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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Old Mcdonald had a farm...and a clinic!

The past two days have given me quite the insight on what it would be like to live in a rural village. Visiting the farms in the rural village was a muddy but delicious experience. While touring the farms we not only learned about the different crops, we got to taste them as well! All of the work is done by hand which means farmers cannot get as much work done in a day as the farmers in the United States. After a wonderful lunch which was provided by the elders, we had a discussion with them. The elders explained that Uganda farming as a whole is not doing anything for sustainable development. They destroyed one of their biggest forests so they were able to make sugar. Farming is important to a nation, because it is how the nation feeds it's people. What ways can Uganda farming contribute to sustainable development while still feeding the people of Uganda?

The second day of the rural visit was spent presenting multiple floor plans to the elders for the health clinic we are helping to build. We split into groups where we each had a floor plan that we would explain and then were given feedback on what could still be added to the clinic. After presenting some students played soccer or sang songs with the children. Others had a meeting with the elders to discuss the different suggestions that were given. This allowed us to look at the floor plans and compare the suggestions with the plan the elders liked best. With the amount of money we have for this project, what suggestions should we consider adding first? What suggestions will best contribute to sustainable development?


  1. The hospitality of our hosts is always incredible. This is one of the strongest partnerships we have developed over the years. We are thrilled to begin working with our friends in the village to make their vision of providing the community a health clinic a reality. I want to thank the students for their efforts in collecting information from about 65 community members to help understand the needs of the community. The students are now begining to compile the information to tackle many different elements of what will be needed to build a clinic that is sustainable and provides the most benefit to the community. In talking to the community what do you think the largest challenge to a the sustainability of the health clinic.

  2. The first day of the rural visit was a lot of fun. i really enjoyed trying new fresh fruits (especially the cocoa) they grew as well as learning how productive just one farmer could be. They are very smart in their strategies and methods of farming. For example in the more swamp lands they plant products that do well in very wet environments and find the best ways to collect water in those areas as well as ways to recycle products to make the ground very fertile. It was interesting to find that they have been facing a little trouble lately with change in climate/weather but that it has not effected their products and life too badly. One of their biggest problems, that we are also facing in the U.S., is that much of the youth wants to go to school and doesn't want to farm because it is seen as a 'punishment'. Hopefully they will find ways to have some children have strong passion for farming again and keep agriculture a solid part of their community.

    The second day was a great success in my eyes. I thought the people in the village had great ideas and insights on what they want to see in the clinic (and overall everyone agreed on similar things). Since the closest clinic is currently about 8 miles away, this clinic would be in a very beneficial location with a lot of space. The most important things to them were a labor/maternity ward, malaria medicine and care, HIV/AIDS care/medication, fatal accident care (since they are so close to the busy road) as well as a children’s ward/area. They seemed very adamant about having some sleeping quarters for patients (making sure male and female areas were separate). I think the hardest thing for this clinic is getting enough funding for it to run efficiently and with good quality. I think the most important aspect is that we need to make sure that the village is getting enough education about the different medications as well as just education on how to stay healthy (nutrition, sanitation, proper disposal of garbage/biohazards, as well as HIV and other disease prevention). Overall, the entire village seemed very excited about the idea of the clinic and how much it will help out their community.

  3. I can honestly say that our two days at the rural visit were some of my favorite days that we've had on the trip thus far. The first day was a very eye opening experience as we saw similarities and differences between farming in Uganda and farming in the United States, specifically the midwest. I think it's amazing how much they know about farming and where to plant specific crops, how to intercrop, and how to maintain a successful business. They are contributing to sustainable development, because they are providing food, creating successful businesses, and even creating a few jobs for extra help. It was also interesting to hear that they have a similar conflict that farmers in the United States have that people are looking to get an education and never really want to return to take over the family farm. I was also surprised to hear that they are not doing anything to make sure the farming industry is sustainable and will continue to be profitable in years to come.

    The second day was exciting, because I knew we were getting the opportunity to be a part of something that is going to be there for years to come and that is going to make a substantial difference in the lives of the community members we met with and many more. I think the most crucial components of the clinic include a place for a maternity ward/prenatal care, since so many women die during childbirth in Uganda, HIV/AIDS care, since we saw how prevalent and crucial that was while at TASO, and an overnight/general clinic facility. While many of the community members were asking for much more I think this would be a good starting point that then we could spring board off of. These would also help contribute to creating a more sustainable environment and hopefully allow them to live longer and make more of an impact.

    The rural village visit was very meaningful and I think a great eye opening experience all around. I can't wait to see the project get put into action and hopefully see the village grow and succeed!

  4. I loved the first day of our rural visit! It might be because of all the fresh fruit (cocoa & jackfruit) the farmers let us try which was delicious! I found it interesting that each farm didn't focus on one specific crop. Each farmer was able to grow multiple types of fruits. I also found it interesting that they were able to intercrop where I would see them growing banana in a field of cocoa. I still can't believe everything is done by hand by these men and with very few people helping. The tours were very eye opening and I'm grateful for the elders hospitality.

    As for the health clinic, I think the most important part would be either a labor/ maternity ward or fatal accident care. I'm not sure what the pregnant woman have been doing in the past (whether it's getting care at home or traveling to the clinic by taxi or walking), but I'm sure it isn't good for them or their child they are carrying. Also, with the road nearby being so busy and all the hard work and labor the community puts into their village, I think the fatal accident care in the health clinic would be beneficial. I also agree with Emily. The whole community needs to get educated on health issues to make sure they stay healthy or on prevention of diseases. I think once the people at the health clinic are trained and it gets running and the community becomes educated, the health clinic will become a great success. I'm only worried that there could be setbacks and I don't want to disappoint the village.

  5. I was very impressed by the work of the rural farmers when the farming process was being explained to us. I personally have very little experience with farming, so I am sure that there are many comparisons to American farming that I did not take note of. One thing that really surprised me was that all of the farming is done by hand. I wasn't expecting the rural farms in Uganda to have large-scale mechanization; the factor that made it surprising for me was the amount of land that they were using this method to farm. I understand that the farms here are generally much smaller than the ones in the United States, but it still seemed incredibly impressive to me that so much work could be accomplished by a single person working only with their hands and a few handheld tools. Another thing that impressed me was the many ways that the farmers found to recycle resources to help their farms prosper, such as composting dead leaves to keep the soil fertile for new crops. And yet another surprising thing I learned on the visit is that farmers in Uganda do not use any methods of irrigation. I think it's incredible that the climate here involves frequent enough rainfall for irrigation not to be necessary.

    One thing that I found really interesting about discussing the plans for the clinic with the elders was the contradictions that people received in their feedback for the different plans. For example, everyone we spoke to was in agreement that the clinic should offer HIV/AIDS treatment, but we received conflicting feedback on how this should be arranged. My group was discussing plans which had special, separate wards only for maternity and emergency patients. Some of the elders commented that we ought to have a separate ward or area for HIV/AIDS treatment as well. Contrastingly, another group had plans that did include a separate area for HIV/AIDS patients, and they received the suggestion that integrating those patients with everyone else would be preferred. It will be an interesting challenge not only to balance our desires with those of the villagers, but also to balance the differing desires among the villagers themselves. I think that the hardest challenge for this clinic will be growing so that it can become self-sustaining. Initially, we will be collecting and providing most of the funding, and I think that the hardest part of this project will be the point at which we have to Stop providing funding, and building the clinic up so it can stand on its own when that point in time comes.

  6. The first day of the rural visit was really interesting! It was really muddy! I missed one of the jumps and stepped right into the mud, it is safe to say my tennis shoes are destroyed! The farmers grow similar crops as we do in America, expect they have much more fruit. We got to try the fruit on the second farm we visited. I really liked the jack-fruit and guavas! It was interesting watching them climb the trees to get us the fruit. Also to wash our hands they pulled some of the bark off of a banana tree. If you cut it up and squeeze it in your hands it releases a lot of water-I never knew this. After touring the farms we went to eat at one of the elders' house. The discussion we had with them was very interesting. It is clear that they are worried about the future of Uganda farms!

    The second day in at the rural village was also interesting. It was our jobs to present floor plans to the people of the village. A lot of their desires were for a hospital not a clinic. I didn't say anything at the time, but it saddens me that we can't give them that right a way. One guy told my group that the closest hospital was eight miles away and only half of the ill survive the walk there. I hope in the near future we can provide them with the equipment they need to have a healthy community.

  7. being a suburban girl i had no clue what to expect from the rural visits. i have never been to a farm and met the workers who had actually grown the foods themselves. It amazed me how much of the work was done by hand. One of the older farmers was talking to us about guava. he wanted us to taste it. So he climbed up the tree to grab a couple down for us. I later found out this man was in his 70s! I don't think my grandparents could do that/ not get hurt trying! The dedication these farmers have to the crops was great to see. One aspect i found interesting was trying the cocoa plants. The sweet sugar was delicious! When we went to the village kids they kept asking me for chocolate. I was surprised by this because they have the cocoa yet many of the children hardly/ don't have chocolate.... I think this plays a role on how the farms aren't always sustainable. They are suppose to feed the ugandans yet many of the crops are exported.

    I agree with many of the comments above about the clinic. I hope we are able to make it a relality and live up to the villages needs and expectations.