Uganda Uncovered

The Haas IBD team has been in Uganda for just over 2 weeks now, and as we prepare to leave this weekend, it’s an opportune time to reflect on what has been an eye-opening experience in-country.

Our client, PACE, is a fantastic NGO working to promote wider usage of family planning in a country that has one of the highest birth rates in the world; the average rate is 4 children in urban areas, but 7 in rural areas, and the country has around 88% of the population located in these rural areas, highlighting the extent of the problem.

Over the past 2 weeks, we have visited PACE’s clinics throughout the country and talked to the healthcare providers about the challenges of providing family planning services to the population. Yesterday we presented to the client about the opportunities and challenges they face; we had a good discussion and hopefully some of our suggestions will help them as they look to the future. Travelling across Uganda, visiting different clinics in the different regions, was a great experience and we met some fantastic healthcare professionals who are really committed to the PACE cause.

However, the highlight of the trip for me was not work-related, but rather occurred this past weekend when we were in the South West of the country. I went gorilla tracking in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, which is close to the borders with the DRC and Rwanda. Over half the world’s 700 or so remaining mountain gorillas live in Uganda, and Bwindi is home to many of them. We began our day on Sunday at 8am with a briefing about the gorillas, and then drove an hour to begin our expedition. It took over an hour and a half to locate the group we were tracking, but all the fatigue ebbed away after seeing all the individuals lazing on the forest floor taking in a late morning nap. As the photo shows, the babies were not so tired and were eager to come closer and explore further. Watching the entire troupe interacting was a surreal experience and reminded me of just how closely related we are to these amazing creatures. We were only allowed to spend an hour with the gorillas, but it was time and money all well spent, and truly the highlight of this amazing time in Uganda.

—Omair Azam

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