One of my goals whist participating in the RTC Fellowship program is to get to get closer to the people we're trying to help, understand who it is we're working for. We head off on a five day trip travelling north, and then to the east, visiting Pace branded ProFam clinics on the way and meeting some really great people!
First stop Lira
First stop is Lira. Lira is around 280 kilometers from Kampala. But it takes a lot longer than 280kms to get there. Most of the day across some pretty potholed roads. These are the kind of potholes you have to plan your way down, and back up. Some of those potholes had bridges across them! The trip up is fun. We come across a truck filling around 100, 4 gallon plastic containers full of gas, which they then load into the back of the truck. Nothing could go wrong. we drive past the wreckage of trucks which seem to have just fallen off the road, as if the drivers just fell asleep. One truck, then 500 meters down, another. It's a pandemic! We drive past cows with 5 foot horns. We feed some baboons which are sitting on the side of the road, waiting to be fed. They decide we're not feeding them enough, and so start chasing the car. These things move fast. And they like cameras.
At Lira, we first visit a number of drug shops. These are where the locals go either with a prescription or not, to get basic drugs. The goal is they are also the first point of contact for some of the Pace messages around family planning, and contraception.
And then on to the ProFam clinics. At every one we are greeted as if we're part of the family. We spend time talking to the midwives who generally seem to run the clinics. The clinics themselves are usually pretty basic affairs, with meager facilities... but the other choice is nothing, and that choice often results in either the mother or the child dying either in child birth or the week after child birth. The goal is to get women to the clinics. A challenge given the lack of money they have, and the fact that clinics are often 40 kilometers away.
Over the next few days we move from Lira, onto Soroti, Mbale and Iganga. The towns look very similar, some more modern, some more rural, the stories are all different. We meet some incredible mid-wives, like, Joyce who have been working with the village for decades. we spent an entire afternoon with Joyce, she seemed to delight in showing us around, showing us a video of the drama they held in the village, weaving a beguiling subtitled story over the Luganda voices.
We also meet some amazing Village Health Team workers, who basically serve as the touch point direct into the community. Milly particularly had been working in the community for 45 years, and was a wealth of useful information and ideas on how to better get messages to the women in the community. These are the key to getting mothers mobilized, and getting the message of family 'spacing' out to local women.
I also met Johnson. He told me his father had died, and his mother had brought him to the clinic even though they had no money for medication. He was at the clinic because he had typhoid. He had final exams in a few weeks, and was afraid that he would miss them, or do poorly because he was too sick. His was one of many such stories we heard.
The Pace Team
And we met the teams at Pace. Without exception the atmosphere in each office was one of a family of people. There were jokes, and kids. All the teams were having fun. But they were working, and it was clear they had the end in sight. Elimination of maternal mortality.
Check out Flickr, for more pictures from the field trip.