International Women’s Day 2014!

We started the day very early in the morning at 1 AM so that we could join with 3 radio reports. Unfortunately it rained at night so we struggled, but it was still a very successful day and we reached more than 700 people in total…

The first event was organized by Matove Beads Development Association (MABEDA). They celebrated women and cleaned up the local health facility, and gave the health workers a chance to share their challenges with the community which helped the community better understand their position so they could work together to improve it. The rain had made it hard for people to reach the facility, but still more than 50 people turned up for the hour-long celebration and everyone was so happy.

The Lubira community groups–Balindhabeene, Balikyebuza and Alikyenda women groups–organized an incredibly successful day with more than 500 people attending the event! It started with cleaning Lubira Primary School, and then cleaned Lubira Health Center–they swept, slashed the grass down, and burned all the trash. With a clean health facility, each group presented a song and drama about the “war that women go through during delivery.” They were beautiful songs and dramas, and everyone loved them. One of the Lubira politicians gave a closing speech and praised the community groups for having the love and capacity to organize something so good to celebrate International Women’s Day even when the district failed to organize something. He sent his appreciation to the SAFE team for their mentorship and support, which was echoed by all the community groups and community members.

The Kalalu community groups–Kalalu Women’s Voice (KWV), Kamede Men’s Development Association (KAMEDE), Bugya Bukye, and Balibonerawo–held a cleaning activity of the local borehole along with dramas and songs, and more than 80 people attended. It was well-received and everyone celebrated the women of the community. What a successful day!

Launch Day: Health Services

eRanger2This past summer, a group of SAFE’s international interns worked to launch a new eRanger motorcycle ambulance program. The Launch Day celebration brought together some of the most compelling aspects of SAFE’s work. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts about those efforts. Enjoy!

SAFE, along with its community partners, offered various health services at the Launch Day celebration, including maternal and pediatric immunizations, prenatal care and general medical consults. This highlights the way SAFE uses its projects for multiple purposes. In this instance, knowing the launch would draw a crowd of almost a thousand people, it was important to ensure the health facility was prepared to provide preventive and proactive medical treatment. Literally hundreds of people were able to be treated as a result!

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Launch Day: Dramas

eRanger2This past summer, a group of SAFE’s international interns worked to launch a new eRanger motorcycle ambulance program. The Launch Day celebration brought together some of the most compelling aspects of SAFE’s work. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts about those efforts. Enjoy!

As part of the Launch Day celebration, various community groups performed dramas for the almost 1,000 people in attendance. They used acting, dance and song to communicate the importance of a health facility delivery, the elements of a safe delivery, the warning signs of complications and the potential impact of the eRanger program in tactfully overcoming common cultural barriers to maternal health.

Some of the dramas started an important dialogue about gender roles by incorporating gender role reversal in their productions, in which men acted like pregnant women and women put on pants to act like their husbands. The performances got each sex thinking about how the experience of reproduction may feel to their spouse.

Because these messages were shared by community members for community members in memorable visual ways, their impact was powerful. People laughed and learned. They continue to benefit from the regular outreach events community groups host to impart this important educational service to their fellow village members.

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Launch Day: Community Groups

eRanger2This past summer, a group of SAFE’s international interns worked to launch a new eRanger motorcycle ambulance program. The Launch Day celebration brought together some of the most compelling aspects of SAFE’s work. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts about those efforts. Enjoy!

Working with community groups is a crucial component of SAFE’s approach to community-based work. Community groups are comprised of both genders, and include men’s groups, women’s groups and co-ed development associations. Members come together to identify problems affecting their collective community, and work with SAFE to understand the real origins of these challenges and the best ways to address them.

The community groups’ influence in promoting maternal and child health goes far beyond what SAFE advocates could do on their own; because they are members of the communities SAFE serves, they bring an intimate and essential knowledge of local viewpoints, challenges and culture.

Bukoteka Bead’s Development Association (Bubeda) is a wonderful example. Bubeda felt that a key problem in their community was adolescent pregnancy and apathy. Beyond addressing this problem in their programs, they decided to directly recruit youth members to join their group. Now roughly half of their total membership is made up of Ugandan youth, and because of it, they are able to influence vulnerable teens and young mothers in positive ways. Many of Bubeda’s members were present at Launch Day, lending helping hands wherever they could. Their performances were youthful and vibrant, appealing to a wide range of audiences.

All of the community groups’ were celebrated at the launch and presented with certificates of appreciation and recognition by the District Nursing Officer who represented the District Health Office.

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Launch Day: eRanger

eRanger2This past summer, a group of SAFE’s international interns worked to launch a new eRanger motorcycle ambulance program. The Launch Day celebration brought together some of the most compelling aspects of SAFE’s work. Over the next two weeks, we’ll be doing a series of posts about those efforts. Enjoy!

The eRanger program, which is partially community-funded through individual family donations, provides motorcycle ambulances for laboring mothers as an efficient means of navigating Ugandan roads and getting women to maternal health facilities safely. The first eRanger program has been working in Ibulanku, Uganda for almost two years; a second program launched in Lubira, Uganda this summer. The Lubira launch was a highly community-driven process. It included the development of an eRanger “task force” comprised of members from all villages served by the eRanger. Drivers were selected by village leaders, then trained in safe, efficient driving practices, first aid and emergency response. Local government officials collected donations from community members to cover the operating costs of the program.

Seen below, one of the drivers takes the inaugural ride with the District Nursing Officer who is in charge of all nurses and midwives in the Iganga District, collectively serving more than 1.2 million people.

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Meet the Interns: Corrinne Sanger

This summer, SAFE will take a group of talented interns to Uganda for seven weeks, putting their skills to use on our latest projects. Meet one such bright, young intern!

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Corrinne Sanger is from Wayne State University in the heart of the Motorcity: Detroit, Michigan. There she studied anthropology and French and offered her musical abilities in double bass performance to the local orchestras and music ensembles, all while working towards applying to medical school! When she’s not thumbing through MCAT flash cards, practicing excerpts from Beethoven symphonies, or keeping up with the latest anthropological research, she enjoys riding her horses, taking her dog on walks in the city, working in the anesthesia research department, and entertaining her family with fun songs on her ukulele. “I am so excited to work with SAFE this summer,” she says, “because I know that this is an opportunity with an organization that will really bring about the kind of change and development that I, as an anthropologist and future physician, want to see in the world and have always hoped to be apart of. Being sensitive to and embracing the rich culture of the people of Uganda, all while integrating and implementing the life-saving and life-sustaining techniques and educational programs that SAFE stands for is what makes me proud to be apart of such an amazing group of people!”

Meet the Interns: Caryn Turner

This summer, SAFE will take a group of talented interns to Uganda for seven weeks, putting their skills to use on our latest projects. Meet one such bright, young intern!

SAFEInterns4Caryn Turner just finished the first year of her Masters in Public Health at the University of Texas where she is a global health major. When she is not writing papers for school she loves to take her dogs out to the park or for a walk around the neighborhood. She also loves spending her weekends with her nephews and niece (Cullen, Jackson and Tybee). She comes from a military family and, as a result, loves traveling. She finds herself with itchy feet quite often, which will be cured very soon when she heads out to Uganda! “I can’t wait to work with SAFE,” she says, “because all I’ve done so far in my masters is learn in the classroom and SAFE has given me the opportunity to actually DO something to initiate a long-lasting positive change in a community. This really gives me the opportunity to do what I’ve wanted to do my whole life, which is work in an international community and help solve a real problem that has been plaguing the people that live there. I could not be more excited to work with SAFE this summer!”

Meet the Interns: Katie Morrison

This summer, SAFE will take a group of talented interns to Uganda for seven weeks, putting their skills to use on our latest projects. Meet one such bright, young intern!

SAFEInterns5Katie Morrison is currently a Master’s in Public Health candidate at Boston University, concentrating in maternal and child health. She had the privilege of traveling to Tanzania, Africa in 2010 with an organization called One Heart Source to help fight the generational cycle of HIV/AIDS and poverty. That experience left her not only inspired to help those left most vulnerable by a weak and unstable political system, but also opened her eyes to what it truly means to be human. “I am beyond excited to continue my journey to further ignite growth and change working with Safe Mothers, Safe Babies this summer,” she says. “I am thrilled to support SAFE in their mission to improve maternal and neonatal health through sustainable and participatory means and cannot wait to partner with communities to ensure all mothers and their babies have the basic right to life.” Apart from her passion for public health she enjoys the outdoors, playing soccer, swimming, baking, and the company of good friends and family.