The post for today is written by one of the pharmacy students but before that, I wanted to let you know how cool it has been today. You hear “Africa” and think “hot”, or at least I did. Tonight, though here in Masindi, Uganda, we are all sitting outside eating our dinner wearing at least long sleeves and long pants and some of us are in sweatshirts. And we just ordered hot chocolate! We had a big thunderstorm overnight and then its been cloudy most of the day with some additional rain. I don’t have a thermometer, but it probably around 64-65 but the dampness makes it seem cooler. It is hard to believe that yesterday I walked all over town and was sweating horribly by the time I got back to the hotel and tomorrow it is probably more likely to be hot than cool. Another interesting Uganda fact is that they have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night so it doesn’t get light until about 6:30am and it is totally dark by 7pm. Ok, on with Melissa’s blog…
Blog Post from Masindi, Uganda by Melissa Dickerson
As we began our first week in Masindi, I was fortunate enough to volunteer with the Red Cross of Uganda. For the past two days Stephanie and I have traveled to several different schools in the area to provide cholera education. We visited two primary schools (grade 1-7) and two secondary schools (grade 9-12 and A levels). In Uganda, after grade 12 (known here as senior 4) students who are motivated to go to University must pass an exam to continue onto A level. If their scores are good enough in A level they can then move on to University.
Although there is no current outbreak of cholera near Masindi, it is important for people to be educated about cholera, how to prevent it, and what to do if someone gets cholera. Making the session as interactive as possible, we spoke with the school kids about what cholera is, how it is transmitted, the signs and symptoms of cholera, causes, prevention, and treatment. The main focus was on good personal hygiene, drinking clean boiled water, proper hand washing, using the latrine, and eating clean, well-cooked food. The children were very respectful and we received very good participation from almost all of the grade levels (especially the younger levels). We were greeted by all the heads of the schools who welcomed us kindly. Although in Uganda they learn English in school and almost anyone who has had schooling speaks English, as foreigners we seem to have an accent. A member of the Red Cross accompanied us to the schools to help translate into the native dialect as needed (this was mainly only needed in the very youngest children).
I was very impressed with some of the children’s knowledge of cholera, proper sanitation, and disposal of wastes. I do feel that our visit was a good reinforcement for good hygiene practices and everyone learned something new from our presentation. Out of all the classes only 1 person could demonstrate to us how to properly wash their hands. Proper hand washing includes washing with soap and clean water, scrubbing for at least 15 seconds, cleaning under your finger nails, washing the exposed skin on your arms, and letting your hands air dry (not wiping on clothing). At the end of the discussion we took questions from the students. I was impressed with the questions we were asked, such as ” if you use your dirty hand to turn on the water tap, and then use your clean hand to turn if off, won’t you get those germs on your clean hand?”
Mike and Ben will continue the education on Wednesday and Thursday in 4 different schools.
Below is a video in which a student demonstrates near perfect handwashing technique. The only thing she missed is that all of the exposed skin on the arms should have been washed, but this was the best demonstration of the day!