By Amanda Blazek
The GROW team is in the midst of preparing for our trip to Uganda this summer – which feels so far away now, yet will surely sneak up on us. From working on grant applications, to looking for plane tickets, to deciding on a program, we are getting excited and want everyone to be involved in the process with us!
A few months ago now, the GROW team – consisting of Neha, Rafa, Olivia, and myself – Skyped our GlobeMed coordinator in Uganda, Aloysious. Although we approached the Skype session with a few ideas in mind, we mainly asked Aloysious what he felt needed to be worked on in Uganda and in the Adonai Center, and how we could be of help. One of the first things he said was that many school-age girls stop going to school when they get their period every month. Now, we know this is a sensitive subject. But if you think it is sensitive in the US, you can’t imagine the stigma attached to a girl’s period in Uganda. I could inundate you with the many statistics and percentages we have found, but trust me when I say discussing menstruation as freely as I am here would never happen in Uganda. Many girls don’t go to school when they receive their period each month, either because they are embarrassed or because they don’t have proper ways to manage it. It has become a large issue in the community recently, both because girls are falling behind in school and because of increased hygiene concerns.
Therefore, we plan on implementing a two-part program. Firstly, we will conduct a survey of girls and schoolteachers about the general feelings surrounding menstruation, and common menstrual management methods. This will allow us to understand the depth of the issue, and aid us in deciding how to best address it. These surveys will probably be conducted in small focus groups.
Secondly, we will attempt to better the hygiene issues and stigmas surrounding menstruation there. To address the stigma, we hope talking about menstruation in small groups will help the women become more open about the subject. For the hygiene problem, we plan on partnering with an NGO in Kampala that can help us either make or distribute sanitary pads to women in the community. This would be a great improvement for these women, and hopefully make them more comfortable as well.
So…that’s the plan. It’s still in the works, and we are working out the kinks as we write grant proposals describing our plan and our goals. The process will continue into spring quarter as well, as we are all enrolled in a Global Health research methods class.
I hope that this has been beneficial in helping everyone really understand our plan of attack in Uganda this summer, and how we hope to help. Again, the GROW team wants everyone to be involved in what we are doing. So ask us any questions you have, and give us your insight!
Lots of GlobeMed/GROW love,