Submitted by Michaela Sholes
While I’ll be the first to acknowledge that training events are expensive and take a great deal of energy and effort, they are also hugely rewarding!
The second ETCHE training saw a total of 43 visitors attend, not including the 3 presenters, the AvTech girls, and our wonderful volunteers! Although we were a little disappointed that there were fewer community Queen Mothers present than at the first training, we were pleased to see that all 17 of the original communities as well as the 2 new communities were represented by their health volunteers or as in one case, a community-elected stand-in. It was wonderful to recognize familiar faces from the last training and put faces to names for the new communities.
In true Ghanaian fashion, we began roughly an hour later than expected, but the sessions themselves ran fairly smoothly. Audrey and Lydia facilitated a brilliant wound management session, with hands-down the most moving presentation as Lydia touched a personal chord with each individual as she shared with them the evident high cost of improper care for wounds. Prior to her talk, many in the audience had been unconvinced about the dangers of herbal treatments which Audrey had previously been discussing…but Lydia’s frank dialogue left no questions about the darker side of those herbs which are commonly used by many and the fact that her point hit home was clear. Afterward, Lydia employed the help of Mr. Kofi Wisdom (health rep from Asekesu Ada and dedicated teacher) to assist her in a demonstration of how to properly clean and dress a wound.
We were pleased to have with us Nurse Stella from GHS to help with the session on fracture management. She and Emmanuella did an excellent job discussing types of fractures, stabilization techniques, and evacuation options (i.e. backboards and local transportation). Nurse Stella provided a relevant frame of reference regarding locally available materials such as a clean headscarf in place of a splint-tie or sling. Manye Makutsu volunteered to help during the demonstration about how to stabilize a broken arm, getting more than a few chuckles out of the crowd with her exaggerated groans over her “injury”.
Juliet and I facilitated the last session regarding burn management and really enjoyed the discussion session with community members regarding their experiences with burns, prevention, and treatment. Mr. Prosper (the health volunteer from Akokoman Sisi) shared with the group about the time his wife had been holding their child while preparing the evening meal when she had accidentally spilled the pot all over herself and the child. Juliet did a great job walking the group through the way to cool and clean a burn as well as prevention behaviors.
We are so appreciative to Manye Esther, Manye Makutsu, and Manye Obukie for lending their support to the event and assisting with the coordination of catering for the trainees. Manye Makutsu provided translation for the first session as well as enthusiastic participation during the sessions. A big “Thank you” as well to the community members like Noah and Alexander who helped translate for us at different points of the day!
One of the things I enjoyed most about this particular training session was the ability to hold an evaluation-type of discussion with the group to gather feedback from them regarding successes and challenges they had experienced over the past 2 months of the program. Their honesty regarding what had or had not worked for them has really helped to frame our understanding of future directions, even when it means that on more than one occasion we’ve made mistakes. For example, although the SODIS demonstration was a huge hit at the last training, we came to understand that adoption among the communities was less than low…in fact, it hadn’t really been implemented at all. It’s not that individuals were opposed to it, but we realized afterwards that repeated demonstration and further explanation of the benefits would be needed to encourage adoption. On the flip side, communities reported not only widespread adoption of community sanitation practices and hand-washing, but also visible disease reduction in their homes!"