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Angida the saviour of Serere

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd March 2011 03:00 AM

IT is 10:45am. The mid morning sun is pelting the earth with burning sun rays. A dozen women have sheltered under a huge mango tree engrossed in exciting gossip and coarse jokes.

IT is 10:45am. The mid morning sun is pelting the earth with burning sun rays. A dozen women have sheltered under a huge mango tree engrossed in exciting gossip and coarse jokes.

By Daniel Edyegu

IT is 10:45am. The mid morning sun is pelting the earth with burning sun rays. A dozen women have sheltered under a huge mango tree engrossed in exciting gossip and coarse jokes.

A few more have swarmed at the adjacent borehole with containers waiting for their turn to fetch water.

The quiet conversation under the mango tree is only punctuated by outburst of loud laughter.

Then there is a sudden rush of activity.

“Pick the chair for the visitor. Notify all those women who are still behind to come over,” an elderly woman instructs a young girl.

“Iyalama aanyun inaasi (You are welcome nurse),” they say almost in unison. “Ejijim balla lolo akiro iyangaunit ijo isio noi (It seems you have the most thrilling message for us today),” another interjects.

The women at the borehole abandon the wait and join the rest to commune under mango tree.

A fairly light skinned and middle-aged woman alights from a boda boda boda to exchange pleasantries with the women.

This is Esther Angida who serves with the voluntary health teams (VHTs) in Amiria village, Kadungulu sub county, Serere district.

VHTs are community members at village level that aim at improving health status of the people. It is an initiative of the health ministry to scale up access to medical care in the rural communities. The VHTs are charged with educating communities on common diseases such as malaria and distributing drugs.

Inaasi, as Angida is fondly known in Amiria village, located a stone’s throw away from Lake Kyoga, has become a household name for helping create awareness about antenatal services, family planning and maternal health care in the rural communities.

Tuesday and Friday are her busiest days. That is when she schedules a meeting with the women in the village to educate them about various aspects concerning maternal health and sanitation.

“The borehole is a strategic place because all women converge here to fetch water after garden work. I tell them the relevance of seeking antenatal services after getting pregnant, breastfeeding and family planning so they can raise a manageable number of children whom they can provide for. She also tells them about safer sex.

“I also advise mothers on how to keep proper hygiene in their homesteads to avoid the breakout of diseases,” Angida says.

Elderly women, pregnant mothers, those with babies, teenagers, female pupils and students comprise the bulk of participants during the routine meetings. The meetings that usually start on a calm note often flare up in question and answer sessions; sometimes straying away from the agreed theme.

In 2009, Angida left Amakio Health Centre in Olio sub county where she served as a VHT to settle in Kadungulu trading centre. With barely any geographical knowledge of her new home, she started traversing the village on foot, spreading the message on better practices on maternal health among mothers in Angida village.

Like any new person in a given locality, her initial activities attracted scorn and suspicion among the rural women.

The meetings were not any better. Angida says at times, one or two persons turned up and none on some occasions.

“Perhaps women thought I was a volunteer with a fraudulent civil organisation out to rip them off. I persisted and with time, the attendance increased,” Angida says.

When she opened St. Gloria Clinic at Kadungulu trading centre in March last year, mothers drew closer to her. The multipurpose clinic served as a ‘maternity ward’ with Angida as its sole midwife.

“When mothers approach to seek medical care, I take the opportunity to prepare tell them how to prepare for child birth. It is vital for a mother to have four clean change-knickers, baby sheets and some money before the day of delivery,” Angida explains.

During the lunch break, female students from a nearby secondary schools flock the clinic to interact with Angida on issues pertaining reproductive health.

Gladys Adeco, 50, says when her daughter-in-law had a premature birth at six months in 2008, Angida helped to incubate the baby using local remedies until the baby gained strength to breastfeed.

“Kadungulu Health Centre has only two nurses serving multitudes of patients. Besides, it is far. This lady has been of great help to us. If the Government can only avail her with medical items and a structure, we are ready to sacrifice land so she can establish where to operate,” Adeco says.

For James Eguru, the LC1 Angica village, Angida’s activities have helped bolster the impact of the sanitation campaigns in the area.

Unlike in the past where households kept adamant towards calls for sanitation in their homes, Eguru says Angida’s strategy of approaching the campaign through mothers has worked wonders.

“A random look at the 224 households in this village indicates that sanitation is now better. Women have plate stands, tidy compounds and have impressed on their spouses to dig pit latrines,” Eguru says.

Born to Lucy Angida and the late Justine Okwallinga in Idupa village, Olio sub county twenty four years ago, Angida discovered her passion for mothers while at Serere Township college in 1999.

Then, she was a member of the Straight Talk Club that discussed, among other issues, reproductive health.

When she completed O' level at Ngora Girls Secondary school in 2002, Angida joined St. Joseph Nursing School in Busembatia for a two-year course that would qualify her as a registered nurse. However, her father died in 2004 when Angida was just nine months into the course.

She dropped out of school and trained with Amakio Health Centre as a volunteer in 2000.

She hopes to go back to school this year to complete the course.

Angida the saviour of Serere

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