Friday, October 26, 2012

Shot@Llife Trip Blog: Day 2 Into the Field for Family Health Days

photo by Insider Images

Can you imagine getting dressed in your holiday finest for Christmas or the High Holy Days, heading over to your church or temple, and getting your blood pressure checked...and your kids immunized...and find out your HIV status? That's exactly what was happening at a mosque in a rural district of Uganda where we observed our first Family Health Day. It was a cultural treat to be a part of Eid-Al-Adha, an Islamic festival commemorating Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. As Muslims around the world gathered to celebrate this holiday, hundreds of Ugandans were listening to their Imam tie in the religious message to the need to care for their families and be healthy. Family Health Days were instituted by a partnership between the government and UNICEF to reach rural families where they naturally congregate. A full 90% of Ugandans attend Islamic or Christian religious services, which are more accessible to them than health clinics. So, four times a year the "mountain goes to Muhammad" and critical services are brought out to the people who need them the most. By the way, "cultural treat" included witnessing a real animal sacrifice of a cow. Hey, that story is part of my faith, too, so this is important stuff not to be missed...but I'll spare you the image.

photo by Insider Images
This pic (pictures here by Insider Images), however, is of me talking to 20 year old Aisha in the black and white headscarf. Her daughter is the tiny lady in the pink ruffles and head scarf. They were there with Aisha's mom waiting for immunizations. They both agreed that at 40 I was very old to be a mom of young girls. Thanks, ladies!

It was a beautiful yet hot day, so we all could appreciate how nice it was that these families did not have to walk very far with infants for the event. Mosques are placed close enough that most people can get to them without too much trouble. Afterwards, they all took home meat from the slaughtered cow and sheep, so everyone would enjoy some nutrition in their bellies for the celebration as well.
                                                                                                  photo by Insider Images
The second part of our day was touring another school, which was also providing child health services that day. This time it was a boarding school out away from the city. It was a very different experience from visiting yesterday's school in Kampala. One of the reasons we were there was to see their innovative infrastructure changes that are improving the kid's lives. I'll have a whole post on this later (spoilers: solar, rain collection, and biofuel, oh my!), but lets just say here that it was a lovely time to meet more lovely kids. This time I got to talk to more older kids and hear more about their interests, hopes and dreams. Again, that deserves its own post later. But if we believe in their dreams as much as they do, I believe I met future teachers, executives, presidents, and a chief justice! Here, as everywhere we went, they were very interested in seeing pictures of my own kids. I especially delight in showing them pictures of my girls playing "football" (aka soccer). The kids like that and like to brag about their own skills and yell "Gooooooal!" at me. Here, I'm showing them pictures of my family in hats and coats to show them it's cold where I live.

1 comment:

Eriko said...

Yay ~! Happy Eid! What better way to celebrate a holy day than to take care of the whole family's health.