Monday, June 15, 2015

Greetings from Ishaka, Uganda!

Wow! I would have never in a million years thought that I would have the opportunity to experience my first research project in Uganda as a MHIRT intern. Today marks two weeks since we left the U.S., and I have learned so much already! I am so fortunate to be working alongside Daryl, our site mentor who did MHIRT here in Ishaka, Uganda last summer and who is also pursuing her Master’s in Anthropology, and Eyerusalem, my research partner who is currently pursuing her Master’s in Public Health. From understanding the skills needed to probe effectively during an interview to learning the ins and outs of this small, yet exciting little town called Ishaka, they have both shown me so much already! Being only a rising Junior in college working alongside two Master’s graduate students, I have been taking every moment with them as a learning experience!

            So far, living here in Ishaka has been not only pleasant, but welcoming. Almost any time we visit a shop or restaurant, we find someone thanking us for visiting Uganda, and even hoping that we stay! I must say I am truly honored to be in the presence of such genuine people. Since we have been here, we’ve met the staff at Ishaka Health Plan, the community-based health financing plan that MHIRT-CBU has been working with for years now. Susan, who also works as our translator, is always laughing and smiling, while Anthony is always cracking a joke, giving some excuse as to why he hasn’t brought any pineapples from his village for us to buy yet (they are delicious!). Just last week, Kakunta, Ishaka Health Plan’s scheme manager, invited us and Susan to his home for dinner with his family. I could not have asked for a better end to our first two weeks. Just a few days ago, we woke up to five pineapples sitting on our doorstep. Thanks Anthony!

            As we begin our data collection, I have been getting more and more excited by the minute! We have learned quite a bit about Akashanda Health Center, our area of focus this year. Purchased by Ishaka Health Plan last year, the health center serves the people of Akashanda, a small village not too far from Ishaka. Although it is small and can only provide basic services at the moment, Akashanda Health Center is a place of convenient medical care for the community. Hopefully with time, the center can grow and continue to thrive in Akashanda. As for our research, we are all very eager to learn more about the place as we talk to people in the community. How lucky are we to be the first ones conducting research at the center!

            Well, I must go now. Today we begin the tedious duty of transcribing interviews. I brought along a few pictures, hope you enjoy! Until next time!

            -Jessica Shotwell
Daryl, Me, and Eyerusalem
Enjoying the beautiful view of Lake Victoria in Entebbe

The amazing Botanical Gardens in Entebbe
The movie Tarzan was filmed here!

We are always enjoying a nice walk around town!

Oh the love-hate relationship I have with this hill...We are staying in the Guest House (right at the very top) on Ishaka Adventist Hospital's campus
Nurse at Akashanda Health Center, so friendly!
Mbarara is so much busier than Ishaka! We spent the whole day walking through the shopping areas

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