KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
By Amanda Gailey
Last week, KIHEFO and the Child Family Health International (CFHI) students and I began the Nutrition and Women’s Health survey in Rubira. I had the privilege of adapting and working on the survey with some other students, so I have really been interested in the information from the survey’s initiation. The questions will provide information about the health of the children in Rubira, as well as mothers and caretakers, and better inform KIHEFO’s work to support vulnerable households in the communities.
In the first house we visited in Rubira, we spoke with a grandmother who was very kind. She was very receptive of my questions and seemed to really want to talk to us. She had eleven children and ate almost exclusively sweet potatoes…every day. There were several young children that lived with her, although I am sure they were her grandchildren.
She had delivered all of her eleven children in her home, which was common for almost all of the women we interviewed. They delivered at home and weren’t allowed to show much emotion, or pain during childbirth. Only two days later they were back digging in the fields with their babies on their back.
In spite of her circumstances she seemed to be happy. She wanted to show us her pit latrine where she uses the bathroom and also the bed nets that she had just received one month ago from USAID. She did not have them before May of this year, which is shocking considering the high mortality rates of pregnant women and infants who contract malaria. At least one of the children living with her had malaria in the last six months, which is also very common in this area.
We visited the home of another mother who was very young, at the most only 20 years old, with four children. She couldn’t tell us the month and year she was born, couldn’t write her name and had only gone to school through the first level of primary school. Lilian (our preceptor and translator with KIHEFO) said she wasn’t sure she had even gone that far.
Her husband looked much older than her (although it is difficult to assess age due to the stressful lifestyle and the influence that alcohol plays in village life). Lilian thinks her situation is very bad, because she has almost no furniture in her home. No mattress could be seen and the home they were living in was just recently inherited when the mother in law passed away.
The nutrition survey in Rubira was, indeed, a very eye opening experience. It is very difficult to understand people’s situations without talking with them and seeing where they live.
This week has been very full and educational. I have enjoyed getting to know some of the people here and learning about their everyday circumstances. I feel like this is the best way to help others; by learning from them and trying to better understand their needs.
The survey results will help inform KIHEFO’s work in the communities and identify women and households that are supporting large numbers of children and dealing with malnutrition and infectious disease.
Amanda Gailey is a Masters of Public Health student at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She is participating in an 8-week internship focusing on Child Maternal Health and HIV in Kabale, Uganda, through a partnership with KIHEFO and Child Family Health International (CFHI).
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