by Rebecca Bell, Assitant project coordinator
Shanti is incredibly fortunate to have some wonderful people both interning and working for us here in Luwero. Yesterday, a few of us were lucky enough to see these colleagues being recognized for their hard work through another organization, Save the Mothers.
Save the Mothers has its Canadian headquarters in Hamilton, Ontario where current Monitoring & Evaluations intern, Dena Thomas lives with her husband and three grown kids. Dena is on the board of Save the Mothers, and so brings an incredible understanding of organizational governance, an academic background in public health, and vast maternal health experience with her to Shanti. We are lucky to have her!
Victoria Acen, Shanti’s competent and motivated Project Director has her academic background amongst the Save the Mother’s Masters of Public Health Leadership Program. As a current student at the Ugandan Christian University, she works within the Save the Mothers family whose program is centered upon educating up and coming Ugandan leaders in the health profession in maternal health care.
Yesterday, Save the Mothers held a 10-year anniversary party in Kampala to celebrate what has been accomplished in this time. Myself, Trine, Dena, Ssanyu and Fred all trekked to the function in our high heels and snazzy outfits to support the incredible work others are doing surrounding mother centered care and safe births. The day began with a number of current students presenting a short dissertation of their research (their abstracts) in front of a panel of professors and a number of their colleagues. We were exposed to how individuals are working with the Village Health Teams (VHTs) throughout Uganda, a component of Shanti’s outreach that the current cohort of interns has been keen to improve. Similar themes were present throughout a number of presentations including the need to get women to go to clinics sooner, varying contraception options, the challenge of bringing in male (partner) involvement and the lack of financial resources to do all of this.
Victoria represented Shanti with her own presentation of our project and our goals, and how things have been going in Luwero. She was later able to make a plug about our work in maternal health care, as well as a quick comment about the HIV positive women’s income generating group (WIGG), whose textiles and beading work we had on display in the large banquet hall.
Both Victoria and Dena were asked to go up on stage to present certificates of achievement to Save the Mothers faculty who were being recognized for their contributions over the past 10 years. It was wonderful to see some of our own recognizing the achievements of others in the field. Not only that, but it meant that Victoria and Dena themselves had been selected as important players in their own right within the Save the Mothers community.
Finally, we were able to celebrate with the whole group, getting into the largest group photo I’ve ever had the chance to participate in. The dinner buffet was no small highlight either! As we left that evening, happy and well-fed, Ssanyu, Victoria and Fred picked up professionally printed portraits of themselves that the photographer had taken throughout the night. What a perfect souvenir for an inspiring evening!