John took us to three village information centers, one of which was supported by the GROW team last year, the Kidoko Village Information Center which is directed by a man named Paul. The GROW team last year installed a solar panel at the VIC in Kidoko which has been incredibly successful. The solar panel has drastically increased the viability of the center in the local community (which according to Paul serves between 10,000-15,000 households) as members visit the centers daily to see the daily crop prices and charge their cell phones. One of the many NGOs that Paul is partnered with is Agrinet, which accumulates crop data and formulates it into indexes, which it sends to Paul via mobile phone. Paul then posts the prices of the crops (groundnuts, maize, cassava, millet, rice, soya, sugarcane, and others) on the board outside the VIC. At around 4PM each day, the farmers congregate to buy and sell their crop. Health NGOs such as Plan-Uganda, Taso, and Theta as well as the government health ministry run programs at the VICs, seizing on the large numbers of community members that frequent the centers daily.

Services provided include education on family planning, nutrition, sanitation, HIV/AIDS, and neglected tropical diseases, medical care, vaccinations, and health discussions. Paul is the focal point for monitoring the community members that are receiving treatment and vaccinations, providing data and information for the local health NGOs mentioned. We visited two other centers that Paul has started in two local communities which are not as developed, but are promising. Two of the leaders at the Merikit VIC were ready to expand their outreach programs, with a focus on delivering health care information to as many members of their community as possible. All the VICs still maintain a basic principle as agricultural information centers, for all community members are linked to agriculture either through their own small shareholder farms, buying crops for their family, or as traders. With this basic reality, the community is widely mobilized, allowing VIC leaders to coordinate with health NGOs to effectively educate, treat and vaccinate a significant percentage of the community. Paul and other VIC leaders (Vincent, Charles, and Pius) all reiterated the drastic improvement the VICs have had in improving the health of their communities.

We are planning on visiting the final 8 VICs in Tororo on Monday and Tuesday. After which we will meet with John as a team and, then, with the VIC directors, develop a targeted project for the remaining time we are here, and how we will spent the money GlobeMed raised this year. We have a number of promising ideas, but we want to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment first to ensure what we decide to do is the most sustainable and effective project. We are looking forward to catching up on sleep this weekend, hiking Tororo Rock, going to a church service Sunday, and watching the UEFA Cup Final –

We were deeply pleased by a number of random horticultural gifts bestowed upon us by Paul, pineapples, mangos, and avocados. We bought a knife, bathmat, a large water jug, a metal pot, plates and forks, and dish soap – all of which we struggled to carry home on bodas but managed quite well – we were shocked at their ability to navigate the muddy roads, though some of us were sprayed comprehensively by mud. We have been without water but it has not dampened our spirits, as we are planning on watching a movie in the larger cottage tonight all together, eating our Indian inspired lunches and chippati (millet bread).

Loving you all from our somewhat grimy beds,
GROW 2011.

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eating breakfast outside of the cottages on day 2

part of this building houses the A2N Tororo office

informal swahili lessons

day 1 culturally-appropriate garb

tororo rock...hoping to climb soon

We have begun to settle in in our new home in Tororo! Yesterday was a long, long day and we definitely went to bed (under our difficult-to-assemble mosquito nets) ready for a good night’s sleep. We are staying in two cottages on a compound out of the town. They are certainly pretty rustic—we’re getting used to cold showers— but beginning to feel like home.

Today, Rachel and Sarah got up early and went to the market with Annette, the daughter of the woman who owns the compound in which we’re staying, and bought bread and eggs, which they used to make breakfast in the communal kitchen. We then took botas (motorbike taxis) to the A2N office in Tororo. There, we met with John and created a tentative plan for our weeks here. In the next few days, we are going to visit the Village Information Centers that the GROW team worked with last year and assess their needs, as well as the needs of centers that are sponsored by PLAN Uganda (another health NGO). We’re going to attend some community meetings in the Tororo area and evaluate whether a creating a new Village Information Center sponsored by GlobeMed would be needed or feasible. We also met with the head security officer of the district of Tororo to register with the district and ensure our safety throughout our stay. We had dinner at the restaurant at the Prime Hotel, where we finally saw another “muzungu” (white person).

Other favorite moments of the day included many rides on the botas, which are exhilarating and the most efficient means of communication. John connected us with a village elder who taught us some swahili, and the locals had a good time laughing at our attempts at learning the language. We practiced all day, particularly with the bota drivers, who seemed equally amused. Phoebe and Ellen also evoked uproarious laughter from both sides of one of the main streets of Tororo as they tried to navigate the (only) busy street in town. Sam and Rachel went running this afternoon, evoking making strange looks from passersby. Tomorrow morning we all hope to get a workout in, with the alarms set aggressively for 7am. Rachel, Sam and Ellen also enjoyed juggling the soccer ball with some locals in front of the main house.

We will check in again soon, as our internet is now effective!

We have safely arrived to Uganda. Travel went smoothly. We are on our way to Tororo and have purchased a cell phone. We are all very tired, dehydrated but happy to be here. We will post again soon.

Lots of love
The Grow Team

Hi Everyone!!

So we’re on hour #8 or so of our layover in the Heathrow airport…good times. Doing a lot of sleeping, card playing, and eating. We’ve become familiar with the other odd characters who have spent the full day sleeping on random couches in the airport. Thankfully there are lots of shops through which to stroll.
I think we’re all feeling a bit worse for wear and really ready to get on our next plane and get to Entebbe – there, John and our aptly named driver, Moses, from A2N will pick us up and drive us straight to Tororo (we’ve made an agreement with Middlebury to bypass Kampala completely). Once there, we’ve learned we’ll be staying at John’s “complex.” Not entirely sure what this means, but we’ve come up with many ideas/fantasies. Hoping for a lush back yard. Chances of this are slim to none. Hmm, what else to report? Not much for now. We have one laptop with us and will try and purchase a modem at some point while in Tororo – not sure how to deal with that yet. Otherwise it’s internet cafés all the way! We are very grateful for Rachel’s flip cam. It’s been lots of fun.
Welp! Off to dinner in the airport! Seven restaurants to choose from, so many options. Fingers crossed for a safe flight to Entebbe. Sam’s mom gave us each little guardian angel pennants that are keeping us safe.

Lots of love!
Sam, Rachel, Phoebe, Ellen, and Sarah

The Blog for the Middlebury GlobeMed Chapter’s GROW trip 2011 has been officially set up! Hooray!

There is less than one month until the ship sets sail (the plane flies away).

This year there are five incredibly smart, talented, and hardworking,

individuals going to Uganda as embassadors for the Middlebury Chapter.

Sam Peisch, Phoebe Carver, Ellen Halle, Sarah Consagra and Rachel Madding will be leaving May 23rd from Boston arriving on the morning of the 25th to Entebbe and then flying home June 22.  Some of the trip is still being finalized but we will post our trip’s itinerary as soon as it is finalized.

We are not sure how often we will have internet access and therefore be able to post but our hope is a couple times a week.

We should be able to share photos and videos here too so please visit our blog, comment or send a message!!!

Thanks!

The 2011 GROW team

Hello everyone!

We will be presenting this weekend at the Annual Clifford Symposium here at Middlebury College this Saturday, from 9.30-12 in Bicentennial Hall.
The Symposium promises to be a great event, check out the full schedule HERE. There are tons of great speakers and interesting panels, movies, etc. If you’re around and interested come stop by the poster session to hear more about A2N, see our poster, lots of pictures, and some video clips!

Hi all.
I am very sorry on behalf of our whole group for our lack of posts!! While we were in Uganda, it was really difficult to find good enough internet to check our email, let alone load the blog or upload pics. SAD.
Now that we’ve finally sorted through a lot of photos, I thought I would upload some pictures that outline our trip a little bit better so that everyone can SEE what we were up to!

Our last night in London, the 4 of us crammed into this big bed! Goodbye, London - Hellooo Uganda!

Owen is prepared for everything to come. Haha, this is taken outside one of our favorite restaurants, called Hotel Crystal. We ate many lunches there of chapati, rice, beans, vegetable and g-nut sauce.

This is in the hallway of our little apartment at Hotel Dalex, which doubled as our kitchen! That's the stove that John very kindly leant us. Harriet, Em and Anna are cooking a really gourmet meal of pasta with cheese (that mysteriously lasts forever - requires no refrigeration, hmm). The power went out a lot, so headlamps were essential.


This is Jacinta! She was one of the Africa 2000-Tororo staff, and was wonderful. Her official role was administrative supervisor, I believe - she kept the office running! She had us over for a great Ugandan lunch our first weekend at her house, and showed us around the town, helping us get settled, and find the best places to buy fresh bread and good veggies. She also brought us out to visit the different centers, and introduced us to all the Village Information Facilitators.


The four girls outside our front door. This was the night we had our new Ugandan friends and colleagues over to hang out, chat, and drink some Club beers!

Emmy's in the truck in Asinge- that big board was one of the common features of all the centers. It's used daily to post information in the villages, about health, agriculture and market information. For example, this one advertised baby piglets and upcoming vaccines! The crowd that gathered had come to see what we were up to, and we promised on this visit to return soon... Eventually we did, to install a sign and a solar panel!!

Our first installed sign in the Asinge C Village!! Complete with all our new little friends..


Another sign at the center called 'Corner Village.' The different facilitators are also in the picture!


This was the sign installed at Oriyoi. The kids were just coming home from school as we installed it. They hung out at the center, watching us put it up, and then came to be in the photo with the finished product!


Sorry you can't see the name at the top, but this is at UTRO. This sign is on a major road, so hopefully it will attract people to the center, a little ways down the road. Our pirate/preacher/potential husband friend is on the far right -- he kept offering Ben different quantities of various animals for our hands in marriage!


John, Richard, a girl whose name I forget, Stephen and Moses! John worked with us, Richard and Moses are his childhood friends, and Stephen worked at Dalex. They were all SO kind and always willing to help. We brought them over to our place, and taught them how to play beer pong... They were Team Uganda, and we were Team America. They beat us, badly.


The solar light turned on for the first time in Asinge! The little lantern below is what they used for light before the panel was installed. Such a big difference!! There was a BIG crowd out for the lighting 🙂 ALSO, can you see the sign lightly chalked on the side of the building?? That was the OLD sign, advertising the center. Compare it with the new one -- what a difference!!

John and the group in Dr. Bagheiri's office at TASO-Tororo, one of the larger (USAID/PEPFAR-funded) NGO's that supports the centers. We met with the Doctor, who owns Hotel Dalex, and were given a fantastic tour of the center. We also talked about how we hope to continue to work together and build our partnership in the future. If YOU want to support TASO, become a friend here: http://www.tasouganda.org/index.php?option=com_artforms&formid=1&Itemid=99999

Patients gathered for treatment and counseling at a clinic day at the TASO Tororo center!


This is the children's playroom at the TASO center. They give them food here, and provide coloring books and books, etc. both for children living with HIV/AIDS, and for the children of patients.


Happiness in Kidoko!

This is the whole group at our lighting ceremony in Kidoko. Paul, the Kidoko facilitator is on the far right. He was a great guy, and put together a wonderful ceremony that celebrated the A2N and GlobeMed partnership. Really, though, the focus is on the great work that the individual centers do.

The group, John, and some children who came hiking with us in front of one of the big waterfalls in Sipi, where we went for a weekend getaway.

Keep checking back – we’ll continue to put up pics, stories and some reflections! Thanks!!

GREETINGS! We are in Jinja. Yesterday, we said a sad farewell to Tororo and came here to try our hand at rafting the White Nile. We succeeded. The Nile was strong, but we had an amazing raft guide named Nolan who helped us conquer the class 5 rapids. We never flipped, even though every other raft did. YES! Owen was the only one who fell out of the boat and got swept away into the current, but we rescued him eventually. It was an amazing day (Emmy claims one of the top 20 days of her life) and watching the USA vs. England game was the perfect ending to our adventure. Harriet and Ben had to head back to Entebbe this afternoon and it was a sad goodbye. The rest of us decided to hang back in Jinja as it has been a nice change of pace from our hectic days in Tororo. We are happy with all that we were able to accomplish over the last two and a half weeks and have made a strong connection with the Africa 2000 Network.

Right now, we are sitting in bar/lounge of the Adrift River Base Camp, relaxing and waiting for the soccer games to start. We’re doing a little research, trying to finalize our plans for the next 10 days. We have gotten some advice from the staff here, and are looking forward to exploring other parts of Uganda!

Peace and Love,

The GROW Team

receiving our chickens from the asinge village as thanks for installing a new signpost and solar panel

Sorry we haven’t updated in SO long!! We have been insanely busy implementing our project, but we are officially DONE! We had 5 signs made for 5 Village Information Centers, and all of them are now up. Also, we bought and installed 2 solar panels in 2 villages- Asinge and Kidoko. Our experiences installing the different things was fantastic. All of the information center managers were very grateful and excited. We even got some presents: 2 chickens and a goat! The week was definitely long, but we all feel that we’ve really accomplished a lot here, and can’t wait to share everything with GlobeMed at Midd and the rest of our friends and family.
Last night, we had a party/official flipping of the solar switch out at Kidoko Village. The chairman came, and a number of other representatives from other NGOs. Very very exciting and fun.

Last weekend we had an exciting trip up to Sipi Falls, where we stayed at a great place called the Crows Nest, and hiked up to see some beautiful waterfalls. We had a little bit of excitement when our bag, with our passports in it, was stolen. But! Thanks to a very helpful group of men in the village, the bag was recovered. Chaotic, but ultimately everything worked out.

We’re sad that today is our last day in Tororo! This morning, we hiked Tororo Rock, one of the landmarks here in the small city where we’ve been living and working. We also just finished watching the opening game of the World Cup! South Africa tied Mexico, but SA scored first and being in the middle of an outdoor sports bar (called Motel Dot Com, haha) in Tororo center, with people all in the street watching the TV during that goal was AMAZING.

Tomorrow we all go to Jinja, the small city on Lake Victoria at the source of the Nile River. We’ve decided to go white water rafting! Should be wild. Sunday we head back to Kampala, as Ben and Harriet fly out on Monday morning. Emmy, Owen, Anna and Hannah are going to hang in Kampala for a bit before going to western Uganda on safari to Queen Victoria National Park, and out to the Sesse Islands for a few days!

Once back in the bigger cities we’ll try to put up a bunch of pictures and videos, as well as some longer descriptions of what we’ve been up to!!

Now we’re off to go eat some goat and chicken…. I think the boys are excited.

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GlobeMed

Africa 2000 Network – Uganda

Funders

Check back to view the complete list of funders, businesses and grants that will be making our trip possible:

- Middlebury College Academic Outreach Endowment Grant
- Middlebury College Cross-Cultural Community Service Grant
- GlobeMed GROW Grant

Contact hjudge@middlebury.edu to learn more about how you can support our project.

Destination: Tororo!