of this orphanage were genuinely good and you could tell that Agnes, the social worker in charge, loved her work and truly cared about the kids. We were told that quite a few kids were HIV positive, and I was impressed by how they treated all of them equally and fostered a stigma-free environment.

On Thursday we went back out into the community, demonstrating pad making and interviewing the women in the Kasara 2
Our Parting GiftOur Parting GiftOur Parting Gift

We weren't sure if Meow-meow, our resident cat, was pregnant or had a parasite...we solved that mystery when these cutie-patooties came out to greet us before we kissed Rugazi goodbye!
village. There wasn't quite as big of a turnout as we had hoped, but the responses we got while interviewing a few participants (with a LOT of help from Florence, our VHT) were honest and helpful in providing us with insight into the village womens' attitudes towards menstruation. Friday morning I had the chance to pretest a survey on adolescent girls' attitudes, knowledge, and behaviors pertaining to nutrition and sexual/reproductive health that our supervisor, Sarah, is going to use for her research. She's come to join us to keep us in line and teach us all the things about plants so we don't poison ourselves and do dumb things (it's hard to imagine how we survived a month and a half without her--shout out to you if you're reading this, Sarah!)

The afternoon was spent back in Ndekye primary school to see if the kids had done their "homework" of making more cloth pads and if they had retained any of the information we had taught them. We distributed Afripads to both the village women and the primary school girls, and we still had extras left at the end to leave for more women coming in to the health centre. I touched up the section of our group's report I had been delegated to write, and in the evening we wrapped up our work week with some delicious local pork. I don't fancy myself as much of a meat person, but I appreciated the treat after the weeks in the community of mostly eating beans, chapatis, eggs, matooke, posho, rice, and groundnut sauce. Although I have come to really enjoy the Ugandan staple foods, I look forward to having more variety in my diet during the weeks to come (and reintroduce my personal staple food of ice cream).

Saturday morning we went spelunking (so happy I get to use my favourite word in its proper context!) in a local touristy cave nicknamed "Dave the Cave" and then went back to Kingfisher pool that we had enjoyed the week before. Rayden ventured off to do vet things with large predators in Queen Elizabeth park in the evening, leaving us as a fully female team for the week. Going back to living with seven people feels so quiet compared to the constant cacophony of 20+ students, newly delivered crying babies, roosters, and our resident cats (one of which gave birth to several beautiful kittens the day before we left as a parting gift for us).

Anywho, I'm going to wrap up and get some rest before our five-hour journey to Kampala--but there's a lot in store for us this week, so I'm sure there'll be lots to report on for the next post. After Kampala we'll be going up North to Gulu, another major centre in Uganda that I'm definitely looking forward to experiencing.

Until next time, keep being your awesome and adventuresome self!

Ninkukunda munonga, lots of love,



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