days in a row we have been out in the field doing cooking demonstrations as
part of the Harvest Plus program establishing orange sweet potatoes and high
iron beans in SW Uganda using Volunteer Health Teams. The VHTs at the three sites we visited are
among the best of the many Healthy Child Uganda (HCU) sites.
|Health Education |
There are a couple
of other NGOs working in the area on different issues with the rural health
units. One such group I just learned
about is the USAID-funded SecuringUganda’s Resources for Essential Medicines (SURE). The health units at Ryamiyonga HC II staffed
by Nursing Aid Agnes and Kibaare HC II staffed by Nursing Aid Keneth
are both sporting their prizes when I arrive.
|VHTs and Their Community Members Gather|
Agnes has a lovely bright green and blue T-shirt while Keneth has a
similarly coloured cap because they won first prize among all the other rural
HCs. They proudly tell me that they are
always winning the prizes because their health units are well run and
managed. I can believe it, as they both
run a tight ship and I would also like to credit their training as Trainers for
the VHTs at which they both excell. I tentatively suggest this and sure enough they
agree with me.
|A Balanced Meal|
are in Ryamiyonga. Each VHT who attends
has brought with them two community members, most of them mother with children
under five. The cooking demo has been slated
for the same day as Immunization, so the mothers can also get their under
fives’ immunized. In addition to the
invited guests the porch of the Health Center is packed with women and
children, as many as 30 sit on benches.
We have received a call from Keneth, the health worker, to pick up his
vaccines at local HC IV depot. This
takes a while as they do not have a proper vaccine carrier and a box has to be
outfitted with dry ice for the half hour.
Fire wood has been collected, peeling is started and the foods people
have brought to produce a balanced diet are prepare. This group has lots of OSP and organize to
steam hem with their skins on. I am not
sure who we are demonstrating to because most of those attending are familiar
with both beans and sweet potatoes.
|Shucking High Iron Beans|
coordinator, Angella, does a health education presentation on the Balanced Diet
using the brightly coloured Harvest Plus poster she has brought. She then asks one the VHTs to do a session on
Vitamin A. They seem reluctant, but one
finally agrees. Angella then
demonstrates the flannel board story, Stone Soup, which highlights the food
groups and properties of micronutrients, Vitamin A, iron and iodine. She asks for someone to do a return
demonstration and a young girl from the community steps forward, assisted by
the group. After we are finished, Agnes
asks if she can get these felt pieces.
She tells me she has felt remaining
so I tell her I will make and send the patterns to her. It is hard for VHTs to keep teaching the same
health messages and new materials and new approaches are always in demand.
|Using the Harvest+ Poster|
has supplied beans and OSP from their own harvest, so time is spend shucking
the beans. They request but do not
receive even token payment although beans have been provided by the project to
the other groups. It seems like
penalizing those who are most
independent. As well they have brought
pumpkin, onions, potatoes, greens, Irish potatoes, small eggplant and sweet
potatoes for a balanced meal. I notice
the banana bark “patch” in the bottom of the potato basket, a lovely example of
thrift and the extensive use given even simple household items here.
|Kigezi Basket with Banana Leaf Repair|
The VHTs sing a couple of their health education on Maternal and Child Health and their anthem about their own volunteering for the visitors, a way to remember all the details and information. So far they do not have songs about nutrition but we expect them shortly. A group of local "raggamuffin" kids join us, listening carefully. We hope they will at least be still around when the meal is cooked but by then they have all disappeared. We need to find a way to get OSP to them too.
|VHTs Sign Their HEd Songs|
Certainly as the OSP are washed and prepared it is obvious that there will be plenty for everyone to sample, even to consume in plenty. While Ryamiyonga is high up on the hill and often cooler than other parts of this subdistrict, it has always been a fertile place full of hardworking farmers.
What a joyous evenT to celebrate. When we finally sit down to eat, Agnes, the health worker who supervises the VHTs in this area has finally finished her clinic and is able to join us.
|Plenty of OSP for the Community|