Thursday, August 13, 2009

A review of 10 days with TAMTAM in Gulu

children caring for children: a legacy of the LRA in Gulu?

The evidence of two decades of LRA terror both stares you in the face and bubbles under the surface in Gulu. (The Lord's Resistance Army is a group that murdered many in Northern Uganda and abducted children to make child soldiers and sex slaves, now working in Sudan)

IDP camp in Gulu town

Many have horrific stories full of fear from personal experiences during the LRA terrors. IDP (internally displaced peoples) camps are seen everywhere tightly packed for group safety, in Gulu town and on the roads around Gulu town, schools were closed and health declined.

Today, many NGOs still operate in the area and the health networks are sufficiently developed - each village nominates a person to be its health information volunteer; this person is trained, sometimes to do immunizations, or talk about malaria, etc. TAMTAM worked closely with some wonderful Village Health Teams (VHTs) and youth leaders to disperse 1300 bednets to a very needy population, still struggling to return to a life of normalcy and independence.

A photo tour of TAMTAM's work in Gulu...

TAMTAM's bednets: the best in the biz! Nets are coated with insecticide that lasts 3 years, and net holes are small to prevent mosquitoes from entry. Note the different colors of rope, corresponding to the different distribution interventions

VHTs receive malaria training from Doctor Samuel and learn about bednet distribution interventions TAMTAM hopes to test at KAIROS health and community development center

The distribution of nets took place in community meeting places, often under a large tree, in a school yard or in the market. The village would gather and men and women would inevitably separate themselves.

In one site, 300 people packed in an open air community space to pick up nets. It was overflowing with people!

Here, Goretti, a VHT gives one of 4 intervention messages

A woman and child take their new bednet

five women begin what may be a long walk home with their bednets. We learned as we did home installations of bednets that some villagers travel from an hour away to a bednet distribution site.

After the nets are distributed, Thomas, Albert and Charles, several village health team members divide up the home installation lists by location: some will head into the IDP camps to do up to 30 installations in 2 days, while others will see 5 homes deep in the bush over 2 days.

inside a home, two children play while a new bednet is being installed by a VHT.

So that's a quick tour of TAMTAM's work in Gulu. 1,300 bednets distributed. Not too bad for 10 days' work. Many thanks to our dedicated VHTs, youth leaders and the staff at KAIROS!

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