Two Great Weekends and a Busy Week In Between

20 07 2011

by Katherine Donato

July 20, 2011

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks, so I’m only now, sitting in the van on the hour-long trip out to Kashongi, finding some time to write my next post!  Two weekends ago I traveled with my entire group back to Kampala, Uganda’s capital, to meet with Duke’s president, Richard Brodhead, who was in the midst of a several-week world tour.  That Saturday, we all got up early for the four hour trip so that we’d have the afternoon to wander around Kampala before meeting with President Brodhead for dinner.  We visited a couple large supermarkets and a large craft market, both of which had more mzungus (foreigners) than I think we had seen all together in the previous couple weeks!  Dinner at the Serena hotel in Kampala was fantastic—genuinely excellent food and great company.  Besides President Brodhead and his wife, we met several other people from the Duke Global Health Institute as well as other students working in Uganda this summer.

Last weekend the group went out to Lake Mburu, a national park fairly close to Mbarara where we’re living.  This was also a great trip, and we got to walk through vast areas of land that had zebras, buffalos, warthogs, and lots of things that look pretty close to deer (to me)!  I thoroughly enjoyed hiking around, especially because we all had to stay quiet so as not to scare the animals off.  It was a great few hours just walking around and watching all the animals, many times with the animals’ hoof beats as the only audible sound.  Later in the evening we went out on a boat ride on Lake Mburu where we saw a lot of hippos, a couple crocodiles, and some birds.  All around it was a great day.

In the intervening week days, I’ve been working nonstop with my translator to get ready to start interviewing pregnant women out in the villages.  After many long days of working on the computer, talking through the exact meaning of every question, and working out glitches in the survey software, we are ready to start today!  We’ll be piloting this survey for a few weeks, and hopefully along the way learn some valuable information about the women we’ll be serving in our large-scale intervention beginning in September.

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