2015 PFIG Recipient Sarah Dugan
Journal Entry #1
This summer, I am working as a Water, Hygiene, and Sanitation (WASH) intern with the Uganda Village Project. The Uganda Village Project is a non-profit organization based in Iganga Town, Uganda, but it works with communities throughout the district. The goal of UVP is to utilize local knowledge and mobilize community-based organizations to ensure a future in which Ugandan communities have the resources to create and implement their own health and development solutions.
In this position, I work with a team of international and Ugandan undergraduate and graduate students to directly support and inform UVP's efforts to establish a water safety plan in one of its partner communities. My internship duties can be divided into three broad categories: capacity building, educational outreach, and program design and assessment. I will participate in retraining water committees and implementing community projects related to clean water access. From an educational standpoint, I will be responsible for planning and conducting WASH educational sensitizations, as well as working with administrators to facilitate educational outreaches to local schools. Finally, I will also be involved in researching and surveying various methods of sanitation in rural communities, as well as working with Village Health Teams and water committee members to conduct focus groups in order to better understand how to appropriately introduce water and sanitation projects into the community.
The first week consisted primarily of orientation and introductory material. My team members and I received extensive training on various topics, including a lesson on the structure of the Ugandan healthcare system, instructions on how to conduct certain assessments and mobilizations, and a discussion of Busoga cultural practices--including Lusoga language lessons. We also reviewed technical material related to family planning, obstetric fistula, nutrition, malaria prevention, and hygiene and sanitation. All of these are health concerns that UVP addresses. Some of the information and skills I had learned before, but much of the orientation introduced me to new material. I am excited to put these skills, both new and old, into practice.
After orientation, the interns began the process of moving to the communities in which we will be living and working for the duration of the internship. I am located about 90 minutes by taxi away from the town in which UVP is headquartered. This distance makes it impossible for UVP staff to constantly monitor our actions, so we are given significant freedom in our work. I find this prospect incredibly exciting. After settling in, we spent the remainder of the week becoming acquainted with the community. During this time, we met with leaders in the community, with the Village Health Team (VHT) members, and with Water User Committee (WUC) members. In these meetings, they discussed with us plans and goals for the summer, and we made a preliminary schedule of work to accomplish.
It has been an eventful and interesting week thus far, and I am looking forward to learning more about this community, strengthening our relationships with members of the VHTs and WUCs, and getting started on our work.