This is Day 4 of a trip to Uganda with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, was part of the delegation to observe UNICEF’s Family Health Days in October 2012.
At Church in Uganda
Sunday, we rose and prepared for the Family Health Day in the town of Fort Portal, which is about a 4 hour drive from Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Our delegation split in two because there were two Family Health Days within our reach that our group wanted to cover, so some of our group headed to a Catholic Church. I was with the group that was at an Anglican church for a Family Health Day.
It was that day that I met John the Baptist, a man who wished to continue school to become a priest, but economics didn’t allow him to do so. He now worked for the town of Fort Portal and accompanied us on our trip. It turned out John the Baptist has a 6 year old daughter, and she and my own 5 year daughter are becoming pen pals over e-mail. What a fantastic cultural experience that may grow out of this trip for two of the world’s children!
We arrived at a grassy knoll with a church on top of the hill. It was picturesque. The familiar (to me) tune of hymns were coming from the building, and on the outside, the health workers were setting up their stations under trees and outside of buildings. Signs were words scrawled on paper: “HIV Testing Here” “Immunizations for Children Under 5”, etc.
First, Cindy Levin’s curiosity led us all into the mass. We sat on what looked like hand made wooden pews and the church inside was painted sky blue and had what looked like Christmas garland hanging from side to side overhead. The energy of the people singing inside was intense! As the priest spoke in a local African dialect, I was able to follow the mass. Not from what he said, but by the sing-song of his tone. I recognized the “Our Father” and the “The Apostle’s Creed” from my days of growing up as a Catholic, although I currently choose not to practice a religion now.
UNICEF Family Health Day
Afterwards we met with health workers, including a lab technician conducting HIV testing, a nurse midwife, and various volunteers administering vaccines, taking blood pressure and testing for malnutrition in small children. The delegation spent time observing each post, but former Mexican nurse, Felisa Hilbert, took it one step further and helped take blood pressure to the smiles of many people waiting in line.
Families waited under the shade of large, beautiful trees for their family members who were utilizing the health services. I had the chance to see children receive polio vaccinations.
Interacting with the mothers who were receiving these immunization services for their children was profound for me, after spending almost a year advocating for their children to have access to them.
The people we met in Uganda were curious and open to conversation, and so were we. Having previous been an British colony, English is common in Uganda. Having this common medium, made it possible for our delegation to really experience the local culture and people of Uganda.
I asked so many questions, met so many people and took a lot of notes. The trip has been an asset for me in leading discussions on Twitter for social good for World Moms Blog, for presenting on Shot@Life, in my writing, and in lobbying US Congress on global health and vaccines, talking to friends. But perhaps, it’s greatest impact will be on my daughters due to the multitude of stories I share with them about the children I met in Uganda. My experiences as part of this delegation were so meaningful. Thank you, again, to the UN Foundation and Shot@Life for giving me this great gift that I will continue to share in my advocacy.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, in NJ, USA. To read more about Jennifer’s trip with Shot@Life to Uganda, check out Day 1 about UNICEF offices in Kampala, Uganda, Day 2 of her trip at a UNICEF Family Health Day in Mumbende, Uganda and Day 3 about signs of poverty.
Photo credits to the author.