It has been more than two weeks that I have been staying in Lira. For the first two days after arriving in Lira, I did not feel 100% well. This is due to the distance I traveled by car, the holes in the road and the change in weather, which made my body restless. I haven’t really been able to rest since I arrived in Uganda. I feel like my body hasn’t gotten a good rest. I suspect that my body was acting strange from the beginning, since I arrived in Lira, that it started shivering, feeling cold and hot, had a little sore throat, a little lightheaded. I was afraid at first that I had gotten malaria, but that’s not the case. I think those symptoms come from low blood pressure combined with the body being exhausted.
At the beginning of the week, I had an orientation week about the organization. CCVS (Center for Children in Vulnerable Situations) is an organization that promotes the mental health of children, adolescents and adults. It is an organization that conducts research and fieldwork. I participated in the fieldwork by going to the villages which are 4 hours drive back and forth. I must say that this was really tiring, but one day after another I got carsick. It was interesting to see how the group counseling was given by psychological counselors.
On Tuesday and Wednesday we attended the first session in the field and it consisted of women in Ngai and Abok. The psychological counselors were the ones who gave the sessions and interpreted for me and my mentor so that we could follow the sessions. The session is held in the local language (Luo language). During the group sessions, I took notes so that I could easily follow the sessions and remember what the sessions were about: talking about the different topics, doing different exercises, etc. At the end of the week, we had a meeting on Friday. At the meeting we had to update each other on how we were feeling, and what the challenges and successes of the week were.
I was well received by my mentor and she really made sure I was settled in overall. One weekend I was invited by her to her house for dinner, along with her friend. First, I got a tour of the city with my personal Boda Boda. He drove me around to discover places and streets. I also drove through Got Ngetta Rock and stopped to take some photos and videos. On Sunday, I decided to go to the salon, where the person in charge of my accommodation contacted the person who always does her hair. So she helped me make an appointment, so you can see in the photo below what my braided hair looks like 🙂
During the second week in Lira, I did some office work. I talked to staff members about their work, I asked questions and observed. On Tuesday, I went to the field in Ngai. There I participated in 2 group sessions. This was session 2 for all in one day. I had to take notes from the group sessions so that I can fill in the notes later in the assessments of the session notes. The colleague guided me on what I needed to do. I sat and brainstormed ideas for my research proposal. During the weekend, I met the new Chief Executive Director of CCVS, she is a Dutch person from Kampala. I had a one-on-one conversation with her.
On Thursday, I went for the first time to another village, ‘Aromo’, together with my mentor and the new Chief Executive Director. I went there to observe the ‘male’ group sessions and did a short introduction. It was interesting to see how psychological counselors handle male group sessions compared to female group sessions. I wrote down some observation notes about their gestures and behavioral aspects. I could not understand what they were saying because we decided not to follow their stories because it is their second session and to see strangers appear in the middle of a sensitive topic. We told the psychologist to talk in his language without interpreting. My mentor and the new Chief Executive Director and I talked about conducting family therapy training for staff members because I was talking about my previous education. I majored in Family Studies; they came up with that idea. I even talked about some topics that I noticed the organization was not focusing on such as “Family Reunification” for former child soldier in families. My mentor thought this was a good idea to implement in a case manual.
On Tuesday, the person in charge of the accommodation had a birthday that day. Her husband organized a small surprise birthday party in the restaurant’s bar. It was fun, I met new people and danced in a club for the first time since COVID-19. Of course, we still respected the restrictions and rules.
On Friday we had another meeting, but even during the meeting I had to go with my landlord to register with the security officer and the chief official and I got their contact information. Then we were invited to a welcome party with the staff. It is a party meant for me and the new Chief Executive Director.