Mubende Village is very rich in culture, style and religion. Churches and mosques are on nearly every corner, but health centers are not. So UNICEF uses the opportunity to capture village citizens coming in droves to worship, and offers free immunizations, de-worming, birth registry, blood pressure and HIV/AIDS testing and results.
Shot@Life gave us the opportunity to observe a Family Healthy Day during the Muslim Holiday Eid Al-Adha. Families from all over the village came for worship at the Mubende Town Mosque. Women were adorned in their best attire, as were the children and men. There was a sense of pride for each family as they joined worship.
There was clearly a separation of men and women. The Imam (Leader) lead all of the men and boys onto the front lawn to pray, as the women and girls entered around the back of the building. I was sure to observe only from a distance to ensure I respected their space.
After their service concluded, families lined up to receive their free health services. It was difficult to hear the cries of the babies as they received shots. But I also felt a sense of relief, as the temporary pain would literally save their lives.
I stayed clear of the HIV/AIDS testing area, as parents were visibly stressed and worried about the procedure and the results they would later receive. I was told there is a stigma attached to getting HIV/AIDS testing in Uganda, as women are afraid that positive results will break their families apart. Although men are a large percentage of the carriers, if their women are discovered to be infected, some men consider their wives unclean. As a result, women are afraid to get tested.
The mosque is a sacred place, and as such, unless you are of the Muslim faith, you are not permitted to enter the building. I was especially grateful to have been given permission to enter by one of the church officials. But not without removing my shoes and wrapping my head in true Muslim reverence. The official gave a tour to a small group of Shot@Life Champions, explaining their practices and placements. Again with the men in the front separated by a wall with the women and children in the back.
We were introduced to the Imam, government officials and elders who were happy to have us there and expressed their sincere gratitude for the work we are doing with Shot@Life in getting medication to their citizens.
Part of the Eid Al-Adha holiday tradition is for a family to donate cattle to be sacrificed as a sign of worship. What I did not realize when we arrived was the cow tied to the tree near where we were sitting was the one selected. I will spare you the photos. But let’s just say that families waited around for their portion of the cow once he had been dismembered.
It became obvious to me after making my way around that each time I looked down, there was a gorgeous little girl in a beautiful green dress who was following me. I finally stopped to talk with her and take photos, as I did with other children who wore bright smiles and seemed to be fascinated with us visitors. Tawaino, the father of a little girl and very proud son of the village, moved to Kampala (the capital) to begin a recycling business to support his family. However, he always finds time to return to the village of his birth to provide support.
The people of Mubende take pride in their religion and culture.
What traditions does your family share?