My name is Elizabeth Khatiala. I was born and brought up in Kenya. I studied Foods, Nutrition and Dietetics at Undergraduate level. As a Global Link Afrika and NOREC participant 2018/2019 in Afya Bora Exchange Program in Uganda, I was placed at Yivu Abea Health Centre III, Maracha District, Northern Uganda.Our main goal was to offer Primary Health Care services to the community.
While there, I was exposed to several global issues besides a different culture. I realized that it is actually possible to live in a different culture! You just need to appreciate and respect it, not criticize it. It may be different from mine, but not necessarily right or wrong!I learnt to ask questions in seeking to understand the new culture, but also adapt to it.
The needs for primary health care services, especially in the marginalized communitiesare huge. Among the many factors affecting health, I learnt that culture plays a very big role here. This challenged my thinking in light of knowledge acquisition; one shouldn’t just acquire knowledge develop the mind, but aim at sharing it with the community ,to help in perspectives and behavior change. Language barrier was a major hurdle in settling in. That meant me learning a new language. This was not easy, but I learnt to persevere through it.
As a nutritionist,I not only stuck to my career path, but learnt to beflexible, open minded and willing to learn new skillsand acquire new knowledge so as to be equipped to meet the needs of the community. I was also challenged to embrace teamwork amidst team dynamics to help achieve a common goal.
According to the health facility’s records, we realized that the community was not fully utilizing the available resources of the health center. We then resolved community awareness, health education and outreaches to sensitize the community on this. I am happy that this bore fruits. The attendance gradually increased with time. I also made new friends in Uganda!
While there, I participated in the following;
- Nutrition assessment and counseling/Education
- Nutrition supplementation (IFAS)
- Malaria Outreaches in U5s and pregnant women
- Health Education
- Attending Trainings for capacity building
A very big thank you to NOREC for bringing change to the community through exchange if ideas and knowledge. Thank you for the exposure.