Friday, July 05, 2013

Prize Winning MUST Rural Student Projects

Kisoro Group
The student groups at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) who won prizes for their rural field projects in 2012 have all collected their prize money and submitted their reports.  The prizes which have inspired this blossoming of student creativity have come from the Hillman Medical Education Fund, which established 1st, 2nd and 3rd place prizes of $900, $650 and $450 respectively.  All 30 groups competed for the prizes and the competition was fierce.
Old Pit Latrine
When the rural placements began at MUST, the students did surveys. That is, they asked the same questions and collected virtually the same data each year.   It was the same in medical schools around the world.  On the good side, our students were learning how to collect and record data.  On the bad side, nothing was being done about problems we already knew a lot about. 
Kisoro Group Meets Community
About the same time, the World Health Organization came up with a directive to field workers of all stripes, No Survey Without Service.  At MUST, the head of the Community Health Dept at the time decided to discontinue the surveys so the students could spend more time getting to know the community.  We would ask them to find things to do in the community such as  health education at the local schools, document how schools for disabled were managing with scarce resources, talk to the community groups looking after AIDS orphans and respond to local cholera outbreaks.  More formalized community projects began a couple of years ago with the Leadership Training Program.  As there are more trained community-based health workers in communities, the students were directed to work with them to come up with their community project. 
New Pit Latrine Being Constructed
Students, often city- dwellers, arrive in their placements struck by how horrid, brutish and mean rural life is.  But they return from their placements,  often wanting to return, amazed that they have enjoyed so much working with rural people and energized by being able to give back to the community.  
Rubana Community Meeting
In 2012 all the three winning groups did projects related to sanitation.  They demonstrated how to make Tippy Taps beside latrines for hand washing, encouraged building of pit latrines and made latrine covers with community. 
The groups presented their projects to the MUST Scientific conference as well as the Medical Education for Equitable Services to All Ugandans Consortium (MESAU).  Two groups used their prize money to present projects at a scientific conference in Kampala.  They gained experience in writing up and presenting projects as well as in fielding comments and questions about their experiences.  They also learned new skills in preparing budgets and project report.
The 2nd place group who had spent time at Kibitto HC III in Western Uganda decided to use their prize money to partner with the Eco-Schools project in SW Uganda.   Eco- Schools are part of Conservation Efforts for Community Development, (CECOD) which supports a curriculum about environment sensitization and sustainability in primary schools. 

Demonstrating Tippy Tap in Rubanda
They used their prize money to plan a 5 day tour of 15 primary schools in Isingiro, Mbarara and Bushenyi districts.  At each school they took the items needed to make 2 Tippy Taps.  They did one tippy Tap as a demo for the schools and then supervised boys and girls in constructing a second  Tippy Tap.  A practical return demonstration technique of health promtoion.  The group spent their holiday time during the last week of June in the field.  They will be presenting their innovative project at the scientific conference at MUST next November.  We look forward to hearing about it.
 Photos: 1-3 Kisoro Gp; 4-5 Rubanda Gp



Blogger Wilfred Arubaku said...

Dear Kay
Thanks for vividly presenting the work of the MUST students and raising awareness about the developments at MUST.

3:18 AM  
Blogger Kay Wotton said...

Thanks for your kind comments and for dropping by on my blog, Wilfred

12:26 PM  

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