This is Day 4 of a trip to Uganda with the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign. World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, was part of the delegation to observe UNICEF’s Family Health Days in October 2012. 

Elizabeth, a volunteer health worker in Fort Portal, Uganda with World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden on a Shot@Life trip October 2012.

Elizabeth, a volunteer health worker and Ugandan mother who helps to administer life-saving vaccines to children under 5 years old in Fort Portal with World Moms Blog Founder, Jennifer Burden, on a Shot@Life trip  to Uganda in October 2012.

At Church in Uganda

Sunday, we rose and prepared for the Family Health Day in the town of Fort Portal, which is about a 4 hour drive from Uganda’s capital, Kampala. Our delegation split in two because there were two Family Health Days within our reach that our group wanted to cover, so some of our group headed to a Catholic Church. I was with the group that was at an Anglican church for a Family Health Day.

It was that day that I met John the Baptist, a man who wished to continue school to become a priest, but economics didn’t allow him to do so. He now worked for the town of Fort Portal and accompanied us on our trip. It turned out John the Baptist has a 6 year old daughter, and she and my own 5 year daughter are becoming pen pals over e-mail. What a fantastic cultural experience that may grow out of this trip for two of the world’s children!

UN Van Church Fort Portal

We arrived at a grassy knoll with a church on top of the hill. It was picturesque. The familiar (to me) tune of hymns were coming from the building, and on the outside, the health workers were setting up their stations under trees and outside of buildings. Signs were words scrawled on paper: “HIV Testing Here” “Immunizations for Children Under 5”, etc.

First, Cindy Levin’s curiosity led us all into the mass. We sat on what looked like hand made wooden pews and the church inside was painted sky blue and had what looked like Christmas garland hanging from side to side overhead. The energy of the people singing inside was intense! As the priest spoke in a local African dialect, I was able to follow the mass. Not from what he said, but by the sing-song of his tone. I recognized the “Our Father” and the “The Apostle’s Creed” from my days of growing up as a Catholic, although I currently choose not to practice a religion now.

UNICEF Family Health Day

Afterwards we met with health workers, including a lab technician conducting HIV testing, a nurse midwife, and various volunteers administering vaccines, taking blood pressure and testing for malnutrition in small children. The delegation spent time observing each post, but former Mexican nurse, Felisa Hilbert, took it one step further and helped take blood pressure to the smiles of many people waiting in line.

Felicia Hilbert, a former Mexican nurse, volunteers to take blood pressure during a UNICEF Family Health Day on a Shot@Life delegation to Uganda.

Felisa Hilbert, a former nurse from Mexico, volunteers to take blood pressure during a UNICEF Family Health Day on a Shot@Life trip to Uganda.

Families waited under the shade of large, beautiful trees for their family members who were utilizing the health services. I had the chance to see children receive polio vaccinations.

Interacting with the mothers who were receiving these immunization services for their children was profound for me, after spending almost a year advocating for their children to have access to them.

Baby Waits for Vaccinations

 

The people we met in Uganda were curious and open to conversation, and so were we. Having previous been an British colony, English is common in Uganda. Having this common medium, made it possible for our delegation to really experience the local culture and people of Uganda.

I asked so many questions, met so many people and took a lot of notes. The trip has been an asset for me in leading discussions on Twitter for social good for World Moms Blog, for presenting on Shot@Life, in my writing, and in lobbying US Congress on global health and vaccines, talking to friends. But perhaps, it’s greatest impact will be on my daughters due to the multitude of stories I share with them about the children I met in Uganda. My experiences as part of this delegation were so meaningful. Thank you, again, to the UN Foundation and Shot@Life for giving me this great gift that I will continue to share in my advocacy.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden, in NJ, USA. To read more about Jennifer’s trip with Shot@Life to Uganda, check out Day 1 about UNICEF offices in Kampala, Uganda, Day 2 of her trip at a UNICEF Family Health Day in Mumbende, Uganda and Day 3 about signs of poverty.

Photo credits to the author. 

Jennifer Burden

Jennifer Burden is the Founder and CEO of World Moms Network, an award winning website on global motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. World Moms Network writes from over 30 countries, has over 70 contributors and was listed by Forbes as one of the “Best 100 Websites for Women”, named a “must read” by The New York Times, and was recommended by The Times of India. She was also invited to Uganda to view UNICEF’s family health programs with Shot@Life and was previously named a “Global Influencer Fellow” and “Social Media Fellow” by the UN Foundation. Jennifer was invited to the White House twice, including as a nominated "Changemaker" for the State of the World Women Summit. She also participated in the One Campaign’s first AYA Summit on the topic of women and girl empowerment and organized and spoke on an international panel at the World Bank in Washington, DC on the importance of a universal education for all girls. Her writing has been featured by Baby Center, Huffington Post, ONE.org, the UN Foundation’s Shot@Life, and The Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists.” She is currently a candidate in Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in the Executive Masters of Public Affairs program, where she hopes to further her study of global policies affecting women and girls. Jennifer can be found on Twitter @JenniferBurden.

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