Monday, March 25, 2013

“30 Sites and 30 Nights”—March 25, 2013 (Day 6)


Name: Ashley Givan

Home State: Kentucky

What she did before Peace Corps: Finished grad school and worked at a book store

Program Sector: Community Health

Number of months spent in Uganda: 9

Host Organization: Stop Malaria Uganda

Site location: Soroti Town, Soroti District

Language spoken at her site: Ateso

Ashley is a Peace Corps Response volunteer working with Stop Malaria Uganda. Peace Corps Response is a part of Peace Corps where they offer shorter volunteering positions (from 3 months to 1 year) to RPCVs (Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) and now even people who have many years experience in a particular area. Ashley previously served in Peace Corps in China from 2007 to 2009.


The Stop Malaria Project (SMP) is a 5-year project of the Uganda Ministry of Health that commenced on September 26, 2008, with financial support from the U.S. President's Malaria Initiative (PMI). SMP is designed to assist the government of Uganda to reduce malaria morbidity and mortality. This will be achieved by reaching 85% coverage of children under 5 years old and pregnant women with proven preventive and therapeutic methods.


Ashley works with Stop Malaria in a support position. She worked with a net distribution and she trained some government leaders and sensitized them to net usage. She promotes the Stomp Out Malaria initiative and she is encouraging other volunteers to get involved in the initiative. She has also attended some workshops for Stop Malaria. And she is in the middle of organizing a World Malaria Day event in Soroti.

Ashley's favorite thing about her site is the people (her co-workers, other PCVs in town and Soroti in general). Her favorite moment was actually getting involved in saying goodbye to another volunteer. “I really felt like I was part of the group.” They went out to one of the villages and they had an interesting experience in transport back to Soroti. It is hard for response volunteers to really get involved with other volunteers and feel like they belong because they don't have a group of people that they came in with and trained with. So Ashley really appreciated the small things like when other volunteers included her in their group. Her biggest challenge at site is the lack of structure and that she has no clear role to take in her office. There is also a lot of downtime between field activities and sometimes it can be too long. She has also had a lot of frustration in getting any secondary projects off the ground. “It would have been easier if I was here for two years, but in one year it is hard to get a project off the ground.”   


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This morning after we got up, got ready, and had a cup of tea, we made our way across town to go visit Ashley at her office at Stop Malaria. So when we got there we met up with her, she showed us around and we got to meet everyone in the office.

What the different groups bring in from their hives to be processed by SOCADIDO
Once we were finished visiting Ashley, we went to Joanna's office at SOCADIDO. When we first arrived we had tea with some of the other staff members. Their tea time reminded me so much of my place in Kinoni. I was able to have some really good milk tea with accompaniment (aka a snack) of chapati and hard boiled eggs. After tea, Joanna showed me around and introduced me to everyone. She even showed me their warehouse for making honey. One of her biggest projects is working with different groups in the surrounding sub counties to make bee hives and produce honey.


We stayed at Joanna's office until after lunch and then we went back to her house to relax and hang out. In the evening a few volunteers and ex-pats came over and had dinner with us.

Tomorrow I have to leave Soroti to move on to Lira. I guess I'm glad the project is progressing, but I am sad to leave this place. Joanna has been very hospitable and welcoming and Soroti, despite it being so hot, is a nice little town.



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