A Change of Perspective

July 05, 2013
Naama group
Our meeting with the Local Leaders (LC1) who have been helping us navigate the villages for surveying. Photo Credit: John Davis

By Sejal Lahoti

“Try to put your feet in someone else’s’ shoes” is a common saying that I had always heard growing up. Administrating our surveys in this community has unlocked a window which has given me the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of people in Naama, Uganda.

My survey inquires about maternal and child health from women who have been pregnant in Naama, Uganda. This previous week I was surveying at a home where a woman was twenty years old and had three children, a household, and a full time job in the fields. Realizing that this woman was the same age as I am was an eye-opening experience to view how diverse life can be for a girl depending on where she lives. Through my surveys, I have learned that many women start having children around age 17 or earlier.  I have also found out a lot of interesting data about the use of family planning in this community and the factors that can influence its use.

John’s survey garners information about malaria treatment and prevalence. Through his research and shadowing at the hospital, I have seen that the prevalence of malaria is particularly high in children. Even though the government has provided free nets for pregnant and children under five, many of the nets have only been treated many years ago or households do not have enough nets for the entire family. At the hospital, it is disheartening that there are not enough beds for children to stay for long periods of time. Even if a child has severe malaria, they might be turned away due to a lack of resources.  

Ben’s survey is intriguing because he is looking at cardiovascular disease and non-communicable diseases. There is a common misconception that low income countries face only communicable disease even though there is a significant prevalence of non-communicable diseases as well. Many of the people we have surveyed are famers, and it is remarkable to learn that a majority of their diets consist of the foods grown in their fields. These foods mostly include sweet potato, cassava, matoke (a kind of banana), meat, and peanuts. Ben’s survey also addresses how much money a household makes in a week. One woman who is a farmer responded that she makes 30, 000 shillings for a family of 10 where 1 dollar is equivalent to approximately 2590 shillings.

As a foreigner looking into this community, it would be impossible for me to fully understand the way of life and the culture in Naama, Uganda. However, I have enjoyed these past few weeks of taking the first steps to attain the knowledge.