Monday, 2 July 2012

What, my proposal has been approved and I have a home?

That's me sorting out my questionnaires

Today was a GREAT day. Firstly, I received an email this morning from the dean of University of Mbarara informing me that my research proposal has been approved by the local ethics committee. Yes, my proposal has finally been approved, 30 days after it was approved by the University of Iowa ethics committee and exactly 38 days after I landed into the country. I am beyond happy. Now I can start thinking about how I am going to do things (I need a work plan). My initial plan was to interview 65 people (50 parents/guardians and 15 healthcare providers) in approximately eleven weeks. Now I am left with only about six weeks to do all 65 interviews. While 65 doesn’t sound like a huge number, anyone who does research understands that recruiting 65 people can easily take more than six weeks. The recruitment process can take a long time because not everyone approached may be eligible or willing to participate in the study. So it possible that I may approach well over a 100 people and only get 50 participants or less. Apart from the difficulty of recruiting people, there are other things like participants withdrawals and such that may delay the study.  Though I have very little time left to complete the study, I am pretty sure I can still pull off 65 interviews in six weeks. I will just have to work at a very fast paste, which I don’t mind doing. After all, I’ve been slacking since I got here so some hard work wouldn’t hurt.

This house is like a mini mansion
Secondly, I’ve been blessed with a host family here in Mbarara. Dr. Juliet (my staff advisor) and her husband have asked me to move into their house for the remainder of my time here. I can’t thank them enough for having saved me from the struggle of living in hotel rooms. Don’t get me wrong. Staying in hotels is fun and adventurous; however, the loneliness I felt while staying there is not worth the fun at all. I am so used to living with other people. I’ve lived with my family most of my life, and when I wasn't living with them I was living with friends or relatives. With that being said, living alone in a hotel was like torture to me. Plus, it was starting to get a little too expensive. I was spending $50 a day for a king size bedroom. This is the standard price in this town for a room that comes with breakfast, hot water, DSTV (satellite TV), mosquito net, and most importantly, security. Cheaper rooms normally include one or two of the things listed above, but not all of them. Frankly, I could live without the TV and breakfast, but hot water, mosquito net, and security are a must have. In addition to the $50 I was spending on hotel rooms every day, I was spending about $10 a day on meals ($5 on lunch and $5 on dinner) and about $5-10 more on miscellaneous things. At the end of the day, I found myself spending about $70-80 everyday. Dr. Juliet has done me a huge favor by asking me to stay with her and her family.

The backyard
Actually, let me rephrase that. I won’t be staying with her family. I will be staying with just her. Her family doesn’t live here. They live in Kampala (Uganda’s capital city). A few years ago, her husband was offered a job in Kampala and the family had to move there. Dr. Juliet’s husband and their three children moved but she stayed behind for employment reasons. While they live in Kampala, she lives here in Mbarara all alone in a huge five-bedroom, three bathroom house. The house is like a mini mansion. It is so big that it becomes scary. I personally wouldn’t live in it alone, but she obviously doesn’t mind. Kampala is only 4 hours away though, so she manages to travel to there every weekend to visit her husband and kids.

When I got to the house, she took me to the guest room and told me that it will be my room for the next six weeks. The guest room is like a mini studio apartment in itself. Inside there’s a queen size bed, a couch, a huge armoire, a radio, and a TV. It also has a private bathroom, which I am so grateful for because this way I don’t have to be in Dr. Juliet's way. The only thing it’s probably missing is a kitchen. The first thing she told me when we got to the house was that I could stay with her under one condition. She said I have to buy my own food because she hardly ever cooks, therefore she doesn’t keep any food in the house. “That’s it”, I thought. Getting my own food is no problem. I was afraid she was going to say something else. I’m not sure what I thought it would be, but I didn’t expect it to be good. Dr. Juliet seems like a chilled person. She is definitely kind. She didn’t have to welcome me into her home, but she did. I am so grateful for her kindness. I am looking forward to spending the rest of my time here with her.

That's all I have for now.....until next time!

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