Ensuring Kids’ Health through Health Promotions workshops in primary schools

Showing kids how to wash their hands with soap

“I think this is the most important thing to know, that everyone is equal, we are all deserving of love, respect and acceptance. We are a person before an illness.” Kirstens, Canadian intern

At the beginning of the school year, 2012, URF has started facilitating health education workshops in village schools starting with primary schools in the area. Our staff and volunteers speak about health issues such as personal hygiene, malaria, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and various diseases common in the area.  This piece is written by Kirsten, a URF intern from Canada.

“As 2pm neared and our 1:30 lunch came to a close, we were meant to travel to Kyetume Primary School to do a leadership and health talk but a thunderous rain began to bucket down.

At the school we spoke for 2 hours about leadership and health promotion, I discussed public speaking and HIV/AIDS. We sat at the front of the class on plastic chairs. I noticed the chairs right away because the production and renting of the chairs is run by the men’s empowerment group at URF and each chair is rented at 300 shillings each. We introduced ourselves to the many students aged 5-13 in English. I said that my name was Kirsten and that I came from a town called Kamloops in Canada, so that in every way I could be, I was a guest on their land, in beautiful Uganda and thanked them for having me.

The men in our group were asked to speak first and then I was next. I was going to be speaking English, and Martin would be translating that into Lugandan for me. I stood up and said that I was going to be talking about public speaking, but that I wanted them to see me as their equal and not their teacher because they had a lot of knowledge that I hoped to learn from them. I also said that we had received the chance to introduce ourselves, but that I was looking forward to learning all of their names over the next 4 months. Both the students and teachers broke out into huge smiles and appeared to like this very much. I said that speaking without distractions was important so that people could focus on what was said, and in Lugandan did two examples, a good one and bad one of public speaking about how I liked cows and chickens and goats which made everyone laugh.

I wanted to discuss HIV/AIDS in a non-frightening way due to the young age group so I started with an activity. I said, “give three people a high 5, now give 2 people a handshake, give someone a hug. These are all safe things to do with someone that has HIV/AIDS. You can also eat food prepared by, drink the same water and share a towel.” Then I talked about how HIV/AIDS was a blood disease that lowered your immune system, how it was transmitted and how and where you could receive treatment. I finished by saying “I think this is the most important thing to know, that everyone is equal, we are all deserving of love, respect and acceptance. We are a person before an illness.” All the teaches and students nodded in agreement and clapped.

During one of the other presentations the students had to get into partners. One girl did not have a partner so I went into the audience and became her partner. She stared up at me as whispers of “muzunga” filled the room. I shook her hand and brought her a seat, I could tell this was going to be bragging material for her for a while.

At the end of our presentations we left the class and walked to the bus. The students ran after us, and we talked to them all in Lugandan, I had a handful of young female students come up to me and shake my hand with their left hand on their forearm and kneel down, the ultimate sign of respect and the first formal handshake I have seen.”


Bugonzi Primary School