On our last day in Uganda we woke early to finish packing. The Director of Set Her Free, Robinah, came to the guest house and made us one of our favorite local Ugandan foods, chapati.
After cooking with Robinah we met the rest of the staff at the center where we talked about some of our favorite moments we had spent together. It was these moments reminiscing with the staff that perfectly summarize #whyGROW. As we shared some of our favorite moments from the trip, which varied from the trip to Rakai with Set Her Free and Reproductive Health Uganda staff for reusable sanitary pad distribution to graduation day to visiting the tailoring shop. We were reminded by the staff how the Rakai sanitary pad program was started by our first GlobeMed GROW team. We reminisced on how much we had seen the girls at the vocational school grow in confidence. We also thought about when we saw the Set Her Free Tailoring Center and how last year’s team had started that program. Without GlobeMed, these programs would have never been started.
The Rakai program has seen significant growth since it was started three years ago. Set Her Free continued to expand that program to include sexual and reproductive health classes and this year they were able to offer the girls at Rakai free HIV testing. We saw how the previous sanitary pad program continued to be incorporated into GWU GlobeMed’s recent project of the Tailoring Center when we saw the sanitary pads being made by the employees of the tailoring center.
Most importantly, we look to the future of our partnership with Set Her Free. Not only will GlobeMed at GWU be expanding the Tailoring Center to be able to handle larger orders of school uniforms but it will also take steps towards Set Her Free’s self reliance and independence by increasing their income. The Tailoring Center was a huge initiative taken on by last year’s GWU GROW team, and Set Her Free far surpassed expectations for finishing it quickly and getting it up and running. To think that the Tailoring Center didn’t exist around the same time last year is almost hard to imagine, not just because we became so well acquainted with the Tailoring Center staff, but also because it was incredible how many contracts and how much work they were already doing. However, the Tailoring Center was not yet at the perfection Set Her Free Director Robinah wanted it to be. Her goals for next year were to make it more profitable by increasing their capacity and training girls in new skills, like how to make sweaters for school uniforms.
On that last day all the reasons you may ask #whyGROW were answered. The staff looked to the future of GWU GlobeMed’s partnership as we reminisced on past successes. We will remember the relationships we formed with both the beneficiaries and the staff at Set Her Free for a lifetime. We collected so many great interviews to bring back to share with the rest of our chapter about who our partner is so we can start creating a stronger bond between the people at Set Her Free and our members even if they have never been on GROW. Most importantly, Set Her Free staff and the GlobeMed at GWU GROW team all agreed that our trip was too short, and that next year’s team should definitely stay longer.