Tag Archives: family planning

Volunteering at CTPH has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences

I began working with CTPH in September 2011, as a marketing and development volunteer through the American Jewish World Service Volunteer Corps program. Before moving to Uganda I worked in international development in the US for about 2 years before finally making it to the African continent, and being here has by far surpassed my expectations. Volunteering at CTPH has been one of the most rewarding and exciting experiences I’ve ever had, and has made me more likely than ever to want to continue working on international issues.

1Gorilla research clinic new site

The work I’ve done for CTPH has been both interesting and dynamic. I was fortunate enough to come at a time when CTPH was considering its long-term strategic goals, and was able to support staff in their process of deciding where the organization wants to be in a year, three years, five years, and so on. Since then I’ve run a grant-writing workshop for CTPH staff, worked to improve our online presence by creating a Flickr and Twitter account, drafted brochures and newsletters, assisted in writing grants, worked on content for our new website (which we will be launching soon!), and helped out with the annual report and other donor-documents. I’ve been able to sit in on a number of meetings with partner organizations and stakeholders, as well as contribute some ideas on how to improve operations and grow CTPH’s model. I feel so fortunate to have been able to participate in such a meaningful way.

One of the most unusual and exciting aspects of CTPH is its ability to integrate numerous programs and approaches across sectors: whether working to achieve biodiversity conservation in some of Africa’s most beautiful protected areas through improving public health for some of the poorest people on the content; improving people’s livelihoods to decrease their dependency on tourism; or working to blend nonprofit-type philanthropy with innovative business practices, CTPH does a little bit of almost everything without diffusing its overall goals.

Daniela and Sam, a community conservation health volunteer at the village aquaponics projec

The village aquaponics project

Part of what drew me to accept a placement at CTPH was its unique mission: control the spread of diseases between humans, wildlife and livestock, thus conserving natural resources and biodiversity while simultaneously improving health for very poor, rural communities. In November I was fortunate enough to visit both Queen Elizabeth National Park and Bwindi Impenetrable National Forest, two of the areas where we work, to observe a family-planning training for our network of community health volunteers. Although I was already impressed by CTPH’s integrated health and conservation model, seeing their program in action gave me whole new insights into the success of their programs. I got to observe two days of training for community conservation health volunteers in Buhoma District near Bwindi, and it was both impressive and moving to see this large network of people working together to improve conditions for their communities.

On my trip, I also got to visit our gorilla health research clinic, the village Aquaponics project and the site for our new Gorilla Conservation Camp and Gorilla Health Center.

Working with the dedicated CTPH staff has also been an amazing experience. Dr. Gladys Kalema-Zikusoka is an inspiring mentor and leader, and it’s clear she has been head of the pack when it comes to combining conservation and development. I’m also continually impressed by the high quality of work that my colleagues and co-worker produce and have gained an enormous amount of knowledge from them both about the institutional structures in Uganda and about the sectors of conservation and public health specifically.

Community Conservation Health volunteer training on family planning in Kisoro districtKisoro volunteers receiving training on family planning

Beyond the enormous professional and intellectual opportunities accorded me in my time at CTPH, I feel a profound gratitude at having had a chance to live in this beautiful country and interact with its amazing people. I will miss Uganda and CTPH and hope that they are able to continue their impressive work for years to come!

A student’s conservation efforts in Uganda

Melinda Hershey, a fourth-year health education undergraduate student, is spending her final quarter at UC interninguganda2 in Uganda with an organization called Conservation Through Public Health. During her ten weeks in Uganda, Melinda will conduct sanitation and family planning surveys throughout the Bwindi area, and develop materials to complement these efforts.

She is primarily working with the Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH) group located at a camp in Bwindi, meeting members of the community and working with them on issues that affect public health and population, like sanitation and family planning.

CPTH began as a conservation effort aimed to protect the world’s largest population of mountain gorillas in the Ugandan region. When it became clear that this area, also one of the most impoverished nations in the world, was experiencing the transmission of deadly diseases between animals and humans, the focus turned to improving public health and hygiene. They soon saw the benefits not only to the region’s population, but also to protect a sustainable source of income from gorilla tourism.

Melinda has already reported back to her UC professors this summer with a wealth of interesting experiences. “I traveled to Queen Elizabeth National Park to participate in a fact-finding mission about an Anthrax outbreak among hippos. This is a huge problem because there are not enough resources to dispose of the hippos, therefore causing a threat to the local human population as well.”

Melinda’s fieldwork began in July in the Mukono district, visiting the homes of community members. “I checked several elements of hygiene within their homes (latrines, showers, water storage) and also spoke to them about family planning. They speak a local language (Rukiga) so I had a translator with me to interpret,” says Melinda. She has also visited two schools to speak with them about hygiene and family planning issues. “This community has an overwhelming need for better hygiene and sanitation education and resources, and they still have a lot to learn about appropriate methods of family planning. Hopefully we will be able to gather some good data to make a case for funding more endeavors.”

Melinda also noted that she had the opportunity to meet a local medicine man and see his office. She also witnessed the making of banana gin, called Waragi, being made while she was out and about in the community.

Aside from learning about Uganda’s health, Melinda hopes to absorb as much of the unique culture as possible. You can learn more about the mission of Conservation Through Public Health at www.ctph.org.