Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reflection Blog: Water and Sanitation Group 2

Our reflection session occurred the day after each group got to spend the entire day shadowing their home stay families, an event that we were all both anxious about and looking forward to. Prior to the reflection session, we had a quick debrief in the morning about our experiences and we already noticed a difference in gender roles. The boys in the group clearly had entirely different experiences than the girls in the group. The boys were not invited by their families to participate in chores, cooking, and housework, whereas the girls were taught how to peel matooke, crack groundnuts, sweep the compound, wash clothes, clean dishes, etc. The extent of participation the boys experienced was limited to observing processes such as making barkcloth, which is a cloth made from the bark of a tree that is used for arts and crafts, and as a sign of respect during a burial. For the most part, the girls in the group were able to interact with the women in the household whereas the boys were only able to interact with the men. Observations were also made about gender roles within the household; aligned with their cultural standards, women and girls in the family would kneel when greeting people and would eat on the floor apart from the men and guests.

During the reflection session, we opened by asking each group to briefly describe their day with their families and something new they learned. For the most part, people picked up new Ugandan words and phrases, different types of agricultural products, and household skills. We were happy to learn that everyone's initial impressions of their families had changed for the better and over the course of just a few days, people had developed strong relationships with their families. A fun question we asked was about the most interesting members of the families. Many people told stories about rambunctous and mischievous children who were always at the center of attention. When asked about the goals they had in the beginning of the home stay and whether or not they achieved them, people had very positive responses, whether their goals were to form bonds with members in the families or to successfully bathe with a basin of water. Some goals that were not achieved were usually due to the gender divide because the interactions the boys in the group had with women in their families were very limited. 

Since we are one of the Water and Sanitation groups, we asked some questions focusing on water usage in the households. Most groups were taken by their families to visit water sources that the households used and some were even able to participate in the collection of water with jerrycans, which proved to be quite a laborious process. Everybody gained a new appreciation of water and awareness of their own habits with water compared to the households. One person spoke about how they realized in their American home, they would leave the faucet running while brushing their teeth, but in Uganda they learned how to conserve water and use it more efficiently.

Everybody had a very successful experience with their home stay families and formed lasting bonds with them. Not only did we all discover new things about Ugandan culture, we also discovered aspects of ourselves that proved to be resilient and adaptable.

Conducted Friday, January 13, 2012.

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