OVPs: Khalil’s Siku ya Elimu kwa Jamii

Khalil coordinated a 3-day community health program called “Siku ya Elimu kwa Jamii” (Family Education Day). Each day we went to a different village and raised awareness on challenges facing the community such as: HIV/AIDS and VCT testing, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and Malaria. Of course I taught about malaria prevention, net care and repair and malaria treatment.

The event was a complete success. We reached 515 community members, 226 people were tested for HIV and over 250 nets were distributed.

Congrats Khalil on such an amazing event and thanks for letting me teach.

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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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World Malaria Day

The big day for me was April 26th. World Malaria Day (WMD) is actually on April 25th my event just happened to be on the 26th. And this is how it went. Early April I attended a 3 day training on Malaria *makes note to add Malaria expert to resume* and after the training I taught my students all I knew about Malaria. They then took that information and incorporated it into poems, songs, dramas, raps and narratives.

I wanted this day to be fun. I wanted people to leave educated without feeling like they’ve just sat in an all-day lecture. I let me students assume the role of teacher. It cancelled out the communication barrier that would have been present had I facilitated the entire training. Even minimal Kiswahili speakers were able to learn as some local language was included.

The day went well. I’m super appreciative that both the District Malaria Control Coordinator and the District Public Health Officer with their extremely busy schedules swung by little ol’ event. AND a principal from a neighboring school came to show his support.

Allow me to pause parenthetically to say MY STUDENTS WORKED THEIR BUTTS OFF. They came to school every day during their break. Teachers volunteered their time.  And it was this collaborative effort that made the day as good as it was.

Now what was not at the top of its game was my photography. My battery died. I was running around coordinating and accommodating and I just didn’t get the photos I wanted.  Sigh, I didn’t even take photos of our signs. But here’s what I got. Click on the panoramics to see them a little better.

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Note: A pastor that I love would always say “let me pause parenthetically…” a phrase I’ve been dying to use. I would normally run such a phrase by my BFF and personal grammar specialist Kenya D. Morris. If this was used completely incorrectly just give me a pass.

Oh there’s the Cervix

I have a weak stomach for the internal workings of the body. I cover my eyes for at least a quarter of every episode of House let alone real life. And yeah I am a Public Health Volunteer. Well a woman was kind enough to allow the nurse to walk me through her pap smear while she, the nurse, gave me a mini lesson on cervical cancer.

A new dispensary is opening in my community which will not only make a considerable difference for community members; the closest dispensary is about an hour walk and the primary reasons people opt to not visit health facilities is cost and distance. It will also give me more opportunities to have health lessons and help however I can.

Last week the dispensary offered free cervical cancer screening for the women and immunizations for the kids.

In gratitude for this once in a lifetime opportunity I stayed a while and played with some babies and made some cotton swabs.

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Life Skills: Decision Making

There’s something so special about asking a kid what they hope to be. A girl stood up and said she wanted to be a pilot…her dream…the way she said it…makes you want to do whatever you can to help her achieve it.

My 1st life skills class this term was on decision making. In the class we talked about the many decisions we make and the consequences that we sometimes fail to give proper weight, especially as kids. My goal for the class was to get the kids to connect the consequences of their decision with the hopes of their futures.

With a mix of dancing, dramas, and lecture I think…well I know…the kids left with something.

And what they don’t know is my plan to shape them to be master public speakers. There’s a horrible trend of a lack of eye contact and an almost inaudible volume especially when speaking publicly. Well, I refuse to accept that for my kids.DSC09112 DSC09113 DSC09128 DSC09135 DSC09143

World AIDS Day

My town, Funyula, hosted our district’s World AIDS Day program this past December 1st. I joined the planning committee with the Districts leaders in HIV prevention programming and care services of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

My Uncle Aaron passed away more than 10 years ago from AIDS. I distinctly remember the cabinet lined with pill bottles, his muscular frame dwindle to the average weight of a 16 year old girl then pick up again then dwindle again; it was an absolutely crazy thing to witness.

I was honored to work on this program…in his memory.

At the program there was a group who sang and danced comprised of PLWHA none of which you would ever assume on appearance alone. I visited the hospital and spoke to the pharmacist to ask what medication they were giving their patients. There were 3 potential therapies and when he showed me the 1st therapy option he pulled out 2 bottles. I would not be exaggerating if I said my uncle took at least 20 different medications in a day.

There have been incredible improvements made in treating this disease.

Don’t misunderstand me the HIV/AIDS rate in Kenya is insane. An average of 6% of people in Kenya is infected with an estimate of 60, 000-140,000 new infections per year. The statistics for fishermen and distant truck drivers are absolutely insane, from memory I want to say about 1:6 people in this population are infected.

There’s a long way to go to reach the goal of zero new infections by 2030. If the program’s success was any indication we are hopefully moving in that direction.