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Vivian Ho and Namusiisi community group members gather to plan a health fair including music, drama, bicycle racing, and STI testing

Vivian Ho, '17

Lessons from Uganda

The drums reverberate in the red dust. The women in the community groups sing to the beat of the drums with a rumble in their voices—a rumble that declares a sense of community, a rumble that states they are effecting change for the issues that matter to them. They are performing dramas about pregnancy, nutrition, and hygiene. The crowd, with over 500 people, is listening.

With the support of a Halper Fellowship through the Haas Center for Public Service, I worked with Safe Mothers, Safe Babies (SAFE), a nonprofit organization aimed at reducing maternal mortality rates in eastern Uganda.

My time in Uganda challenged my norms and made me evaluate new ones. It forced me to recognize how activism and seeking justice can be loving to the populations who desire to be heard, especially women. It gave me personal stories and examples of frameworks to life that are different from my own, and yet somehow they are not so different. It has given me an itch to recognize the status quo and not be settled in it.

When I left the United States, I expected simply to do a public health internship in Uganda. By the end of my time there, I realized I had found a family.

In the words of a village member, "You have roots here in Uganda. You're a Musoga."

Vivian Ho, ’17, majored in human biology.
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