Let’s first say, this event took a lot of work to put it together. In Uganda, there is a certain protocol for everything you do or want to do…. You must use a strict chain of command and involve everyone; literally everyone along the chain and outside is brought in. This can cause delays and frustrations, but in the end once everyone has come together and you see who actually wants to be involved and is willing support the project, you can finally get to work. Now, the concept of volunteering is a really foreign concept. For this event, we needed volunteers to provide health information, to test people and to entertain the guests. Well, there were a few minor/major hick-ups along the. Communicating “you will volunteer?”, for example. For us we would say “yes I can” or “no I can’t”. For them, they said “Yes” then they expected money…. ? Honestly, we had to reiterate that they were not getting paid over and over, just to have them still asking “so how much do we get paid?” Thankfully in the end, thanks to great staff at the health center the receiver was able to decode the message without any noise.....yeah.
This was the 1st ever World AIDS Day Event in our town. So, it was a pretty big deal to the people involved. We kicked off with a week of HIV/AIDS outreach. Matt and his Counterparts did an awesome job providing HIV/AIDS awareness, demonstrating correct condom use, distributing lots of condoms and encouraging people to go get tested. Overall, around 300 people were reached.
The main event was held on Saturday, and we must say it was a huge success. We ended up having more than 500 participants, which was far more than we expected. During the event, we had volunteers giving out health information in a sort of health exhibition. There was information from malaria and prevention to family planning, hand washing to tippy tap construction, HIV prevention, nutrition and breastfeeding.We were lucky to find an amazing local drama group that entertained everyone all day with songs, local dances and skits. One scene even involved a witch doctor and a live goat on stage… the audience loved it. There was a well done debate on HIV and stigma and even an audience game show that Ashley hosted. We spent a few weeks working with a group of children from a local primary school and they performed a poem, skit, rhyme and song that went over really well with the audience with its theme of “parents please get tested!” Overall the goal of the day was to have people tested so they could know their status.
Our goal was 200 and we are happy to say the goal was reached with a total of 228 people tested!
Overall the week was a great success!
This event taught us so many lessons in planning events while in Uganda, and although we had a few struggles here and there we are excited to have the opportunity to plan more in the future with our great partner organizations.
|Outreach to the local boda men|
|Boda Man demonstrating correct condom usage|
|Outreach to Mothers at a local clinic|
|Come and Join Us!|
|Matt was a "celebrity" at the event and got tested to encourage others|
|Volunteer teaching hand washing|
|Volunteer giving nutrition infomration|
|Drama group....yes that is a goat|
|They really wanted us to dance|
|Matt and our co-planners|
|Some volunteers after the event|