Brooke’s Bombo Blog#3

29 August 2019

This past week I met with all the Donela teachers who have taught the Health Together curriculum to their classes since the HT team left in March. Over the past few months, the Donela teachers have implemented Health Together modules to 570 students!

That means 570 students have begun learning and developing healthy habits related to exercise, nutrition, hand washing, and malaria prevention to prevent some of the most common diseases causing early childhood death in Uganda. Diarrheal disease is the top killer of kids in Uganda, preventable through handwashing and clean water. Further, children adopting healthy eating and exercising habits now can help prevent diseases like hypertension and diabetes later. 

At the beginning of Health Together, the task of partnering with Donela teachers to promote a new culture around health seemed daunting. Then, I arrived in Uganda and realized how much needed to be done regarding health education and I was even more overwhelmed. But, with my buddies here in Bombo who are very passionate about kids living healthy whole lives for God’s glory, great strides have been made–just look at the number of kids who were educated.

I have also had the opportunity to meet with some Donela students to hear what they had learned from the Health Together curriculum. Students were able to tell me healthy habits they have adopted because of the lessons, giving examples not explicitly taught. This showed me they understand how to apply the greater principle to their lives. For example, one student said she used to put a lot of sugar in her tea, and now she does not. Another student said, “Before, I used to take 10 sweets every day, now I only take 1!” I had the class applaud for her.

Bombo teachers told me students used to run back from the toilet, and now they see them stopping to wash their hands at the newly renovated sinks. We talked about how this is an opportunity to affirm students, telling them ‘well done’ as we say in Uganda, for preventing sickness by washing their hands. Teachers have also noticed students drinking more water and not taking soda as frequently.

The students in Bombo are so excited about their learning, One HTC lesson had students go outside and demonstrate their favorite exercise, which received rave reviews from both students and teachers.
It is crazy to me the things I grew up learning about health simply because of the environment I was in of opportunity and education. There was always a healthy option to eat, and I knew what it was. There was structured physical education classes with brightly colored dodge balls and nice basketball courts. I had a drawer full of sparkly leotards to wear to my gymnastics classes next to a gathering pile of competition medals. Healthy habits were easily learned into my life because of all the access I had.

With the teachers in Uganda, some kids ask them question like, how can I have a healthy plate, I only eat posho? Or make statements like, Mommy and daddy share their beer with me. I’m not clean because mommy doesn’t care. I truly believe so much of this is because of lack of education. If parents don’t know the healthy option or the negative effects of certain choices on their child’s health, how can we expect them to choose differently? This is why Health Together exists. So that when these kids go home at the end of the day and play with friends and continue to grow up, they can make the choice of health and share this with others. As a teacher reminded us, if kids are healthy, they are able to live their lives fully how God intended.

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