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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The First ETCHE training report

Submitted by Michaela Sholes

Yesterday was a turning point for Medicine on the Move. Quite simply, experiences like yesterday’s training with the community members are why I returned to Ghana. Until this point, so much has been in preparation…preparation for our move to Ghana, preparation for the authorizations to line up, for the drops to start, to organize this training…at times, it feels overwhelming. But then, just when I think I have not an energized brain cell left to give…I find myself being given, through events like yesterdays, the most beautiful and humbling gift. The honor of being able to have had a part in helping that training happen, of getting to be a part of a movement for self-empowerment within the communities and getting to see first-hand their excitement and hope at that thought…is why I came back, and why I am proud to be a part of the efforts here at MoM.

One of my favorite parts about the training occurred after the AvTech girls and I had finished doing a demonstration and song about proper hand-washing. Everyone in the group was standing up, as they had all been participating in our song and motions. Having noticed that some members weren’t jazzed about singing a “kids song”, I had encouraged the group to include the children in their communities through songs in order to tap into the children’s natural learning mechanisms. Just as I finished emphasizing the way children will hear a song and never stop repeating it, a neighborhood child (who had obviously been listening outside) skipped by the building singing parts of the song we had just practiced!

Another favorite part of the day came during the Diarrhea section, as we discussed the far-reaching effects of community sanitation. Each member of the group was asked to think back on their day since they awoke and see if they could remember all the things they had touched. They were then asked how many of those things were items or places that other people also touched, like door handles, transportation van doors, etc… We then asked if they could guarantee that every person coming before them had washed their hands properly. Combined with a few stick-figure drawings to emphasize the point, the concept achieved its goal of helping them realize that small actions can have long-term good or bad effects. It was rather amusing to see many of their expressions when they thought about the role of flies and other Diarrhea carriers!

The AvTech girls did SUCH a lovely job during their demonstration for the SODIS method of water disinfection! Each of the girls discussed a particular section of the demonstration as they all pitched in to model the method. The group was so interested in what they were doing that they asked the girls to stand on the highest point of the podium area so that no one would miss anything! Juliet was wonderful at introducing the topic and guiding the overall demonstration, while Emmanuella did a fantastic job describing where and how to place the bottles and Lydia explained very well the concept of cleaning the bottles and looking for the PET symbol.

Yesterday was not without its glitches and unexpected, but the positives by far outweighed the negatives. We had 100% attendance from the communities, including all three new communities from last week! It was such a privilege and moving experience for me to have the opportunity to meet in-person the individuals who I’d been working with over the phone during the last few weeks. We have learned so much already about how to improve future sessions from feedback with the communities, and I look forward to continuing to seek ways to meet their health education needs in the best means possible.

We are so incredibly thankful for everyone who helped make our first training such a success! Manye Esther did an amazing job mobilizing individuals from her networks to provide refreshments and a delicious lunch for the community members! Thank you as well to Audrey whose energy and support is indispensable to MoM, both in the Fulani camp and everywhere! To all the MOMMERS who were sending us good thoughts and vibes, we felt your encouragement and did our best to pass it on to others! There are a great many additional people whose efforts made yesterday possible through all kinds of support and the MoM team would just like to say a big “Thank you” (in English), “Medaase” (in Twi), “Akpe” (in Ewe), and “Muchum kaa!” (in Krobo).

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