One of the main tenets of GlobeMed’s model is the idea of partnership in which all actors are working toward a shared goal while constantly communicating and exchanging resources and ideas. This allows for transparency between GlobeMed at GW and our partner, Set Her Free, and it allows our organizations to continue to evaluate, to learn from our mistakes, and to ultimately improve our impact.
Two years ago the GROW team travelled to Kampala, Uganda for the first time when the partnership between GlobeMed and Set Her Free first began. During their time there, they developed an evaluation system for Set Her Free’s Pad Program. The Pad Program was established to provide sanitary pads to schoolgirls in a rural district of Uganda in the hopes of reducing the number of girls who miss school and subsequently drop out of school due to their periods and a lack of the necessary sanitary products. The GROW team intended to implement an evaluation system to collect data to understand and describe the impact of the program and discover possible ways to improve it.
Despite our good intentions, multiple factors contributed to the ultimate failure of this evaluation system. The evaluation system involved both an interview with the girls receiving the pads and the digitization of the data from Set Her Free’s previously filled out intake forms. The main issue that the team encountered while conducting the interviews was the issue of the language barrier between the students and the GROW interns. There were a few Set Her Free staff available to help with translation, but there were still communication issues between the GROW team and the girls at the school. With the digitization aspect of the evaluation system, the Set Her Free centers did not have as much internet access as the GROW team previously thought which posed problems because the forms were in an online Google form format. In addition, it was necessary to train Set Her Free staff on how to utilize the Google form that had been created to continue entering data about the girls into the system. This training turned out to be difficult and ineffective. In the end, it was determined that the evaluation system as planned was not very useful at that point in time and did not result in useable data.
This does not mean that Set Her Free as well as the GlobeMed students did not learn anything from this experience. One main positive outcome of the interview process was that Set Her Free staff was able to discover a few ways to improve the sanitary pad kits given to the students by including underwear and soap to clean the pads. These additions addressed some of the problems the girls were experiencing in trying to make the pads last for a longer period of time. Also, moving forward, Set Her Free staff should have enough people conducting interviews that speak Luganda, the language spoken by the girls in the school.
Overall, the GROW team realized that at that point in time Set Her Free did not have the appropriate resources to implement an evaluation system in the form that the GROW interns believed would be the best option. This led to the decision to refocus GlobeMed’s resources and energy to a new program conceived by Set Her Free staff, establishing a tailoring center to employ girls in the Set Her Free program in internships and to serve as a revenue source for the centers (more info about this program can be found on our other Global Giving page: https://www.globalgiving.org/ projects/shftailoringcenter/).
Realizing that GlobeMed’s resources could be utilized more effectively for this program instead of the pad program was a key step in developing our partnership with Set Her Free. Also important was transparency and communication with Set Her Free during this transition. This is a great example of how in implementing a project idea such as this not everything will go as planned. It is important to be flexible and realize that what you come in thinking would be the best way to solve a problem may not be viable or the most effective solution. This is especially true in the cases of implementing a program in another country such as in this case with Set Her Free.
Thank you to all of our supporters who have followed GlobeMed and Set Her Free in this journey as we work toward developing a partnership that allows us to learn from our mistakes and to work together toward creating a more equitable health and economic environment for girls living in Kampala, Uganda.
The GlobeMed Team