global health, Uganda 2012

Cooking with Pam: a taste of Tanzania

Pamela usually doesn’t cook for us, but one lazy Saturday afternoon she taught us how to cook a Tanzanian dish (one of Lexa’s favorites). It was kind of like paella meets fried rice. It was really funny to watch Pamela chop vegetables because she cuts them in mid-air. She holds them in one hand and just says to “cut with confidence.” She’s like a human slap-chop.

I didn’t write down the exact recipe at the time, but here’s what I can remember:

Tanzanian Pilau

a LOT of vegetable oil
1 onion (diced)
1 cup carrots (diced)
1 cup green peppers (diced)
3 “cups” rice (I don’t know what this means. There was a LOT of rice.)
5-6 Irish potatoes (steak fries sized pieces cut into thirds)
fresh ginger/garlic
a few tablespoons chicken and/or meat masala
a few teaspoons paprika
4 tomatoes (skinned and chopped)
orange food coloring
eggs (optional)

Prep: Wash rice. Boil, skin, and chop tomatoes.

In a huge pot, sauté the onions, carrots, and peppers in a lot of oil. Add ginger and garlic. Stir in uncooked rice and potatoes. Stir continuously. Add salt and spices. Keep stirring and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until the tomato juices have become absorbed in the rice. Add the water and cook for around 1 hour, until rice is cooked.

Adding in eggs (scrambled in) and orange food coloring dust optional.

Serves an army.

Did I mention the oil?!

Doreen washing rice

The finished product. Fluffy and delicious.

Fresh passion fruit juice

Next time we’ll show you some local Ugandan food!

– Livy

global health, Uganda 2012

Field notes: no salary, just soap

GlobeMed and GWED-G trained 20 community health workers, who are out on the front lines as we speak!

Last Friday, we visited the group of 20 community health workers (GWED-G calls them VHTs or Village Health Teams) that GlobeMed funded. There were about 12 of them there, and many of them were HIV positive. They work for free.

Beatrice is the chairperson of the group. During our meeting with them, Franny (the GWED-G staff member in charge of GlobeMed projects & our BFF) began telling Beatrice’s story to all of us.  It was a beautiful example of the relationship between GWED-G staff members and the people involved in their programs.

To show how I experienced it at the time, I posted an excerpt from the notes I took during that conversation below.


Awer Village – meeting with VHTs in Health Center 2

  • GlobeMed funded the training and capacity building of 20 community health workers aka the Village Health Team (VHT)
  • provided them with 3 bicycles for 8 areas, still need more bicycles for transport

Beatrice: people use me as an example of someone who is living positive, when they see how close I’ve come to death

Franny (speaking to the group):

  • when people were still in the camps, they would go to her to cope, for support, to get advice how to keep living even though HIV positive
  • Beatrice told them to not hide and to be careful not to pass on the virus to others
  • Beatrice likes the job, wants to help even though she doesn’t make any money
  • In the beginning, she went to the health center on her own, took the initiative herself to help HIV positive people with testing, counseling, drug adherence, etc.
  • They saw her talking boldly
  • Beatrice was close to death because of AIDS, and I gave her the nutritional supplement that helped bring her back to life
  • Of the people that knew her at the time, for those that could see both the before and after – many of them died, so only a few left would be able to see her today – now see Beatrice as a miracle
  • I feel so happy working with Beatrice, because I feel I have helped. If she were not helped, she wouldn’t be here today. It’s because she first was helped.
  • These VHTs are on the front lines. If disease were to break out, they would be the first to die. You know, if you have doctors, they can spend time thinking about how to treat the situation. But for these health workers, there is no preliminary diagnoses, no waiting, no time. Nobody even cares about them.
  • They are so bold. So hard to go household to household vaccinating children, doing home visits…it is not easy.
  • They became their own agents of change. Beatrice just moved on her own. She felt the pain in herself and didn’t want any other person to suffer the same way.
  • Sometimes, she tells me that she’s not happy, but works every day to see faces of people she is helping

Me (writing to myself): Franny spewing passion and love. So much admiration, awe, appreciation. If I think of what it means to be a hero, I think of someone who does right for the world without asking for any recognition in return. I think of Beatrice.

Franny (translating one final comment): she is saying that they’re not even asking for a salary, but sometimes they could use soap to wash their clothes so that they can present themselves well in the field. You know, sometimes they come home so dirty.

Franny (whispers to me): sometimes I give them airtime for their phones, like 5000 shillings (~2 dollars).

– Livy

global health, photography, Uganda 2012

Living positive(ly)

Overheard in the field: “I have the courage to stand boldly before all of you because I want you to know that I will not die of AIDS.” – Zainabu, an HIV-positive woman from one of the groups we met with

Photos below: Visiting GlobeMed at UCLA’s partner in Anaka, testing school aged kids (14 and up) for HIV, immunizing babies who were born at home for TB, feeling a baby and helping with an antenatal home visit, meeting with HIV-positive women’s groups/youth groups

The red line indicates a positive test result.

Kristina and Carlos

Lamara! this is at home

global health, photography, Uganda 2012

A simple formula for change

someone’s mattress

In the past few days:

Talked to women’s rights group that acts as its own police force (they were like village superheroes), visited community dialogue session that got men and women to talk about addressing gender-based violence, had highest government official in Gulu over for dinner, got a tour of the studios at a national radio station, met the guy who interviews President Museveni all the time, went to church, ate lots of mangoes, g-nuts (peanuts), pineapple, lentils, rice, chapatti, greens, watching too many soap operas, learning the local Acholi language (Luo)…

Having some really interesting conversations with all types of people and soaking it all up. At the moment, thinking about the role of the media/freedom of information and its effect on political and social change. Also thinking about how GWED-G is creating a new generation of Ugandan women leaders to “take up political space.” And power, religion, democracy, HIV, maternal health, nutrition, the war. Too much going on in my head to write, so I added a few pics below.

I feel very at home here, even though I’ve only been here for a week.

Overheard from the field:

Wilfred, GWED-G staff man who oversees the women’s rights programs: “At GWED-G, we have a simple formula. Empowering women is the best way to bring development and fight poverty. If we give a woman 5,000 shillings, we know her family will eat today. Invest in the women in the community today, come back in a year, and you’ll see a miracle.”


Juliet, GWED-G staff person, leading a community dialogue session about gender-based violence

Helene Gayle (I met her at Barnard!), President & CEO of Care; U.S. Senator of Georgia; also saw Barbara Lee (congresswoman from Oakland)

global health, Uganda 2012

what am I doing in uganda?

For the past 3 years, I’ve devoted my time to GlobeMed at Columbia University. Our chapter of GlobeMed partners with Gulu Women’s Economic Development and Globalization (GWED-G) in Gulu, Uganda. GlobeMed and GWED-G work together to design, fund, and implement projects in these areas:

1. HIV and AIDS

2. Maternal Health

3. Reproductive Health

4. Economic Empowerment

This trip is called the GROW trip.  GROW stands for Grassroots On-site Work and is an integral part of GlobeMed’s partnership model.  GROW offers the opportunity for interns to form relationships with members of their partner organization and partner community.  Additionally, it allows the partner organization to better understand GlobeMed’s work and mission, and to share resources and information that will help the chapter raise more funds the following year.

The three primary goals of the GROW trip are:

1) To strengthen, add to, and expand programs, resources, and knowledge of the partner organization for the purpose of having a positive impact on their community

2) To engage in mutual learning in order to strengthen all aspects of the partnership

3) To ensure long-term stability through evaluation and strategic planning

For more, be sure to check out the GROW team’s blog HERE.