World Malaria Day Project Results

April 25th was World Malaria Day/WMD. March – May was our time to shine as the Stomp Out Malaria program coordinators in Kenya and shine we did through the incredible work of our volunteers. In celebration of WMD our volunteers completed 26 projects which reached over 52,000 community members and they are still working to reach even more.

Malaria in Kenya is daunting and a little bit mind boggling considering the amount of resources we have and the amount of efforts geared towards reducing the burden. Sometimes the large organizations are just out of touch but PCVs are not visitors but members of their communities for 2 years and we know exactly what the problem is in our small areas and how to solve them…then we do exactly that.

The 3 initiatives that we wrote proposals for, secured funding, and supported our volunteers through were malaria murals, information booths/tables and bed net use appreciated photo displays. All 3 of these projects attack what’s now needed in the fight against malaria: behavior change. The murals serve as a constant reminder to sleep under your net and other preventative or treatment methods, the information booths give you opportunity to have one-on-one dialog to answer questions and dispel myths and the photo project publicly recognizes community members who have adopted healthy behaviors. Here are some results…

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Camp GLOW: Girls Leading Our World…in Funyula

“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud” -Coco Chanel

I coordinated a Camp GLOW: Girls Leading Our World, in my local community where we focused on character development, health/healthy living and professional development. Camp GLOW is a PEPFAR and Peace Corps initiative, they hold large regional camps annually in Kenya. I applied for a grant through World Connect to host a local GLOW in my community.

You might remember a few of my students were selected to attend Peace Corps Kenya’s Western Region GLOW. In the regional camps each volunteer can nominate 2-3 students to attend. My students came back and the hundreds that remained wondered why they didn’t have the opportunity. I’ve never had a project feel so necessary. I’m happy I was able to host a project encouraged by my community.

130 girl students ranging from ages 10-19
9 participating schools
5 days to impart knowledge and have a ton of fun
6 volunteer trainers who lead sessions for 3 days
6 community professionals who participated in the career panel
160 bed nets distributed/sold in a community where finding nets is a challenge unless you’re pregnant.
96 bottles of water guard distributed to encourage clean water practices

The stats above are some quantifiable measures of what I was able to achieve with help from my fellow volunteers and community members.

Camp Schedule:

Day 1: Registration

Day 2: Character Development

  • Self Esteem and Body Image
  • Peer Pressure
  • Self Expression Art Project/Self-Portraits
  • Gender Roles

Day 3: Health

  • Menstruation and Reusable Sanitary Pads
  • Malaria
  • HIV/AIDS/STIs
  • Healthy Relationships

Day 4: Professional Development

  • Goal Setting and Vision Boards
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Crafts/Developing Skills to Create Goods
  • Career Panel

Day 5: Community Presentation Day

  • Student testimonials
  • Art Presentation
  • Talent/Entertainment
  • Speech: Area Representative
  • Speech: Area Chief
  • Health Presentation: Water and Sanitation
  • Health Presentation: Malaria Prevention
  • Pineapple Eating Contest
  • Presentation of Awards

I heard of the transformation that occurs during Camp GLOW. I feel so privileged to have seen these girls come out of their shells, find their voices, and work on their talents. I transformed as well.

I don’t want to paint a picture of helpless girls and women. I don’t think I could if I tried. These girls and women who carry water and firewood for miles, who work in farms and care for cattle, who are in charge of the families health and nutrition and sanitation, these girls are strong. Their schedules are intense and usually start before the sun rises. However, when you try to understand the stagnation in their ability to be as successful as they have the potential to be you can look to some limitations placed on them by societal gender roles, lack of education and education opportunities, lack of resources, lack of an accurate account of their self worth.

I never want to forget a moment of the time I had with them.

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World Malaria Day: The Prep

I feel like the proud mother of approximately 400. Especially when my girls KILLED this poem.

 

World Malaria Day is April 25th and I’ve been working with my students and the teaching staff to create a program to educate the community. Malaria, a preventable disease, continues to affect thousands per month in my community alone. My students are working to ensure every member of this community is entertained and informed about Malaria.

Skits…check

Songs…check

Rap…check

Poems…check

Drum beat on the jerry can…check

Eating contest (yeah I don’t know how that fits in either…but)…check

I watched with tears in my eyes as I previewed the program. Here are some photos from rehearsal.

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Dialog Day

Donor syndrome is when a country’s dependence on foreign aid paralyzes their ability to solve the same problem with their own means. It’s an argument you’ll find on the con side of development work. It’s something you’ll occasionally hear Peace Corps Volunteers complain about. As Peace Corps Volunteers our job is to create sustainable projects, projects that people will carry on even after we leave, and a major obstacle to that is changing the minds of those who would prefer we funnel in resources.

Kenya has a tiered health care system that starts at the community level with community health workers (CHWs): volunteers who teach the community and refer cases to the right facilities for the care they need. It’s a beautiful thing.

It’s anti-donor syndrome. It’s people volunteering to improve their community. I attended dialog day in the Wakhungu Location. Dialog day is where CHWs and Community Health Extension Workers (CHEWs) come together to compare statistics on everything from homes with latrines (pit toilets), to school drop outs, to births in and out of health care facilities and more. The community looks at the statistics from the previous quarter to determine the focus of the current quarter.

In this meeting we went line by line of the data collected to discuss why we felt the statistics had improved or worsened and what we could do to ensure a positive outcome for the next quarter.

I love working with the CHWs and CHEWs.

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Meeting my Kids

I had my introductory meeting with the school where I’ll teach Life Skills classes starting next term, Nangina Mixed Primary School. Life Skills is an extracurricular course where we’ll discuss health and social issues.

After a morning discussing abortion and a planning meeting for World AIDS Day I thought I’d spice it up and talk about mental health with my kids. Guess what? They actually enjoyed it. We discussed how love of self and love and acceptance from family, friends and community affect our productivity and physical health.

While they are on break I have assigned them to pay special attention to things that make them feel good about themselves and the things that don’t. I really want to tackle self esteem this year.

 My introduction to the students

Q & A

After speaking a student got up to appreciate me for coming

The 2 other students that got up to appreciate me after the 1st student. They felt he didn’t quite cover it. They were all so sweet.