Sunday, September 25, 2011

Research in Mpanga

the hills surrounding PROCOM's farm
 It's interesting what you'll find when you finally take what you learn in class and you begin to put faces and actualities to it. I've found it to be rather troublesome actually. It's a feeling of powerlessness, of walking into a situation almost empty-handed. It is painful but it is rewarding. 

I have spent this last week conducting research in the sector of Mpanga in the eastern region of Rwanda. Our group slept in tents, battled black ants and gave up on showers for a dusty week of visiting families and learning more about the needs of the community. This trip to the farm was the final project for our Social Context of Development class. We learned everyday about development, exploring what we can do and what needs to be done as development workers within Rwanda. And then there we were... meeting families, conducting surveys and putting all we've learned to some use. We spent three days from 8:30am until 2pm going from house to house with our translators and interviewed individual families from a survey. Each interview took about 30-45 minutes and usually included about 20 kids and various people surrounding the bench that each family pulled out for us to sit on while we talked. In the three days that I walked around with my translator I had interviewed a little over thirty families. Our survey in itself asked questions dealing with health, family and house size, how much water they consume in the wet and dry seasons and how far they go to collect wood. The real task as a researcher came in when we got to pose our own set of questions once the formal survey was over. I asked questions regarding meals, schooling for the children, sources of income and membership within the church. It is a terrible thing when your curiosity gets the best of you. Once the truth was exposed and I was left sitting with families of 6 or more people crammed into a 2 room mud house, living off of two or less meals a day, reality became a very difficult thing to be grafted unto.

widowed woman who takes care of 7 children

Day three troubled me the most. The first two days I felt useful, like I was contributing to something of worth and then we visited Rubaya... It was here that I met a lady who was suffering from a tooth ache that had turned into a complete disaster. When we approached her place I could tell something was wrong with her face, each cheek was painfully swollen to an unimaginable size. Then, to top it off, she had two scabbed holes right on her jaw line that was dripping out pus from her infection. I could hardly look at her when we were going through the interview. The smell that was emitted from her wounds, plus the continuous leaking infection brought me to the point where my stomach started to turn and I was afraid I was gonna lose it. She told me of the pain she was in and how the clinic, the medicine and even traditional healers had not helped her at all. I knew I had to offer her the only thing I had... prayer. I got a chance to pray over her face and for the pain she was experiencing and when I was finished she told me that she was starting to feel better already. She told me that she believed that God would heal the rest of her face that day, she had such confidence and faith. I found this entire exchange to be rather ironic because her name actually means Mercy. It was beyond encouraging to see this woman radiating with joy as we exchanged our goodbyes.

another kind family that I spent time with interviewing
Even though looking into the faces of poverty was heart-wrenching and difficult, I found each interview to be rather enjoyable. At times I felt as though, through the beauty of their language, that they were singing to me with their words.

greeted by a group of curious faces
The final two days of our time in Mpanga consisted of a compiling of all our data and a break down of statistics. The last day we got the opportunity to present our findings to the village leaders and locals. We had three different groups that worked together, created different posters, and presented the issues and statistics we had found. We then got to talk with the local leaders about what has been done for some of the big problems (like lack of water, food and hygiene) and also what needed to be done. They wanted answers from us, which we weren't anywhere near to having. But we also got to spark ideas through the questions we posed. It was a great way to finish off a challenging week, seeing the fruit of our labor.

me and my classmate presenting on the summary of our vulnerable household study

village leaders and members that showed up for our presentation
As a final note on this long post, I have some very exciting new that I want to share...
Tomorrow we leave for Uganda where we are going to spend 3 days in the capital (with a nice little adventure of white water rafting in the Nile). And once we leave Kampala on Thursday we are heading for our practicum sites. While we were in Mpanga our SLC's and practicum coordinator placed us at the sites where we will be living for the next month annnnndddd *drum roll please*

I am returning to Hoima, Uganda to live with the family I spent a month with last year!!!!!

This is basically all I had dreamed of and prayed for when I knew I would be returning to Africa. I can't begin to describe how much I have missed that family and the people that I quickly grew to love. I am BEYOND excited to see them again and partner with them in their ministries. Not only that, this time I am bringing three of the other students with me to work and help out with their different projects. I'm not sure yet all that we will be doing but once we're settled in and if internet is available I will be updating you all about what we're up to from my new home.


  1. Linds - we prayed for you Sunday- and now it is so good to read this update. It brought tears to my eyes to read of all you are doing there- and the prayer and the healing!! WOW - God is good. Now I'm astounded at your drum roll announcement- how in the world did it work out for you to go back to Hoima!!! How amazing is that!!!! so glad for you.

  2. Way to go with the boldness!! Your testimony reaches all the way to encourage and build us up here in Kirkland!! More Lord!

  3. I'm so happy for you and I'm always encouraged by your posts.