July 8, 2010

Brittany Cannon
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
Roatan, Honduras

brittany cannon health fair 1brittany cannon health fair 2

For the past week I have been busy both in the community as well as in the clinic, conducting health fairs throughout various communities across the island.   As a result we been able to perform 215 blood sugar tests and blood pressure readings over a four week period.  Seven of the people screened were referred to Clinica Esperanza due to high blood sugar readings. There are a couple more communities that we are planning to go to within the next week or two.

The clinic has been very busy (as always) and for the past two weeks I have been working in triage. Triaging an adult involves taking the patient’s the weight, blood pressure, heart rate as well as documenting the chief complaint for the patients visit. Obviously triaging a child is a bit different and proves to be a little more difficult because it involves getting weight, height, heart rate, and head circumference (depending on the child’s age) as well as temperature from a typically very unhappy child. On average, we see around 35-40 patients per day  and referrals from the community health fairs conducted have been coming to the clinic. It is rewarding to see that the health fairs are beneficial in getting people to the clinic who would not otherwise come in;  I found it especially gratifying to have had the opportunity to triage one of the people I had referred to the clinic at one of the health fairs. I have really enjoyed the patient interaction and know that triage helps make the clinic flow a lot more smoothly as it helps the doctor prepare for the patient he or she is about to see.

In my last update I mentioned doing a nutrition education class at the clinic but have since changed my mind and thought it to be more beneficial to conduct classes regarding child health.  I have been in the process of planning early childhood developmental/preventative health classes in which I will discuss the importance of nutrition as well as other basic issues concerning the developmental stages of children.

A class on prenatal care is currently conducted every Wednesday at the clinic by a local nurse. However, through shadowing the pediatrician here and working in triage, I have come to realize that many women do not know what to do with their child after it is born. Many do not have basic knowledge regarding the stages of development of their children and are unaware of things a mother can do to enhance her child’s health. This will be the focus of my class and I will keep you all posted.

Again, thank you Hope through Healing Hands Foundation … together we are making a difference here in Roatan.

 

 

July 7, 2010

by Jodi Southerland
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
Appalachia Region

Jodi Southerland w mealsJodi Southerland w meals 2

Organization: Of One Accord Inc, a local grassroots non profit organization, which provides vital services to disadvantaged community members in Hawkins and Hancock County, TN.

Objectives: Provide supportive services to staff members, build lasting relationships with the community at large and ensure a brighter, more healthful tomorrow for local residents!

Background: Does poverty exist in a land of plenty? Do community members lack vital goods or services such as indoor plumbing, electricity, adequate nutrition and health services? To my dismay, I must answer ‘yes.’ Through my involvement with Of One Accord, interaction with community members and excursions into local communities on the rural roads less traveled, I have begun a journey which I hope will help me to understand more fully the roots of poverty and disadvantage in rural America

Activities: Over the past seven weeks, I have been conducting wellness assessments among community dwelling seniors served by the agency. The purpose is two-fold: 1) develop a client profile which includes demographic data and risk factors that lead to diminished quality of life and poorer health outcomes, and; 2) identify domains in which the agency’s services can be improved or tailored to meet the needs of this population. I also provide health supportive services, education and referrals to seniors through the information provided during the assessments and through my personal observations.

These interactions have led to the development of relationships with some amazing members of our communities, namely, the senior population. The stories of triumph and heartache, grit and tenacity, hard work and determination are too numerous to tell. There is one prominent theme that resounds as these senior residents reminisce and remember yester year: wisdom and the will to live are often developed through hardship and in the face of adversity.

I am also responsible for coordinating activities for our summer volunteer groups. These activities are focused primarily on our older community members and include home repair/renovation projects, house keeping, gardening, hair cuts/perms and visitations. These activities are very hands on and provide volunteer groups with an opportunity to utilize their expertise and skills and improve the lives of our senior residents in real and tangible ways. The agency’s Community Nutrition Program has benefited greatly from the services provided by our volunteer groups. Members assist with food preparation and delivery of both senior meals and youth lunches (Lunch Box Mobile Cafeteria). Volunteers accompany me as I deliver daily meals and a monthly food box to our community-dwelling seniors.

Reflection: A picture is worth a thousand words! But stories are priceless. Ms. M is a 69-year-old single woman. She has lived in Hawkins County for approximately thirty years but does not have any family members who live in the state. Five years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and her voice box was removed. She is unable to speak, smell or taste and is required to eat puréed foods. She communicated to me using a note pad. Ms. M is a very strong willed and vivacious woman but she told me that she is often lonely. The inability to speak has all but eliminated her ability to have quality social interaction with others. She does, however, attend community events and religious functions. She is not permitted to drive and depends on friends for transportation. In approximately 6 weeks, however, she will be able to speak for the first time in five years. She had a new medical device surgically implanted in her neck and is currently undergoing vocal rehabilitative therapy with a speech pathologist. Her story has been an inspiration to me. I have made several visits to her home and am always greeted with kindness and warmth. She has also been able to develop relationships with a few of our volunteers with whom she has exchanged mailing addresses.

What have I learned through my interaction with Ms. M and others like her? I have learned that making a positive impact in people’s lives is not as complicated as we may think. A little time, conversation and commitment can go a long way. People helping people, hand in hand along life’s journey! Impacting the world, one person at a time.

July 7, 2010

Building Wells and Writing Senators: Your Support=Lives Saved


Collaboration with charity: water and Living Waters for the World

We are proud to announce that we will be collaborating with charity:water to build three wells in three villages in three African nations: Ethiopia, Liberia, and Uganda. The wells will serve over 1,000 people. The digging of these wells will begin this fall, and we will update you with photos, blogs, and even GPS coordinates so you can follow the development and the life of the villages which will soon have an easier access to clean, safe water.

In the United States, we will be working with Living Waters for the World to install appropriate water treatment systems for families in the Appalachia region. It is estimated that several thousand families within Appalchia are without clean water, either due to lack of reliable water supplies or the fact that their water supply is contaminated. We will commit to ensuring that several of these families will soon have a safe, clean, and a reliable water source for their household needs.

Dear Senators...

Yesterday, we mailed out over 2,322 of YOUR signatures signed at the Brad Paisley H2O World Tour Concerts during May and June for our Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 petition to Senators in Virginia, Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan.

We asked Senators Carl Levin (D-MI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), George V. Voinovich (R-OH), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Jim Webb (D-VA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Evan Bayh (D-IN), and Richard G. Lugar (D-IN) to sign the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 as a co-sponsor to advance clean water and sanitation development activities. The Act would provide 100,000,000 people with first-time access to safe drinking water and sanitation on a sustainable basis by 2015 by improving the capacity of the United States Government to fully implement the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005.

At the same time, we said thank you to Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Christopher S. Bond (R-MO) for already co-sponsoring this important bill.

If you would like to call or write your Senator, click HERE to find his/her contact information.

Don't Forget to TEXT H2O to 25383...

If you haven't already, please consider TEXTING H20 to 25383 to donate $10 to go toward building wells in Africa and providing water purification systems in Appalachia. We need your support today. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and help us spread the word to raise support and save lives!

Thanks for your action and advocacy for a better, safer world,

JED signature 

Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

 

July 2, 2010

by Brittany Latimer
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
Namwianga, Zambia

    1.  Learn how to Knit

Most of the older ladies here know how to knit.  I wanted to learn how to knit so I could master this skill during my time here.  Luckily one of my aunts was kind enough to help me get started on this endeavor before I left.  After starting over twice, I am finally making progress and my scarf is coming along quite nicely.  Hopefully it’ll be finished by the time I come back. 

  1. Use your head

A lot of the women here transport their goods on their head.  This is the ultimate etiquette lesson.  The other day when John, Joseph, and I were coming back from Livingstone, we decided to walk the 7 km back to the house.  I had bought some things that were quite heavy so this was not the easiest walk.  After about 1 km, Joseph suggested that I carry the bag on my head.  This worked for about 5 minutes before I convinced them to take a cab. 

  1. Master tying a chitenge

A chitenge is a wrap that is worn around a woman’s waist.  They are also used to tie a baby onto the mother’s back.  Obviously since I don’t have any children I was using it for the former reason.  I am not a girly girl, so having to wear a skirt everyday has been quite difficult for me.  I would much rather wear jeans and a t-shirt, however it is very important to respect the culture.  So as they say, “when you’re in Rome do as the Romans do.”  It is very difficult to tie one unless you have some put onto the chitenge.  Unfortunately I found that out the hard way.  The first day I wore one without the ties, the chitenge constantly kept coming open.  The Zambian women can effortlessly tie them without any ties made and a baby on their back.  Maybe I can get some tips from the women and actually master this before I leave. 

  1. Learn Tonga

In the southern region where I am staying Tonga is the main language spoken.  Many people can speak multiple languages, especially since there are seventy-two languages spoken within the country of Zambia.  I can’t talk the talk, but apparently I can walk the walk.  I say this because I’ve already had a couple people come up to me speaking in Tonga, but all I could do was stare at them blankly.  So far I’ve mastered about five words in Tonga, so I have a very long way to go. 

      5.  Start a family

The majority of the people here get married quite young and start a family almost immediately.  Everyone will ask me questions in this exact order.  1) How many children do you have?  2) Are you married?  This nurse Freddie told me the timeline for getting a spouse, which ironically sounds just like the philosophy that most Lipscomb students follow.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is to get engaged by your senior year and married the summer after you graduate.  Well I’m just going to have to nix this step because I don’t plan on accomplishing this before I leave.    

Although I am rather far away from my goal of becoming a Zambian and have quite a lot of work to do in the time left here, I look forward to learning more about the Zambian culture.  I love being able to experience another culture from a first hand perspective.  It has been an amazing experience so far and I enjoy every day of it. 

June 29, 2010

John Deason
Lipscomb College of Pharmacy
Namwianga, Zambia
 

john deason dentist office

As time goes on I am getting more responsibilities in the clinic.  As of late, I have been working with a Zambian dentist named Ba Ian (Ba means Mr. or Mrs.).  He is a wonderfully kind and patient man that is very good at explaining his work.  A small skinny man in stature but hold tremendous respect with his patients; always keeping a smile on his facem, he whistles and tells his patients jokes to keep them at ease.  There is much you can take from his patient-provider interaction. 

He allowed me to assist him in his work, which sadly in Zambia is very simple.  If you have a tooth ache, 9 times out of 10 it a cavity (which gets marked down as chronic pulpitis), and a cavity equals extraction.  So needless to say, Ba Ian often refers to himself as a butcher since he mostly pulls teeth.  In helping him, I have actually pulled some as well.  He likes it if I have a rounded view of the job.  It’s actually no where near as difficult as it sounds (as apposed to the old cliché).  Teeth come out rather easily once you know how to pull; granted Ba Ian only gives me the “easy patients.” 

My chief job in his office is to write down the chief complaint with diagnosis as he goes around checking the patients in the room.  Generally he has four to five patients at a time and interacts with them all at once.  As you can guess privacy isn’t as big for everyone here as it is in the states.  Once he has diagnosed everyone, he gives them each a shot of local anesthetic (generally benzocaine or lidocaine) and has them all wait outside.  He calls them in one by one and does what needs to be done, then has them all wait together again as I collect the medicine they need post-op (which is simply and antibiotic and Panadol, what they call Tylenol).  The biggest reason for me collecting there meds (because they could simply walk to the pharmacy themselves) is that he wants to minimize their overall wait time so they can quickly get home without feeling so dizzy or sick.  Since I have instant access to the dispensary and know exactly what he needs, things go much faster and we can council the patients then and there and send them home knowing they got what they needed.

Besides the clinic, I was able to look in on a rare experience that few Americans get to see.  Sadly, the mother of Ba Leonard (the head cook, but also essentially main person in charge of the estate when the Hamby’s aren’t here) passed while we were here.  It wasn’t a complete shock since she was very old, but the parting was still difficult for the family.  Leonard’s son Harold took over in his stead for awhile.  He is doing a magnificent job.  There is no doubt that we are well fed.

We were invited to the funeral service the following Monday after her passing.  As with many things in Zambia, this service took a long portion of the day.  Throughout the entire time, both in the viewing of the body, traveling to the burial site, and finally laying her to rest, the Kasibi choir (whom I have mentioned in an earlier blog) stayed by her casket and sang church songs in Tonga.  Once the viewing had ended everyone packed into every car available and rode a long way down a rough dirt road to the grave site.  Once we got out (and stretched, since we where in the back of a ford ranger with 9 other Zambians) we walked through a grove of trees and say a large crowd already gathered there singing.  It was simply beautiful.  I’ve said before, everyone in this country was born able to sing and nothing could be more true.  All the men gathered on one side and the women on the other and they formed a large circle around the site.  Every song was in Tonga and in each a four part African harmony.  I’ll never hear the likes of such music again! 

Once the body was buried, which was a task in and of itself since concrete and tin had to be laid upon the casket to prevent any animals from digging anything up, they began speaking in turns.  There was a translator there for our benefit.  The most striking thing said was from one of the church elders.  As he spoke, he said, “Her spirit will not remain on earth as a ghost to haunt us as our grandfathers have taught us.  No, she will go to the place where all spirits go, and that is to heaven with Jesus!  Here at this time you have the choice to accept this or not; accept the truth or choose to believe your grandfathers!”  I was deeply moved at the display of the man’s faith and that here on the other side of the world, God’s people can still be found. 

Once everyone has spoken they began to call those in the family and others that were close family friends to come up and place flowers on the grave.  I was honored to have my named called with the rest of the Americans staying at the mission.  Once the flowers had been placed, a truck (lorry) pulled up carrying a good number of Zambians.  They instantly ran for the grave and began wailing and falling to the earth beating it with their fists.  Some in the crowd joined them.  I had never seen the likes but certainly wasn’t offended by the gesture.  Just as in all other things, it shows the outward expression of emotion that these people display.  I wish more people could be more like that.  It gives great peace of mind to see how someone is feeling so clearly.

After all the wailers stopped, a few personal effects of the deceased were placed amongst the flowers and we parted.  The rest of the day was rather somber.  I was exhausted emotionally along with everyone else and turned in early that night.  I was able to still take in the words the elder said which comforted me greatly.  

The more I see into the lives of these people, the more I find that I love them.  From the kind jokes to cheer a patient to the broken hearted cries in the middle of an African savannah, these people show you sincerely who they are and welcome you into their lives to share in their struggles and joys.  God has greatly touched me with this opportunity to know people so open and kind.  Again, as always, I pray I can do my best to play a role in His great works.

June 28, 2010

Jennifer Hunt
ASPIRE Appalachia scholar
College of Public Health - East Tennessee State University

hunt 2 health fair

Since the start of my internship, I have already experienced so much about health administration from a rural health perspective and have had the opportunity to be involved with some amazing projects that assist the county’s rural population.

My internship is located in Cocke County, Tennessee with Rural Medical Services, Inc (RMS).  RMS has clinical centers located in both Cocke and Jefferson County and serves the surrounding counties.  While the Appalachian region, which RMS serves, is rich in cultural heritage and traditions, it is also often plagued by high levels of poverty and low levels of education.  In April 2010, the Newport Micropolitan Area reported 2,190 people unemployed resulting in a 13.4% unemployment rate, down from the March unemployment rate of 15.7%. According to the most recent estimates from the State of Tennessee, Cocke County has an average high school graduation rate of 61.2%, under the state average of 75.9%; Cocke County also has only 6.2% of the population that holds a Bachelor’s degree or higher.  Cocke County has  a population o 7,426 of 20.6% of its population is below the poverty level.  

My first day at Rural Medical Services (RMS), I was able to attend the both the monthly staff meeting and the Board of Directors meeting.  The staff meeting included all providers from each of RMS’s five clinical centers, along with the CEO, CFO, Operations Director, and the Human Resources Director.  Although RMS is a health system, the clinics are run with an element of autonomy at each center (the CEO jokes that he calls each center his “little fiefdoms”).    In addition to clinical responsibilities, providers are charged with the administration of their clinics.  Reports were given from the Medical Director, the CEO, CFO, and Operations Director.  Following these reports, a roundtable type discussion was held that let each provider from each center discuss any topics with which they were concerned.  An interesting topic that was discussed at the meeting was the passage of the new health care reform bill.  The CEO, as well as other providers, voiced concerns about the impact to their patient population as a results of the bill’s passage.  RMS experienced decreases in patient population with the changes in TennCare, RMS  and is concerned about the effect this bill may have on their patients.   It was stressed that RMS must continue to strive to be patient friendly.

The Board of Directors consists of two representatives from the patient population from each center, the CEO, CFO, Human Resources Director, and the Operations Director.  The Board meeting is run similarly to the staff meeting, but in a more formal matter with a call to order, motions, quorum, etc.  At the first Board meeting, provider patient-visit goals were discussed as well as the bid process for remodeling the Newport Center. It was interesting to learn about the bid solicitation process RMS must go through in order to remodel a facility. 

Another interesting administrative aspect that I was able to participate in was the walk-through of the Chestnut Hill Center remodeling project.  The Chestnut Hill Center is located in Jefferson County, TN across from Bush Brothers, Inc.  In May 2010, Bush Brothers, Inc. bought the facility that housed both the RMS Corporate Office and the Chestnut Hill Center.  As part of this purchase, Bush Brothers offered to relocated the clinic to an old school house located approximately half a mile down the road from the current RMS facility.  Bush Brothers, Inc.  agreed to pay for renovation of the old school to convert it into a brand new health center facility for the patients of the Chestnut Hill.  The new center will contain 7 examination rooms, a nurse’s station, 3 doctor/provider offices and lounge, a clinical laboratory, patient waiting room, billing center, and a procedure room.  RMS will lease the building from Bush Brothers, and Bush Brothers (in addition to paying for the renovations) has forgiven the first year lease payments for the facility.  RMS and Bush Brothers has a long standing relationship in the community and Bush Brothers viewed this remodeling project as a way to give back to the residents of the Chestnut Hill community.

The second week of my internship included helping with the annual RMS Health Fair held at the Lincoln Ave Baptist Church in Newport, TN and La Gran Commision Baptist Church in Morristown, TN.  These health fairs bring a number of services to the community that they would not otherwise have access to such as lab work, physical exams, pap smears, prostate exams, mammograms, eye exams, bone density scans, spinal screenings, and hearing exams in addition to health resources from other area organizations.  All these services are provided free of cost to the community!  Although the fair didn’t start until 9am, many people were waiting in line as early as 6 am to make sure that they could be seen and it was apparent that many of these people relied on this health fair to receive their health care. 

My main project for the summer is to conduct both patient and employee satisfaction surveys.  The patient survey asks a variety of questions to determine the overall patient satisfaction with both their respective clinical center and the RMS system as a whole.  For example, one question asks patients to assess the level of satisfaction of the centers was “Please rate the treatment received at this facility.”  Patients completing the survey rate their level of satisfaction on a scale of one to five, with one being very satisfied and five being very dissatisfied.
           

I have been collecting the surveys periodically since the start of my internship, but the final collection date will be July 1, 2010.  I will record and analyze all the data and will present my findings to both RMS staff and the Board of Directors in a PowerPoint format.  I will also include an analysis of the rating percentages for each facility on a separate handout sheet.  The purpose of this survey is to help the community by showing RMS and the centers what the patient population perceives as most important and will in turn to use this input to identify and implement quality improvement initiatives.

The employee survey is set up in a similar manner, with the goal of the survey being to assess the employee satisfaction at RMS.  I will begin collecting and inputting this data during the week of June 27th, 2010 for a presentation to the staff and Board of Directors at their monthly meeting.  I think that this employee survey will be extremely beneficial to RMS because they have never done an employee survey and it will provide a good indication of the overall morale of the staff. I am anxious to see how my presentation of the survey results to the staff and Board of Directors will be accepted.  I hope the results will encourage staff and providers reevaluate reconsider how things are running administratively within their center.

June 22, 2010

Frist Global Health Leaders Arrive in Zambia


Two Lipscomb College of Pharmacy Students Send Their First Impressions of Namwalia, Zambia

Global Health Leaders Brittany Latimer and John Deason arrived in Zambia last week. This is Brittany's first time in Africa, and this is John's first time outside the United States. Though both are dealing with a touch of culture shock in Namwianga, Zambia, they report a warm welcome at the local church, a fun time with kids over food and dancing, and a challenge with the local clinic to understand how best they can translate their knowledge of clinical care given the limited resources available for the patients.

We invite you to read their blogs and see their photos!

Brittany Latimer
21 June 2010: Arriving in Zambia: Understanding Health Care Limitations in Namwianga

John Deason
21 June 2010: Sunday Morning Church and a First Look at the Clinic: John Deason in Zambia

Water=Hope Campaign at Darien Lake and Philadelphia: End of the First Leg of the Tour with Impressive Results!

Philly Vols 

Brande Jackson is keeping us up to speed with blogs and photos from each stop on the tour. We are excited to see the numbers of volunteers continue to increase as well as the new members and donations! We had our best night ever in Philly -- with wonderful volunteers, fans, and activists. Read the blog:

22 July 2010: Water=Hope at Darien Lake and Philly: Bringing the First Leg of Tour to a Close!

We need your donations. Donate today to Water=Hope Campaign. We will be using your dollars to build wells around the world, and we will be announcing which countries those wells in which those wells will be built in the next few days.

Follow the Water=Hope crew and volunteers on the road on our Facebook page.

Yours,

JED signature 

Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

June 23, 2010

by Brittany Cannon
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
Roatan, Honduras

This past week I was involved with the coordination and follow through of community health fairs on the island. These health fairs are vital for the public in that they enable us to reach out to those living on the island and perform various health screenings for people who do not understand the importance of and/or do not have the funds to get these health screenings on their own. 

Blood glucose tests and blood pressure readings are administered at the health fairs.  Diabetes and high blood pressure are prevalent on the island.  I was able to perform over 200 blood sugar tests and blood pressure readings last week.  In addition to testing I was also able to inform people who came to the fairs on the importance of monitoring their blood pressure and ways in which they can manage high blood pressure.  Likewise, I was able to educate those with high blood sugar about diabetes and ways to keep their blood sugar level in control.   If either test turned out to be extremely high I referred them to Clinica Esperanza where I am currently working so they can be more thoroughly examined and when appropriate receive further care or medication.  At Clinica Experanza, no one is turned down due to their inability to pay so if they can get transportation (another barrier) they will be seen by a doctor at the clinic. 

Health screenings are an important component of public health.  By planning and implementing these health fairs I am able to reach a number of communities and interact with people that are far from the clinic and might not otherwise seek out these sorts of tests or even know the significance of such tests.

Many of the people I spoke with did not understand what diabetes is much less how to control it. This is a real problem on the island because much of the diet consists of fruits and non-complex carbohydrate (white flour) products which are known to contribute to spikes in blood sugar levels.

 I am organizing and will conduct three more health fairs this week and have also put together a program on nutrition. I will be conducting this class at the clinic to inform people on the importance of making health conscious food choices.  For example, soda (soft drink) consumption is huge here so hopefully through this class I can help people understand how what they put in their body relates to their health.

 

June 22, 2010

by Brande Jackson

Our show at Darien Lake - located between Buffalo and Rochester - had us a little concerned about being able to recruit volunteers, since it is a bit of a drive from either city. We were excited to have a great crew of volunteers come out and join us: a mother, daughter & aunt team of Susan, Carol and Melissa, as well as Corey, Chelsea, Cary and Lyndsey, who are a combination of friends, sisters and fiances that all drove into from Rochester!  Our team did great, helping us sign up lots of new supporters and raising lots of money for our well building projects, working all night to talk to Brad fans about the importance of clean water.

Darien Lake Vols

We got a lot of support from the crowd from the minute the doors opened until the very last fans left the venue; Nick and Francis, pictured below, kept talking to us long after security ushered everyone out and loaded up on Water = Hope materials to help spread the word among their friends in Buffalo.

Nick and Francis_darien lake

An overnight bus trip brought us into Philly in the morning. On a personal note, I’ll admit to some bias: I love doing shows in Philadelphia, I’ve always gotten a lot of support for the campaigns I’ve worked from the fans there, and everyone seems to be in a perpetually good mood! Our show Saturday night lived up to my expectations, giving us the biggest night we have had yet on the tour.

Our night in Philly was a direct result of an AMAZING volunteer crew that we can’t thank enough: Bill and Brianna are high school students and friends who worked so hard all night that it felt like we barely saw them, LeeAnn is a huge Brad Paisley fan and supporter of water initiatives like this, and was a huge help at our busy booth, Neil and Yang are cousins; Neil is an exchange student from China and Yang took a train up from Washington DC just to join us and help out!

Philly Vols

Then we had ‘the girls’: Angelina and Danielle are old friends who frequently volunteer together, and Sara, Angelique, Samantha and Rebecca are all friends and in high school. Both groups of ladies took to the parking lots to talk to the tailgating crowd before the doors opened, and they took on our ‘friendly challenge’ of which volunteer could sign up the most volunteers with a passion. Early on, it looked like Angelina and Danielle would take home the Water = Hope hoodie prize (together, the two of them signed up well over 300 new supporters!) but the sister team of Sara and Angelique edged them out; they signed up 200 new supporters EACH, a record for the tour! 

The crowd in Philly was full of love for Water = Hope; fans are really excited about our well building project, loving the idea of country fans working together to bring water to a community that needs it. We had our biggest night yet both in new Water = Hope supporters and in the money we were able to raise for the wells, and we also signed up lots of new Philly volunteers to join our incredible team of campaigners!

In the meantime, there are all sorts of ways to support Water = Hope: text H2O to 25383 to give $10, and you can sign up and a part of one our amazing volunteer teams by http://waterequalshope.com/volunteer/. You can also check out more photos from the tour (and tag yourself if you are in them!) on our Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/hopethroughhealinghands.

June 21, 2010

by Beth O'Connell
East Tennessee State University
College of Public Health
Cygera, Rwanda

beth_rwanda photo_family

Health Education            

Health education has been quite a success at the local high school. The Senior 3 class was very interested in and had many questions about the previous HIV/AIDS education. I based the next class on their questions. The following week I chose malaria as the topic because of its prevalence in the area. The students were misinformed about transmission of malaria. They thought that it was transmitted through unsafe drinking water, as so many of the other common diseases. I think that this may have been a communication error in previous education about removing stagnant water which breeds mosquitoes.  I continued health education in the general paper (essay) classes which I mentioned in my last update.   Students have turned in the required information on their selected health topics. The topics they could choose from were as follows: malaria, food contamination, safe water, community safety, and HIV/AIDS .  The students’ personal experience stories are educational for me and very eye-opening to the severity of these community health problems. The quality of their work varies widely. Ensuring that each student learns has involved individual study sessions after school hours. The students know where I am staying and come to visit me for help, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes by my request. I am in the process of grading the papers and discussing the topics with them. It has been helpful to the students to spend so much time discussing major health concerns in their community. This education has served a total of 112 students. Teachers also learn and ask questions.

Hand Washing and Water Treatment

My hand washing campaign has transitioned from group audiences at the school and church to individual homes in the village.  Each home visit has involved education through a translator and giving of written instructions in the local language and providing soap. I have also been providing each home I visit with a water treatment liquid produced by U.S. Aid. This treatment kills many of the biological contaminants in the local water. Some people are familiar with the product and its use, but are unable to afford it; others have not seen the product before.  I have provided an amount which should treat drinking water for an average family for one month.  This is only an estimate, because the bottle does not say how much water it will treat.  The instructions only say how much to use one cap-full for twenty liters of water.  Also, family sizes vary largely.   The education at each home includes information about boiling water as a method of killing contaminants.   They do not have a word for boiling, so I have explained that they must cook it until bubbles cover the surface for several minutes. This outreach into the community required the permission of the village elder, Anastasie Mukabashanana. We met and discussed my plan, after which she gave her blessing for the home visits. I then began the campaign with the village leader, giving her the items and education. She or one of her aids has been accompanying me on the home visits. The people in the village have been very receptive and thankful and this has been a rewarding experience.  A day of visits involve several hours of hiking at a time in significant heat; the terrain is hilly and the footpaths are rough.  The living conditions and lack of education are staggering and these visits have been incredibly educational for me.  We have visited 72 homes, which housed 332 people.   The local church congregation was also given this water treatment product.  There were 115 participants at the church, many of whom will share the liquid with families at home. This is a total of 554 participants in the safe water education. There have been a total of 706 participants in hand washing education to date. The difference in the two numbers is 112 high school students.  They are benefiting from bio-sand filters, and therefore were not given the water treatment liquid.

Bio-sand Water Filtration

Following up on the bio-sand filter installation project, I have overseen the “feeding “ of the bio-layers daily.  The Rwandese Health and Environment Project Initiative (RHEPI) that originally installed the filters has been helpful in continued maintenance. On Tuesday June 8, a RHEPI representative returned at my request to investigate slow flow rates of four of the filters. Other minor maintenance has been required, which I have performed with guidance from RHEPI.   Four of the filters are currently working well, with flow rates of about 0.7 liters per minute.  RHEPI will be returning soon to replace the sand in the one that is still flowing poorly.  After I leave, the school secretary has promised to maintain the two located at the school. The administrator at the children’s home will maintain the three there. The major maintenance is required during the initial setup, and further maintenance should be as simple as using the filters daily. Should there be problems, the school and children’s home have my contact information and the contact information of RHEPI.  On Friday, June 18, I travelled to Kigali to visit the RHEPI office to investigate options for future projects through partnership with them.

Malaria Prevention

I continue to work toward protecting the children and caretakers of the Faith and Hope Children’s Home from the hazards associated with mosquitoes and other insects.  I again sprayed the homes again with insecticide one month following the initial treatment as recommended by the manufacturer.  Also, I paid for and arranged the replacement of two broken windows to avoid insect entry into the homes. Communicating with a technician for such a project to specify exactly what needs to be done and how much it will cost can take several hours. I will spray the homes again in one month and have instructed the home administrator about using the insecticide after I leave. Also, to make the screening over the windows more permanent, I have hired a local technician to put wooden frames around the screening. Spiders have become more prominent with the change of seasons, so the efforts to avoid mosquitoes have also been useful in avoiding the spiders.

Conclusion

In doing all this, I have educated myself as well. The interventions and education that I have done in the last two weeks have been predominantly beyond what I have learned in classes at the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University. I have used my skills on how to find information, which I learned in various classes while doing papers and projects. The World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention websites have been excellent resources for lesson plans at the school. I just happened to notice the water treatment liquid at a store one day and then looked into it. Communication has continued to be a necessary and difficult skill to use. This includes communication with the people I am educating with community gatekeepers and people all helping me.  I have learned that attitude and creativity is very important in accomplishing a task.  Many times, it has been up to me to come up with ideas and find a way to make them happen.  Motivational skills and a positive attitude have been necessary to do this.

My field experience has been very busy and successful so far. I look forward to seeing the results of some of the interventions that will produce tangible results soon. For example, the bio-sand filters will be producing drinkable water beginning July 4. I also look forward to continuing health education at the school. Despite challenges, this experience has been very educational and rewarding. I am excited to see what the rest of the internship holds in store for me and for the village of Cyegera

 

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