Friday, July 16, 2010

Eight weeks down

So this week has been super hectic, but pretty unexciting. Actually, a bit stressful. We'll reach the 2 month mark next Tuesday...just over 4 weeks left until we're back home. I'm excited because I miss everyone at home and I'm getting stressed out at work, which makes me just want to leave. But I think I'm going to be pretty sad to go. It's such a peaceful and laid back existence here (minus the bombings in Kampala, which is horribly tragic and unexpected). Nonetheless, I think I'll be ready to go home. Nrups and I have been discussing traveling the past week. Both of us want some time to get out of Mbale and explore a little more. I was pushing for Zanzibar, but it's super expensive, and it will be Ramadan so we're a bit unsure of the food situation. Now we're thinking about a few days in Rwanda and chimp tracking in western Ugandan. We'll see what happens. Right now it looks like we might have to spend another day or two in Mbale than we had planned to finish up some work, but that shouldn't interfere with travel plans too much.
As for work, it's going well. Of course when it rains it pours. Things are picking up with our male involvement project at the same time that Nrupa and I are just starting to figure out our own projects. I started collecting data on pediatric malnutrition this week. I'm doing it every Tuesday and Thursday for the last month that we're at TASO. It's not difficult, per say, but it's much messier and more chaotic than I had anticipated. Obviously language poses a huge barrier. I wanted to ask clients about their daily diets, but I threw those questions out because it was impossible to pin any staff down long enough to help me translate. I was hoping that there would be someone assigned to help me, but I pretty much just have to beg. I've been attaching myself to this one girl, which was helpful today. It's still unorganized, but I got much better data today than I did on Tuesday. Now the biggest challenge is locating the client files at the end of the day to find their most recent CD4 counts and ART status. I think I'm just going to have to collect a list of all the names and registration numbers and look at the files a few days after I measured the patients. Then of course there's the problem about incomplete information in client files, but that's another story.

On top of all of these, yesterday we found out about this approval process that we're supposed to go through. I had asked Nova, the nutrition coordinator, about any IRB or anything, and he told me that it was unnecessary since the data and subsequent report are only being used by TASO. I have no intention of publishing. Now, however, we found out that there is, in fact, this whole process of writing a proposal and submitting it to the TASO Internal Review Committee to have it approved. Naturally, the IRC meets once a month and they won't be meeting again until the first week of August....our last week at TASO. Oh well, we're making due. In the meantime, both Nrupa and I have been thinking about other projects we could do once we get home. I've even emailed with one of my professors and have a meeting arranged for the day after I return to DC to meet with her and discuss other ideas. I may not end up graduating until Spring 2011, but that's okay. It will give me more time to focus solely on my CE.

On the social front, Nrupa finally succeeded in securing us a dinner invite to her uncle's house, and by uncle I mean one of the 500 Indians that live in Mbale. She went to this religious discussion thing at the Hindu temple Wednesday night and one of the families invited us over for dinner on Sunday. So excited! They also said we should stop by for lunch because the auntie just sits at home alone all day. I've stopped eating the beans and rice at work (I get nauseous just thinking about it, it's so bad!), so I'm all for going to the auntie's for lunch. Also, our friend Martin from TASO got a new job, so that's both sad and exciting. He's been working at TASO for the past year as a volunteer (he gets a small stipend), so it's super great for him that he got a job. But he'll be moving to Tororo, which is about an hour southeast of Mbale. He starts the new job the first week of August, so I guess we'll only technically have one week at TASO without him, but it's still weird. He's probably our closest friend there. We're taking him out to dinner tonight night to celebrate.

Otherwise, nothing too exciting is going on. We're going to the mountains this weekend to spend a night with Dave and Jessie, our PhD friends. They leave Uganda August 4 (they've been here almost a year), so this is one of our last hurrahs with them. Should be fun. I'm excited to see life in a small village. Hopefully I'll have some stories to report on Monday...

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