Sunday 22 January 2017

Adventure Into the Wild

It is hard to believe that the course that started early this month is coming to a close. Having spent a great deal of time understanding the broader concepts of the social determinants of health, it was worth taking some time off to refresh. The perfect way? Venture into the wild and meet with nature resounding with tranquility and serenity. 

Sitting on a boat along the Nile River as we wound up with the boat cruise, I was in a state of reflection. The mind at rest and experiencing the thrill, fun and relaxation that comes with such adventures. I felt like a newly born baby getting the first gasp of life after being delivered.
Some of the SocMed participants aboard the boat on the boat cruise during the trip

The entire weekend has given moments to reminisce as one of my best highlights of the course besides the enlightening aspects. A trip to Murchison Falls, Uganda‘s largest National Park started off early morning on Saturday. The silent atmosphere away from the busy town life is what greeted our ears as we entered the park. Sights of a few kobs, giraffes and buffalos were quick to come by. The afternoon was well spent viewing the 45 metre deep falls from which the National Park derives its name, Murchison Falls. How beautiful it was to view the gushing waters of the Nile fall through the cliff. I remembered the high school days during our geography classes studying about East Africa‘s national parks and many more of nature ‘s bounty. This experience lit up these memories.

Never mind the uncomfortably hot sun that rendered our drinking water packed in plastic water bottles not worthy of our drinking appetite. The sun angrily scorched and heat up the savannah grassland hard. To say it was unbearable would be an understatement. Nonetheless, the intense heat was not a deterrent to our fun.
Returning from the exciting view of the falls, a camp fire with a blend of soothing music, soft and hard drinks, delicious barbeque and friendly conversation was what awaited our presence at our residence. We cracked jokes, had hearty laughters and then  slowly by slowly, the joy of the night plummeted into sleep.

Have you never taken a safari to an African National Park yet would like to enjoy the best of your experience while there? An early morning game drive is one thing you can’t afford to miss. Up by about 6am today, we had a game drive taking stock of all the animals we might have missed out seeing the previous day. Water bucks, Buffalos, African Elephants and Jackals were indeed a common sight.
I am made to think that the fresh soothing breeze from the Nile waters comes with a therapeutic effect of relieving stress. A feeling of relaxation, revitalization and serenity was my experience there. A stop over at Pakwach Town Council later in the afternoon climaxed our trip as we bought beautiful handicrafts as souvenirs. It had not occurred to me that the Park was locally referred to as Paraa and the nearby town council as Pakwach. Thinking about the two local names which when loosely translated means places for hipottamus and leopards respectively made sense thereafter. After all, we saw a lot of hippos though unfortunately, we did not come across leopards. Maybe in my next trip, I will have an opportunity to see them.  The presence of these mammals in this place could have given birth to these names, I wondered. This was my weekend experience.

For those of you who might want to take time off and get your side of the story, Murchison Falls National Park trip courtesy of SocMed 2017 class has been a thrilling experience. Till again, be sure to get the highlights of what transpired during the course.

Thursday 19 January 2017

The Recreation Project

Funny how we started a few weeks ago and the course is fast coming to an end. Needless to say, if there is anything worth writing home about, then I believe the whole nitty gritty of what transpired needs to jotted down. This will surely go down as one of the best decisions I have ever made to participate in the course. So allow me to take you through much of the different activities we have gone through so far 

The Recreation Project
It was Thursday, 5th January, 2017 when we woke up to a bright sunny morning. The temperatures fast rising and I was left wondering what the Recreation project was all about. Uncertain as I was, I just had no option but rather follow on the bandwagon. Was it the first project we were to start working on? Going by the name, perhaps it had something to do with fun? Curiosity got the better part of me when I discovered that we trudged through a small pathway with both sides of the pathway covered by grass. Moments later, alas, there in front of us was a beaming sign of the Recreation Project clutched in between two trees. The freshness of nature greeted my soul as we entered this beautifully festooned recreational space, I will call it. I was not alone in appreciating the calmness, quietness and serenity of the environment. All friends that had arrived here for their first time could attest to this.
We later split into groups of about ten members and were tasked to do a number of fun activities. Learning in a fun way is usually one way that ingrains the content learnt into the very core of understanding. I must say there have been a couple of times I have learnt about teamwork in different settings and how it is key in working to achieving common goals in a group or an organization. However, no such learning can near this experiential learning that was so practical, fun filled and real. I am sure even 10 years after this course, the significance of teamwork in partnerships will be as vivid as never before. When I hear, I forget; when I see, I remember; when I do, I understand, it is often said. Indeed, by getting involved in the various group game activities, the values of teamwork in the greater success of our work could not be over emphasized. Through this approach, we were able to appreciate how to tap into the strengths and weaknesses of each individual in a team, the importance of effective communication, flexibility, strategic planning, oversight, respect for one another and contribution each member brings to a team regardless of their positions.

The day was well spent as it further enabled us to even get to know each other better in the spirit of togetherness through the fun activities. In my earlier blog, I did mention that SocMed works on the principle of praxis, the personal and partnership. I am now certain that the Recreation Project Learning indeed drove the message home of the relevance of partnerships in bringing about the much needed social justice and health equity. Teamwork even goes beyond what the course focusses on, into our daily lives as we interact with people in our various work environments, if there is a model of learning that has been resourceful, the experiential learning at the recreation project was one of such I would not hesitate to recommend to any group to try out and see the benefits.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

The SocMed 2017 Experience begins!

Ever heard of SocMed before? Yes for some of you and for others, this might perhaps be the first time you are hearing about this. SocMed is a non-profit organization that was established with a mission to advocate for and implement global health curricula imbued through a philosophy of praxis, the personal and partnership. These concepts will definitely become familiar to you as we get along.

It is said that people do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. This holds true to healthcare professionals inclusive of students within the medical field. Beyond the biological basis of disease; the social and economic causation of illness, an immersion course in social medicine organized by SocMed gives meaning to this assertion.

The 2017 SocMed course participants come from across the globe in particular from Uganda, Rwanda, Lebanon, Zimbabwe and the United States.  Tuesday January, 3rd was the date of arrival and the atmosphere was filled with excitement among all of us to meet as if we had known each other ages ago. Thanks to the era of technology. The chit chat and familiarization process had begun months ago on the 2017 SocMed WhatsApp group. On this day, despite meeting physically for most of us for the first time, the interaction was honestly amazing and filled with warmth. 

Olirus Alex (Left) and Dr, Emmanuel Ochola after sharing with the Social Medicine class about the background of St. Mary 's Hospital, Lacor Hospital 
The first day of our class got us being enlightened about the background of the course site St. Mary's Hospital, Lacor; social medicine determinants of health and the social theories of global health.
An illustration of one of the theories of the global health using video presentation

Are you wondering whether it was all about studying and no play? Worry not, beyond the class work came the fun time. The social moment was really awesome. Work without play makes Peter a dull boy, so goes the English adage. Indeed, the display of the unique dance strokes  to a couple of local and international music fused with the enjoyment of the delicious cake and the yummy yellow bananas were the highlights of the evening. We have been energised, oriented into the course and are expectant of a lot more learning, interaction and fun in the coming days and so should you expect the updates on this blog. The conversation continues. A great start it was!.  Tomorrow, we focus attention on narrative medicine and introduction to the clinical components of social medicine.
The Welcome Cake
The Participant Representatives from the different countries getting ready to cut the cake