I’m sitting outside of Nawansiinge Health Centre II in the grassy area because the all the seats in the waiting area are occupied. Nurse Betty told me that if I wanted to meet with her, I would have to wait until she had finished serving all the patients. So, I wait.
Nurse Betty is a dedicated government health worker; she arrives to the clinic early and continues to take patients long after most of her colleagues leave for the day. Each health center has targets to reach – a certain number of HIV or malaria tests to conduct each quarter, and it is clear that Betty is committed to reaching those goals. Today, I’m here to introduce UVP to her and request any supplies she can provide. Nawansiinge Health Centre serves UVP’s 2020 villages, so it should be fairly easy to gain her assistance in providing supplies for the upcoming HIV outreach because it will directly benefit her catchment area.
When she finishes with the last patient, I formally introduce UVP’s work to Nurse Betty. She admits that she has not heard of UVP, but seems very interested in our work. We discuss at length our mutual mission of delivering health services in communities that need it most and the challenges of that endeavor: long distances to travel, unmaintained roads, and a lack of funding for such outreaches. Our mutual passion for the work is evident, which is why I was surprised that she didn’t immediately provide supplies – she said she needed to speak to her supervisor. Understandably so, I think to myself.
True to her word, Nurse Betty calls me back the next day to tell me that her supervisor has approved for Nawansiinge Health Centre to work with UVP by providing supplies and health workers to conduct HIV outreaches. Although Nurse Betty was not familiar with UVP’s work, her supervisor was and expressed great interest in working with us. It is this moment that I realize the power of a relationship – UVP works with many health centers in the area, and health workers collaborate frequently. Because of our deep relationships both in villages and health centers, the supervisor at Nawansiinge Health Centre II knew about UVP and trusted us. To us, trust is the highest compliment.
By Harriet Nakayiza, Program Coordinator