Interview with Hunter Davidson

hunter

 

Hunter was someone that I became very close to, while in Kabale. I wanted to interview her for her water project because of her dedication to human rights.

Here is a link to her gofundme:

https://www.gofundme.com/rain-water-harvest-tanks

water tanks

Year Graduated/University/Major: 2018 Oregon State University Public Health Management and Policy

Grad School Plans/Dreams: I am attending Oregon State University Graduate School to earn a masters degree in applied ethics with the goal of becoming a medical ethicist

What inspired you for your project? The thing that inspired me for my project was seeing the water tanks and communities that are impacted by the lack of having water

What are your target populations? The target population is community families in certain rural communities [in Kabale]

Why do you think your project will make a difference? I think this project will make a difference because it will provide water to families, specifically enabling children to go to school and get an education because they will not have to spend their time fetching water for their families and missing school

How will this project be sustainable? This project will be sustainable because I am looking into partnering with different organizations that focus on providing water to developing countries and also because the water tanks themselves are sustainable and require very little maintenance, meaning that they last families a long time once the families have them

How has your background in bioethics influenced the way you have done projects in Uganda? My background in bioethics has made me think very consciously about the projects I do and also the way that I handle day to day interactions. I do not want to come and cause damage, and sometimes small short-term projects in developing countries do that. Being aware of this has helped me to evaluate the impact of my actions before doing them.

What drives you in your life? All I really want to do in my life is help people and use the talents and skills that I have for the better good. I think that a lot of what drives me is the common humanity that we all share with each other and I want to contribute to the better good of everyone else.

 

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Final Reflections

Although I have only been in Uganda for four weeks, I do feel like this place will have my heart forever. Through tears, sweat, and layers of dust I have forged long lasting bonds with people I would have never met without this program. Here in Kabale, I have learned about friendship, cultural competency, and medicine.

I first heard of Child Family Health International(CFHI) because of their partnership with the University of California San Diego (UCSD). A previous Khiefo student discussed the Uganda program in a blog which sparked my interest in coming to Kabale.

Throughout this program, I had the honor and privilege or working with the wonderful staff of Khiefo. The staff was so patient with the students. Daily, we bombarded them with questions about how the people lived, what their sicknesses were, and how we could treat them. During the first week, I nutrition clinic I was able to measure a child’s Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC). Measuring a child’s MUAC is important because it measures malnutrition. If a child is malnourished the wrap around color will be on the red, if they are slightly malnourished it will be yellow, and if a child is healthy the color will be green. In the United States, there is minimal worry malnutrition, in fact there is an increase rate of obesity in young children. This experienced caused me to question the nutritional information that we provide to kids in the US.

One of the most memorable experiences was visiting a traditional healer. In school, I have learned about indigenous medicine but have never met a traditional healer from Uganda. I have been to herbalists in Chinatown, but have never met traditional attendants. The traditional healer was located on lake Buyoni, the deepest lake in Africa (more than 4,000 feet). The healer was located on a steep hill, hidden from plain view. His hut was covered in soot because he liked to burn a fire in the middle. When asked about his belief in birth control, he recommended tying the umbilicus chord around a woman to prevent pregnancy. Although I believe in different types of birth control methods, it was eye-opening to find out what some may believe in.

I enjoyed going to outreaches every week. During outreaches, we would all go in a van to a local school or church to provide medical services. This includes dental, HIV testing, antenatal care, and primary healthcare. The first school we went to, was really enthusiastic to see us. I had the chance to apply fluoride on kids. It was nice to interact with the local community to really immerse ourselves in the places here. As a US citizen I am very privileged and acknowledge that my life is much different. Going to outreaches taught me that I still have a lot to learn. During outreach, we could shadow physicians to see what their diagnoses were. I learned about how the environment can influences people’s health behavior. Up in more rural areas, it was harder to get water so many people were dehydrated. They also had longer distances to travel and many of them suffered from arthritis or joint pain.

As someone who would like to go into midwifery, it was amazing to see a live birth. Throughout the experience I compared the way we in the US see birth and the way women here experience birth. During the process, the woman did not scream even once. The midwives talked calmly to the patient, telling her not to over-excerpt herself. Looking back at my women’s health classes expectant mothers talked about how they felt they lost control in their birthing process. Here in Uganda, mothers are in more control.

It saddens me to write this last blog post but I know I will be back again. Thank you to the Khiefo team and those and CFHI for making this dream a reality. Thank you to the amazing friends who supported me throughout this process.

premed students

 

 

Making Memories and Learning to Relax

While in Uganda, I was able to go on excursions and travel around the country. One of the most memorable things I did was visiting the equator. It’s a landmark that reminds me of my place in the world.

While traveling around Uganda, I was able to meet people from all different cultures. I enjoyed talking to local people about their lives, experiences, and thoughts.  Being around others reminded me to live in the moment and not worry so much about the future. I started working at a very young age and never had time to relax. In high school, I worked at a coffee shop in order to save money for college. While in community college I worked three jobs. While living in Kabale I met people who worked as many jobs as I previously did but still had time to smile and relax. They taught me that work and school are not everything but I should keep time for myself to laugh with others and enjoy my life.

 

ugada equator

 

Learning about the Environment

While shadowing doctors, I noticed a trend on certain diagnoses. There were many local women who had Urinary Tract Infections, Pelvic inflammatory Infections, and joint pain. I was following a Physician’s Assistant named Alan who explained to me why some of these people had these diseases.

In my Global health classes, I have learned that the environment can shape someone’s health determinant but I didn’t know exactly what diseases could be influenced. In the United States living in a poor area is usually associated with low-living standards. This means that the air could be polluted, people could live in food deserts (no high-quality nutrient-dense grocery stores), and unsafe drinking water. Environmental racism plays a large part in the types of areas people live in.

While in Uganda, I learned that unsanitary toilet conditions can cause some of these infections. UTI’s are caused by Escherichia Coli (E. Coli) which travels from the large intestine to the urethra. The toilets in Kabale tend to be low on the ground where bacteria can splash back and cause bacteria to enter the vagina. Water is hard to get in higher areas so there is not much water to be passed around.

Many of the elderly complained of joint pain. During the outreaches, I noticed that people had to walk very far and for hours in order to reach the clinic. This means that everyone, young or old had to trek across mountains and unpaved road in order to receive medical care. The older members of the community discussed pain in their knees, elbows, and back. Thier joints hurt because they have to walk very far to go anywhere. It’s not like the United States where people can drive their cars or catch the bus to go to a doctor’s appointment.

Watching a Live Birth

While at a government hospital, I had the honor to shadow a birth. The child’s birth reminded me of the book, “The Spirit Catches You, and You Fall Down” because of how the mother processed the birth.

While shadowing ante-natal, I was able to learn how to measure a baby’s heartbeat while using a Pinard cone. Here is a picture of one just in case you have never seen one:

 

fetal

So during the visit, a woman came in talking about how she was dilating but her water did not break. The midwives instructed her to lie down so they could measure how far the mother was dilated. She was almost fully dilated at 7 cm ( usually 10 cm is considered fully dilated)  but her water still did not break, so the midwife broke her amniotic sac in order to induce labor. The midwife placed a bucket under the woman’s legs so when the sac broke, the liquid wouldn’t spill all over the place. The midwives placed a drug in the iv fluid which was supposed to help induce labor.

The woman did not scream or yell at all. The midwives instructed the mother to lie on her side because the baby was too far angled and it would have been uncomfortable for the baby to come out of the birth canal. Every time the woman contracted she did not make a single sound. She breathed a little harder but was calm throughout the process. When discussing birth in the United States, all I remember is hearing screaming noises and mothers using an epidural. Not that there is anything wrong with using an epidural, but some of the mothers in Uganda are unable to use these resources so some of the mothers give birth without using any type of pain killers. It was quite admirable!

The woman gave birth within an hour. Her baby was a beautiful boy. The midwife massaged the abdomen to get rid of any clots and to help assist with the “second birth.” The “second birth” is the delivery of the placenta. The placenta provides nutrients and oxygen. It is delivered 5-15 minutes after the birth of the baby. The baby was then wrapped up like a little burrito and placed under a light to keep the baby warm.

I will admit it, it was a very emotional experience. I have always wanted to be a midwife and the mother allowed me to be part of this experience with her. I am so thankful that the mother shared this  beautiful moment with me.

Being an Asian American in Uganda

No one in my family has ever traveled to Africa. Most of the friends I grew up with were never able to travel to such a faraway place, so I found this trip amazing. I found Uganda such a privilege because traveling is something many people cannot afford. Being a low-income college student never in my life I thought I would be able to travel to the African continent.

As an Asian student, I was able to have a unique experience because there were not that many of us outside of the program. It was a complete culture shock for me. Growing up in San Francisco, I have always grown up with people who looked like me so being part of this reminded me of what it was like to be a minority.  This reminded me of the privileges I had from growing up in a diverse background. There were some locals here, that were not used to seeing Asian Americans and they had many questions for me.

Some of the most common questions people had were where I was from. While walking around town some folks liked to yell, “Japan,” “Korea,” or “Philippines”  while my peers and I were walking around Kabale. Some people liked to speak Mandarin to me which I thought was kind of cool. I don’t speak Mandarin but it’s nice to see that there are some locals who want to make an effort to help people who speak Mandarin feel included.

It’s important to remember when traveling to a new place to keep an open mind and to erase the stereotypes we have about each other. For example, when growing up in the United States I learned that Africa was one place. When coming here I was reminded that we all come from different places and that some people may have assumptions about me but we have to keep an open channel for dialogue.

First Week Reflection in Uganda

As someone who was born and raised in the United States, I learned about Africa in the most biased way. During one of our first lessons, Dr. Geoffrey Anguyo discussed how students would ask him , “Where are the lions?” “Do you have running water” Where is the jungle. I too, was one of these ignorant people. All I remember reading about Africa is Joesph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in school and the wars between different groups of people.  Never did I imagine that I would be able to have the opportunity to come to Uganda. Once here, I realized that all my stereotypes and preconceived notions were untrue. Here people seem happier than the folks back home in the United States. Mother’s brought their children to work with them.

There is this idea that everyone in a “developing” country is desperate and in poverty but coming here has taught me that this is untrue. There is a diverse socio-economic spectrum. There are people here who are educated, business owners, and entrepreneurs. I learned that I still have a lot to grasp while living in this amazing place.

The Khiefo living space is quite nice. I am living in a quad room with two students from the United States and one student from the United Kingdom. There are eight of us in the suite. I had no idea that we would be allowed to have hot water so that was a nice surprise.  There again, I had a pre-conceived notion about a place I have never been too.

This week I’m learning to have an open mind and to let go of any ideas I have about people. 38728023_233034464016195_5084052848128294912_n Here pictured is Hunter Davidson and I in front of the staircase of the Khiefo Apartments.