This blog post was contributed by Faatimaa Ahmadi, one of the fifteen Young Champions of Maternal Health chosen by Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. She will be blogging about her experience every month, and you can learn more about her, the other Young Champions, and the program here.
The Young Champion journey is at times stimulating, frustrating, funny, discouraging, encouraging, and sorrowful but with no doubt, it has always been educational.
During these six months of my journey, all of my colleagues at Joyce Fertility Support Centre have experienced a pat by mosquitoes and haven gotten malaria. This month, February, was Rita Sembuya’s turn (my mentor) which hospitalized her unfortunately! (I don’t know when it is my turn!).
It seems when we are trying to bring change in an environment, we have no other way but to experience some of the things that people of that environment are suffering from. Maybe it is a part of learning from the context!
Before this fellowship, I didn’t have any idea of waking up in the middle of the night by the noise of a big rat which is crunching my bed! I didn’t have any idea of lack of electricity for about 72 hours while the weather is very hot, air conditioner is off and besides, all my information and work are in the laptop!
I am sure that these problems are a bit of the whole problem that women of Uganda, especially women in Mawundo village, where we are working, are experiencing.
We are still working on the analysis of the community needs assessments.
One thing we have found is that many people in this village go to a private clinic and refuse to go to Mawundo Health Center, which is founded by the church. They complain about a number of problems such as unfriendly service by the health staff whose turnover is high, lack of drugs and lack of a professional midwife. They believe there is lack of privacy and confidentiality in the health centre. There is a single, multipurpose room at the centre serving as a ward. Men, women, and children are hospitalized in the same room. This room is also a parking space for ambulances: the two motorcycles seen in the picture below.
In the other side of the room there is the portable bed, seen in the picture below, which can be attached to the motorcycle and carry the patient who is unable to sit on the motorbike.
Providing fuel for the motorcycle sometimes becomes an important issue due to financial constraints.
We also have found that the community needs to be educated on personal hygiene, STDs/HIV, danger signs of pregnancy, family planning, early pregnancy, etc. I find it challenging to educate some of them about personal hygiene when they can’t afford to buy a piece of soap or don’t even have access to clean water! I never forget the advice of a local person who was accompanying us during the needs assessment where we went house to house. She said, “Don’t drink bottled water in front of them. They will think that you are eating money while they can’t afford to pay 200 shilling (10 cent) to buy a mere kilo of salt or even a piece of soap.”
These days I am sharpening my educational skills. One of these skills is to arrange educational materials in a way which makes me sure that the learners participate in the learning process through their heart, head, and hands and feet. So there is a need to consider many details related to the learning process.
I have learned from Jane Vella that the time of preaching is over and now it is the time of dialogue in which we speak into the action of the learners. So far, I have discovered that most of us, as health providers, are accustomed to preaching while we are conducting community health programs. As a result, a gap between the knowledge and behavior of the learners is obvious. Therefore, before educating the community we better ask ourselves, have I sharpened my educational skills?