July 8, 2010
by Beth O'Connell
East Tennessee State University: College of Public Health
(Above: Child with Soap and Water -- Hand Washing Training)
Health Education Continues at School
Kiruhura Christian College has continued to allow me to educate all 112 of the students on various health topics. The week of June 21-25, I taught each class about dental health and provided them with toothbrushes and toothpaste. I got this idea from a student who asked me at the end of class one day if I could teach him how to “wash” his teeth. I also gave these supplies to the headmaster, secretary, matron (woman who cares for the girl boarding students), and two teachers who participated and assisted in the education. The handout used is in the appendix below. We discussed both why and how to brush. These students were also given information on tuberculosis, conjunctivitis, sexually transmitted infections, and malnutrition. Students will write papers about these topics and include how to prevent them. The students of the general paper classes have also been finishing up in-class presentations of the topics they wrote about previously and all of the students are interested in hearing about each of the topics. This oral presentation also helps evaluate how thoroughly each student understands their topic.
I taught the students of the biology class about malnutrition June 30 and July 1. In doing this, I stressed the importance of eating food from each category of food as described by the United States Department of Agriculture My Pyramid program. Malnutrition is a significant problem in this village and the people seem to have no understanding of eating a variety of foods, not just a large quantity. I hope that this education at the school will have a ripple effect into the community.
Continued Hand Washing and Water Treatment in Community
I am continuing to teach hand washing, hygiene, and safe water education in the village. This includes instruction on why and how to do these things and provision of soap and a water treating liquid for each family. I have continued to do this through visiting individual homes and also one group program. I have reached 192 families of Cyegera with this intervention, 1034 people. There are a total of 256 homes in the village of Cyegera, and I am going to try to reach each of them before I leave. In addition, I also visited a church in a neighboring town called Ruyenzi. The 58 people in attendance that day received the same education and supplies. That is a total of 1092 people educated on hand washing since the beginning of my field experience. If the people change their hygiene habits and drink safe water in the future, it will have a huge impact of the overall health of the community.
Biosand Water Filtration
On June 25, I worked with the Rwandese Health and Environment Initiative Project to reinstall one of the biosand filters. Water had not been flowing through it correctly. Replacement of the filtration media, including a better type of sand has fixed the problem. All five filters at the Faith and Hope Children’s Home and the school are working well with flow rates at the standard of 0.7 liters per minute. They began producing clean drinking water on July 4. Some of them which required maintenance will not produce drinkable water until later dates.
In continuing these two initiatives, I have continued to draw from reliable web sites for sources of information and on assistance from my preceptor, the children’s home administrator, members of the church, and members of the village leader’s staff. Visits to homes in the village have been very productive and are directed by the village leader and church members. Without them, I would have no way of knowing which homes are within the village limits and how to get to them. The administrator of the children’s home has been my translator for all home, church, and the public education sessions. I also continue to look for opportunities to expand my efforts.