I am an applied medical anthropologist beginning my PhD in Public Health this fall. For the second summer in a row, I will travel with my research partner, Ginger Mckay, to Kampala, Uganda. Last summer, we evaluated an HIV education program for children developed by the Savannah Sunrise Foundation, which is a non-profit organization. We we will be residing in Kampala from the end of May until the end of July to conduct additional fieldwork. This summer, our colleague Nicole Smith will be joining us as we wrap up our project.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

5/31- 6/4

Today I woke up at 8 am, again! I think I am adjusting well, and I don’t even need an alarm clock. Other than going to the grocery store, and eating lunch, we stayed at the house virtually all day. We had three visitors, Cathy from the SAS foundation came by to talk to us briefly about our summer plans. Our friend Pharouk stopped by for some tea, and he drove Nicole to find an ATM that would work. Even though she tried a few times, turning her card and trying various strategies, Pharouk got it to work the first time. Kitufu! Later, Moses came over. It’s his 2 year anniversary with his girlfriend, Sonja, and we had arranged for them to have a skype date. It was a slow day, and I am anxious to begin work tomorrow.

We made it to Mary’s house by 10, proving that we are now experts at “keeping time.” Mary is one of the few Ugandans who really means 10 am when she says it, so she was happy when we arrived promptly. She calls us her white children. When she first saw us she tried to pick me up, then she really did pick Ginger up. Mary had lots of exciting news to share with us. We met her new boyfriend, Henry, who she plans to marry within the year. She invited us to the wedding and I think I am going to try to come, maybe just for a week next summer. It would be so much fun, and Mary is like a mother to me. She also has a new housemaid, Rosemarie, who is from her village in the west. Other exciting pieces of news for Mary: she bought a car within the last eight months, and her eldest daughter gave birth to her first grandson. His name is Shem and he is 3 months old. Things are going very well for Mary and her family right now. When she described buying her RAV-4 she told us she just said, “To hell with the matatus, and to hell with the bodas! It’s too risky!” haha.

While Nicole and I accompanied Mary to our first school observation of this season, Ginger made her way to the foundation. We are already dividing up which will make things so much easier to accomplish. Ginger met us later on, and it was nice to do an observation with all of us in attendance. The children are wonderful. I love them. I warned Nicole that they slap you and run away, and they will swarm you when they see a camera and so she wasn’t surprised when it happened. I’m glad I did because the school we went to has over 2 thousand students, and the classes are huge. We were outside when they went to lunch and it was organized chaos in the courtyard. Nicole brought a Polaroid so we can leave a picture with each class and they LOVE it! It’s such a fantastic idea, and much appreciated. We watched Seinfeld when we got home, which always makes us happy. Thanks, Mike, for letting me bring a few DVDs!!

Eggs and toast for breakfast! We made it to the foundation at 10, where we accompanied Echiba to another new school. SAS has begun to target schools with large populations in the city. We had a successful meeting with Echiba afterwards, and made plans for our summer research, including focus groups, traveling to the North, and conducting more observations and interviews. We also discussed the one thousand or more pretests we have to grade. Echiba told us there are more from Hoima, and we also think we should administer them in these new large schools so we have TONS to do. One exciting piece of news: Echiba told us that in lieu of a charity walk, they are going to do a music festival to communicate HIV this year. The festival will be themed and based upon traditional dance/music most likely. Echiba said that music and dance is a way to show the “emotional scenes and occurrences” that HIV/AIDS fosters within the community. I think it’s the best idea ever. We ate at the pizza place we loved last year, and went home. We’ve been losing power a lot lately

We graded tests for 3 hours and barely made a dent. For lunch today, we ate bush crickets and ants. I still don’t like htem much, but Ginger seems to enjoy them a lot, the bush crickets anyway. She dips them I ketchup. I just really dislike the antennas. I can’t separate from my mind that I’m eating a bug when they crunch. We had coffee at Roses, and basically ate 2 lunches. I forgot how much people make you eat here.

Nicole isn’t feeling well, so we went to the soccer match with Moses without her. I think it’s best she didn’t come because we walked a lot and it was pretty hot out. She would have felt worse for sure. After Moses’ team won, we decided to go watch Uganda play Guinea Bissau and stopped by the house for Gigner to get her Uganda Jersey. Nicole felt well enough to join us, so we all went to Steak Out and watched Uganda win 2-0. It was fun, and an early night.

We went to church with Mary, and it was very similar to last year. There were a few differences, however. This time, it lasted 4 hours. Also, there were traditional Buganda dancers and a collection for one of the 5 pastors weddings. We put 5K in an envelope around hour three. Then, at the end, one of the pastors passed earrings around. Whoever got a pair was asked to donate 5K for the wedding. Even though Mary go a pair, she handed them to me to buy them, so we ended up giving 10K UGX for the wedding. Interestingly, before the asked for money the second time, they passed out an itemized list of wedding expenses.

After church we hung out with the family, and played with baby Shem. He has lighter skin than his relatives and they kept joking that he looked like he was white and more related to us. I loved holding him, and he was so sweet and well behaved. He ate a lot, and they were giving him a bottle. Playing with Shem sort of makes me want a baby, which is something I never really felt before. I don’t know what’s happening to me!! When we ate lunch, the three of us shared 2 plates, which were not as full as everyone elses. We got seconds, which made Mary happy. Nicole ate her first sugar cane, and we had a great time. We were at Mary’s from 9:30 to 5. We got home at 6. It was a long day. I am also getting sick, which I really dislike. I didn’t bring any sinus medication, so I am going to look for some at the store today (Monday). More pictures coming soon!!

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