A perspective of a project officer
In the pursuit of our second phase, after having pinpointed the communities to engage with, the next crucial stride involved delving into the very households from which our participants would be randomly chosen.
Under the guidance of the esteemed Dr. Joseph Baluku, our team embarked on a lengthy journey to Hoima, a journey that led us through the enchanting Bugoma Forest all the way to Kyangwali. This adventure commenced with a warm welcome from Rev. Father Rupire Isingoma at the serene Mary Immaculate Guest House, providing a much-needed respite from the fatigue wrought by the extended drive.
Our workweek commenced on a delectable note, with a sumptuous breakfast at the charming Libore Hotel, conveniently situated across from the guest house. The charismatic leader of our team orchestrated a meeting that convened minds to strategize the approach for the four chosen villages within Buhuka. This preparation involved the careful arrangement of logistics, including notebooks, rulers, tablets, and pens – all of which proved invaluable in facilitating the upcoming endeavors.
The path before us led down the escarpment, and before venturing further, we made our inaugural stop at Buhuka Health Centre III. Here, we introduced ourselves to Mr. Innocent Ahaisibwe, the Health Centre In-charge, who graciously reached out to the Village Health Teams (VHTs) tasked with guiding us through the intricate maze of households. Yet, fate had it that most of these diligent individuals were engrossed in the Yellow Fever Mass Immunization campaign upon our arrival, causing a minor wrinkle in our plans.
Gratitude washed over us when we discovered that one of our target villages, Kiina, had already been confirmed the previous day. With our guide from the VHT, we embarked on a journey through Kiina, a village characterized by its sparse population and abundant vegetation, ideal for free-ranging cattle. As we traversed the village, our eyes were captivated by the sight of robust cattle grazing amidst the verdant shrubbery.
Our journey led us to the Local Council (LC) Offices, where we were cordially welcomed by the chairperson. Here, we gleaned valuable statistics and records pertaining to the village, a trove of information that enabled us to pinpoint households housing children aged one to four – our specific focus group for this phase.
In the initial days at Kiina, we moved as a united front, acquainting ourselves with the intricate mapping tools and cultivating a sense of unity and purpose. As the week unfolded, we divided into two cohorts, each led by the astute Dr. Joseph Baluku and the capable Mr. Robert Kizindo. The sun, bearing down over Lake Albert, provided a vivid reminder of the saying, “The higher you go, the cooler it becomes,” offering a quirky twist as it seemed to get hotter the further we descended the escarpments.
Kicking off the second week was no small feat, as our energy waned, but true to the adage, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Following a hearty breakfast at the renowned Libore Hotel, we strategized our approach for Nyalebe, our second focal village. Situated at the far end of the Lake Albert shoreline, Nyalebe’s remote location was matched only by the daunting journey that led to it, complete with steep gullies that tested the mettle of even the toughest travelers.
Nyalebe presented a striking contrast to Kiina, seemingly devoid of bustling activity or economic pursuits. The calmness of this community, surviving without the usual hustle and bustle, left us in a state of awe. Unlike Kiina, Nyalebe lacked up-to-date village registers, necessitating a door-to-door exploration to identify children within our desired age range. With the guidance of two diligent VHTs, we navigated this intricate task, albeit with added complexity compared to our earlier venture.
As the week culminated, our team carved out a moment to capture the breathtaking scenery of Lake Albert from the vantage point of the Buhuka escarpment.
Regrettably, my expedition concluded at this juncture, my journey back to Kampala aboard the renowned Link Bus calling for my departure. Alas, my experience with the Link Bus was less than favorable, as the drivers’ audacious driving tendencies left much to be desired!
In light of our observations, U-SMRC is poised to fulfill the target population sample size for our comparative research study.
Written by : Raymond Muganyizi