By Amanda Blazek

This past summer Neha, Rafa, and I comprised our GROW team. Every summer, the GROW team travels to the site of GlobeMed’s partner organization – the Adonai Child Development Centre in Namugoga, Uganda – to assess the status of previous fundraising initiatives, get to know the staff members at Adonai and the surrounding community, and carry out a research project. As three girls that went on the trip, we were interested in conducting a research project that related to assessing the wellbeing of girls. In Namugoga, as in much of Uganda and Sub Saharan Africa, there exists a large gender discrepancy in the education system, as boys attend and complete school at much higher rates than girls. We wanted to carry out a research project to examine the obstacles that girls face in the community to attending and completing school; our goal is to present our findings to the Adonai Centre, and implement necessary projects or initiatives into our future partnership plans with Adonai.

Due to our research exploring the nature of girl’s education, we spoke to over 20 girls about their experience growing up in the community, diving into topics ranging from school systems to families to community expectations. These significant conversations allowed us to connect with these young women and form personal relationships with community members from the start. Their insightful responses not only aided us in our research, but allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of the culture in which we worked and learned. One young woman in particular stands out – a 15 years old who dropped out of school due to having a baby at the age of 13. She spoke to us of her responsibilities as a mother, of the circumstances that led her to become pregnant, and her inability to return to school after the birth of her child. This young mother embodied many of the issues we were looking to address in our research, and being able to hear of her situation firsthand was moving and meaningful for all of us.

A young mother and her child in their Namugoga home.

It is one thing to hear about Adonai during our meetings; it is a very different thing to visit the center firsthand. Meeting the staff members, children and community members made us so proud of our partnership, and showed us how special Adonai truly is. Aloysious Luswata, the director of Adonai, and his wife Abby were essential in aiding us throughout the trip, especially with our research. Abby helped to set up many of the interviews – as she knows the girls in the community – and came along to translate for us when need be. Their help allowed us to immerse ourselves as much as possible, and connect with people we otherwise would not have been able to.

Aloysious, Abby, Nobel, and Janet Luswata pose with the 2014 GROW team.

I don’t think any of us expected the experience to be as memorable as it was. Through our research and time spent with community members, we all got a sense that GlobeMed’s partnership really is making a tangible impact in the community.