Safe Mothers, Safe Babies

Safe Mothers, Safe Babies
Photo Credit: Anne Sherwood

21 August 2012

SAFE Practicum Reflection: Haseena Sahib

Meet Haseena, one of Safe Mothers, Safe Babies' lovely interns who returned from Uganda this month having learned a great deal and contributed hugely to SAFE's projects!

Thank you for sharing your experience, Haseena!

A Short Reflection of My Practicum Experience 

Haseena Sahib

Haseena with women at the Lubira Health Clinic
“Jambo! Jambo!” The children scream excitedly as we ride past Busesa, the town between our home in Ibulanku and our destination Kalalu. The children leap from their seats on the grass near their homes; clearly unafraid to run toward the boda boda motor bikes. Their hands wave repetitively and hurriedly, expressing exactly how their hearts must be beating with joy. Their perennial, wide smiles never fail to charm us interns. One experience at this kind of reception is enough to wipe away any trace of sadness or homesickness. We wave back at them and smile as the wind whips our hair and clothes. The scenery of green fields, maize fields, and eucalyptus trees are so enrapturing to us that we can’t help but enjoy every boda boda ride, which, fortunately, happened almost every day. 
This experience was one of the most memorable of all during my time spent in Uganda. The positive energy and generosity of the people in Iganga is incredibly contagious. I felt this energy thriving in all the community groups, including the newest: Butende Women’s Group. They were eager to work, absorb skills, spread knowledge, and thus improve their community. The only challenge I noticed was when this enthusiasm would falter, usually due to the lack of money/resources or the push of encouragement and presence from the SAFE interns. 
The first meeting in Kalalu that we attended was extremely enlightening. Because I did not understand the Igangan native language Lusoga, I was forced to focus on and interpret body and facial language. Through this I realized the crucial importance of developing language skills in public health. However, Medie was an excellent translator. Through him I was able to converse with many of the members of the community groups. During meetings like these my fellow interns and I had the opportunity to plan and improve SAFE projects such as the SAFE Mama Kit and G-Nut Nutrition programs. All of the community groups are eager to develop sustainable gardens (passion fruit or g-nut) in order to fund these outreach programs. 
Dancing and dramas at the Lubira Health Fair
Another memorable aspect of my practicum experience was observing the dramas and song and dance performances that many community members utilize to teach maternal health. It is an innovative teaching method that replaces the standard first world method of conveying knowledge (television, newspapers, radio) that most do not have access to in the rural areas of Iganga. Julia Chang and I actually got a chance to dance with one women’s group when they were rehearsing deep in the woods away from Lubira Health Clinic. I knew that that was my golden opportunity to dance since the trees were blocking us from the rest of the community members! That was definitely an exhilarating moment! 

I think the highlight of my entire practicum experience was the day of the huge fair SAFE helped to organize in order to celebrate the installation of the new solar suitcase that SAFE & We Care Solar brought to the Lubira Health Clinic. It was an honor to meet the founder (Laura) of We Care Solar, her husband, Hal, and her daughter. Laura is an inspiration to me because she is an Ob-Gyn medical doctor from the USA who dedicates a lot of time to teaching others on how to use the solar suitcase effectively. Hal is also inspirational—I think he was a huge contributor to the actual design of the solar suitcase itself. Before the fair started, Hal and Medie installed the suitcase in the clinic while Laura taught many of the clinic staff and some community members on how to operate it. Once the program of the fair began, there were plenty of dramas, songs, socializing, and bonding between SAFE, We Care Solar, and the Igangan community. Overall, my experience with SAFE and the Igangan community was refreshing, humbling, and immensely gratifying. I will not hesitate to support this community and SAFE in the future. I will also never forget the genuine smiles and generous hearts of the Igangans. I am proud to have discovered a home away from home in Uganda. =)

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