Week 5: The Halfway Mark!… but I’m just getting started

We are officially halfway through the program and our time in Uganda, which is bittersweet. It feels like we are just getting started in some ways but time is passing quickly. This week I dived into the pesticide project which was only possible through the help of the DHO and Spotlight on Africa, who had organized Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with farmers to gather more information about pesticide use. After many email threads with the Environmental Health Department at SDSU, we formed a list of questions for the FGDs. I was then ready to go over them with local experts to seek their help in translating them appropriately for the local context. Liz was so helpful during the process of finalizing the questions with the local health experts. Their perspective and feedback was so valuable and reaffirmed again how important and necessary engagement of local partners is. 

 

There were different levels of excitement and anticipation leading up to the FGDs. I organized and edited the questions up until the morning of the FGDs. Then, even when we got to Spotlight’s office, I went over them one final time with the local experts. In preparation for the FGDs, Liz, Mary, and I picked up snacks and soaps for the participants. The FGDs ended up being huge. It was encouraging to see that people were eager to talk with us and share their experiences. At the same time, it was difficult to engage all participants and make sure everyone’s voices were heard. One of the many positive outcomes was coming to an agreement with collaborators that future FGDs should be organized to no more than 10 people per group. During this time, I was also able to interview a key informant, a retired agricultural officer, who provided vital information for the study. 

 

Coming up will be more FGDs and interviews with key informants. We will also learn more about the other projects, such as Mary’s project on HIV among pregnant mothers. 

 

Until next time,

Laila

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