It’s 9:00am on Monday morning. I start down the red dirt path to the S.O.U.L. office, eyes to the ground in effort to keep my shoes reasonably dust-free. The twinkling of women’s laughter drifts through the banana trees to my ears. “What day is it?” I think to myself. As the answer hits me, I abandon my careful trek and tear off wildly towards the sound. I turn right at the sweet potato garden, scurry down the trail between the maize fields, and with a flourishing swipe of the matooke fronds in my path, I land among the most beautiful sight: 60 Ugandan women, bedecked in their brightest kitenge, patiently awaiting for the opening of the S.O.U.L. Antenatal Education Center.
“S…E…X…” I read the letters aloud as I scrawl them across the poster paper taped to the wall behind me, and the room erupts with a cacophony of laughter.
There are few tools more powerful in development work than the art of listening. However, moving one step further and channeling this tool through rigorous research offers us the unique opportunity to see inside high complex sets of issues. Through our research, we are able to capture reality in a way that no amount of informal observation allows us to do.
When we arrived in Bujagali as S.O.U.L.’s new Global Health Corps (GHC) Fellows, we were welcomed with open arms and open hearts for the important work we were about to embark upon. S.O.U.L.’s vision for a new partnership with GHC was to engage the village in in-depth discussions about the maternal health needs of the community in an effort to inform future programming through S.O.U.L.’s Maternal Health Network. We arrived with the humility to recognize that we lacked the knowledge required to properly inform such a program.
Today was a remarkable day. A day I could have never planned. A few hours of sheer joy and excitement. A few minutes of heart racing anxiety. A few seconds of uncertainty. An afternoon with an incredible outcome.