My time in Kampala went very well and I was able to do some very valuable pretesting of my interview questions with Mulago Hospital medical students that I was put in contact with through Dan Kendall. It was a great way to get acclimated to the country and to get comfortable performing interviews. (The unending network of Notre Dame connections never fails to astound me!)
When I moved to Fort Portal I hit one of the first road blocks that I had been constantly warned occur during research. During the planning phases of my project I had been in contact with administrator of Virika School of Nursing and was prepared to conduct my interviews on the campus, not interviewing the hospital staff. However, when I arrived on my first day the superintendent of the hospital said I needed approval from the research ethics board at the hospital as well. I was concerned that this would take weeks and I would not be able to complete my project in time. In the research methods class we frequently talked about similar scenarios arising during research and prepared ourselves to be able to adjust our projects to fit the situations that arise while we are in the field. But despite all this preparation, it was still terrifying to feel as if my project had been quickly derailed.
So, I worked with my in-country contact, Fr. Joe Musana, to develop a new plan. Fr. Joe is the director of Caritas for Fort Portal, so I was able to work with the Healthcare Coordinator of the Diocese to identify other diocesan healthcare facilities and schools to perform interviews at while I waited to hear back from Virika. I have conducted 18 interviews thus far and have already heard back from Virika ethics board, so I will be able to conduct my interviews there next week. Thankfully, I was able to develop a solution to my problem and keep my project on track. I have already learned so much about, not only maternal healthcare, but also about the welcoming and exciting culture in Uganda. This has also already been a great experience in personal growth. I have learned to advocate for myself and problem-solve, and I look forward to continuing this learning in the coming weeks.