June 17, 2010

by Katie Skelton
East Tennessee State University
College of Public Health

All is going well here in Urubamba, Peru where my day begins at 4:45 am each morning. I wake up, get dressed, grab a quick bite to eat and head to the local bus station to catch an early bus to the local villages. By the time I arrive in the communities, it is 6:30 am. It is imperative for us to arrive in the villages as early as possible as the village families work in the fields in the morning so we must arrive before they set out for their daily routines.

For the past few weeks we have gone house-to-house to gather as much information as possible from the local communities. The purpose of our survey has been to determine the main health problems in the area. Our surveys are now complete and after many grueling mornings, the results have been analyzed. The problems are vast: nutrition, diarrhea, intense cough, lack of health education, and more. We have determined that the most pressing issue in the area surrounds none-other-than water in terms of both availability and quality.

The Sacred Valley is affected by water in every imaginable way. It impacts every area of their lives from health to their daily activities and jobs. Sadly water here is rationed and is turned off at different times of the day for various parts of Urubamba. I personally have experienced the effects of the lack of water; there have been stretches of days when I have been unable to bathe because water has not been provided to my home. As you might expect, I am unable to drink the water or eat anything that has been washed with it. Regrettably a number of my co-workers have become sick due to infections from drinking the water.

Although life here in Urubamba is impacted by water, the effects in communities fifteen minutes away are even more devastating. The majority of these families rely upon agriculture for their sustenance. Without water their crops will not flourish, they cannot give water to their animals, nor can they cook, clean, or do normal daily activities.

To obtain clean water these families must purchase water from a truck that makes trips to the area and of course, this is not enough water for all of the families. Aside from the shortage, this water is expense and families must also carry the water home.

From our surveys, we pinpointed many of the recurring health issues of the approximately 180 families in our target communities. Many of their problems are related to fecal-oral contamination, giardia, and other parasitic infections. People are treated for their illnesses but quickly experience re-infection as a result of drinking dirty water. To help solve many of these issues, I am currently working on a proposal to provide water filters to each of the families in our target population. These filters will allow families to have clean water free of parasitic infections. Through focusing on water we are hopeful we can help improve the health status and quality of life for the residents of the Sacred Valley communities.

 

June 15, 2010

by Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.

frist at global health gathering 6.14

Last night, Hope Through Healing Hands hosted a meeting for local, Tennessee global health nonprofit institutions, universities such as East Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, and Lipscomb University, and faith communities to gather for an authentic sharing of stories, interest, and work.

Senator Bill Frist, M.D. keynoted the event, discussing the unique city of Nashville, as a hub for health care, music, and faith, and how these 50 organizations might intersect especially with the faith communities given a shared global interest in caring for the widow, protecting the orphan, and over all – loving our neighbors – even if across oceans.

Jars of Clay, an amazing group of men who have been longtime activists in the movement against the HIV/AIDS pandemic, shared the stage with Senator Frist. They sang an apropos song for the evening, Two Hands. Dan Haseltine, the lead singer, spoke eloquently about his longtime vision of a unified front of global health advocates in Tennessee who might work together, hand in hand, to face the issues of global proportion. Their experiences and work have led them to found Blood:Water Mission, a Nashville-based nonprofit focused on building wells in Africa. In terms of raising awareness and advocacy in the United States, together we are stronger.

The goal of the evening was to allow a space for the coalition representatives to genuinely get to know their fellow colleagues better. Hope Through Healing Hands’ hosted small group sessions for a sharing of goals, missions, and work as a beginning for deeper relationships beyond the meeting. We want to encourage a robust network of friendships and partnerships among the global health community, especially for those times of global crisis and emergency relief.  

We wish to offer a special thanks to Brentwood Baptist Church for kindly offering us a facility, gratis, to host the event. We look forward to the inclusion of more faith communities and their involvement in the global health coalition in the future.

jars of clay 6.14global health gathering small group 

June 14, 2010

by Brande Jackson

We were greeted by enthusiastic fans and volunteers in Detroit, which made for a great night! We talked to lots of people, including several who were interested in volunteering and becoming involved with the campaign on a local level and on their campuses, something we always like to hear.

Our volunteers consisted of two ‘teams’ of people: Stephanie and Nicole, sisters on their summer break (from college and high school) and our team of enthusiastic high school girls: Erica, Emmy, Betsy and Marissa. Our crew did a great job, talking to lots of people and getting them excited about bringing clean water to people around the world. We were a bit limited in what we could do in Detroit due to the way the venue was set up, but our volunteer crew were true troopers, making the most of it and getting a record number of fans to take part in our text message fundraising campaign.

We loaded up our stuff and got on the tour bus bound for Pittsburgh the next day. Saturday morning we were greeted by the tour crew worried about thunderstorms that never actually materialized (we seemed to be blessed by the weather fairies this tour, knock on wood!) so we set up somewhat concerned, but forged ahead. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any volunteers joining us that night (Pittsburgh - we need some people, sign up and join! www.waterequalshope.com/volunteer) but we made the most of it, signing up lots of new supporters and raising money to bring a needing community a well. Fans are really excited about this idea, really responding to the notion of the Paisley & country music fan base being able to create clean water for those that need it through the combined small actions of many over the course of the tour. While walking the lawn before the show, I talked to lots and lots of people who were really excited about what Water = Hope is doing, so we are eager to get community efforts moving in Pittsburgh as well!

After loading out once Brad was finished Saturday night, we were surprised to find Josh Thompson and some of his band setting up for an impromptu midnight bluegrass session next to our bus! Josh is a big supporter of Water = Hope, not only taking part in our PSA but always ‘re-tweeting’ our Twitter posts and helping to spread the word on Facebook, and he’s a great musician and all around nice guy. It was a great way to end a wonderful weekend!

We’ll be back out again this weekend before we take a break while the tour goes to Europe. We will be in Darien Center (Buffalo and Rochester regions of NY) and Philly on Friday and Saturday  - as always, we’d love to have you sign up and volunteer!

 

5 New Frist Global Health Leaders: Summer '10

Honduras, Peru, Rwanda, and the Appalachia Region

We are excited to report that 5 new Frist Global Health Leaders have traveled this summer and are beginning to report back their great work from around the globe. This includes public health education for hand washing, dental hygiene, HIV/AIDS prevention, and clean water.

Three students from ETSU College of Public Health are currently in foreign countries, and two students from ETSU College of Public Health are at home, in the United States, Appalachia Region.

We invite you to learn more about them in our NEW Frist Global Health Leaders Program section on our website. We have included photos, biographies, and links to their current blogs we are posting daily. Simply go to the continent where they are located and  click on their country. You can learn a little bit about the country they are in as well!

We will have 2 more Frist Global Health Leaders from Lipscomb University leave within the month for Zambia. Stay tuned.  

Here are some sample blogs from students around the world:

Donate Today: We would be honored if you would consider donating to our Frist Global Health Leaders Fund today. Consider a contribution to fund students, residents, and fellows to practice health diplomacy in underserved communities around the world.

Thanks for your support,

JED signature 

Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D.
Executive Director

June 8, 2010

by Brande Jackson

Cincinnati Water=Hope vol crew 

Photo: The Cincinnati Volunteer Crew!

Toledo proved to be a small but mighty show; though at one of the smaller venues on the tour, fans came out in force to support Water = Hope! We signed up hundreds of new supporters while also collecting donations for our very popular Water = Hope tee-shirts (you can soon buy them online as well - watch for updates!). We also got nice mentions in the local press, the Toledo Blade, and we were even featured on a local country radio station as well. 

After the show friday night, we headed out on the tour buses bound for Indianapolis, our Saturday show. Cloudy skies hung around all day in Indy, threatening to open up, but we set up our booth and moved forward with fingers crossed. We were joined by a great volunteer crew; Lea, Justin, Matt, Kayla and Chelsea all work together and came to the show together. It was one of their first volunteer experiences, and they did great, signing up lots of people AND getting a chance to meet and talk to Josh Thompson, one of the artists performing on the tour. 

Cincinnati turned out to be the best night we’ve had on the tour yet. Our amazing volunteer crew helped us sign up close to 800 new supporters for Water = Hope! Aaron, Andrea and Kaitlyn are all high school students, Michael and Ashlynn are college students, Karen and her husband David are local Cincinnati residents, and Gayenell brought her entire family to volunteer! The team did an incredible job, even engaging in some friendly competition (for a prized Water = Hope hoodie!)  to see who could sign up the most supporters; we were very amused of their ‘tracking method’ which involved marking off completed sheets on their arms! Ashlynn proved to be the final winner of the night, signing up an amazing 160 new Water = Hope supporters, though Michael was a close second with 135. All of our volunteers worked incredibly hard to make our evening in Cincinnati a huge success. 

Talking to the fans each night is always inspiring; the Paisley and country music community is eager to lend their voice and to invest in clean water initiatives. One of our favorite groups of people were the ladies of the “Waters of Dillsboro Retirment Home”; they all work together at the retirement community outside of Cincinnati and were super excited about the Water = Hope campaign, insisting several times that we promise to email them about volunteer opportunities they can do as a group! 

This week we’ll be in Detroit and Pittsburgh and are looking forward to talking to fans there. We already have some great volunteers signed up for those shows that we can’t wait to meet, but we do still have room for more volunteers to join us, visit our volunteer page to learn more: http://www.waterequalshope.com/volunteer/

 

June 7, 2010

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

brittany cannon 3

Since my last report I wrapped up the dental health screening data collection and educational project because I simply ran out toothbrushes.   By the end of this process 508 children were educated on the importance of dental health and 600 toothbrushes were given out.  I have compiled my findings and the results are significant and should validate the request for funding continuation of this program. The local dentist’s hope is to receive funding to make it possible for him to put sealants on the children’s six year molar so they will be less likely to decay, which in turn, would prevent the extraction of this adult tooth. I will now be assisting him with the grant writing process.   Hopefully, future screenings will reveal a positive change in the dental health of the children of Roatan.

My next project involves HIV/AIDS education and I will be traveling throughout the island with doctors who are doing HIV/AIDS screenings and I will be involved in the educational aspect of these programs.  There is barely a basic knowledge of the disease or how it is spread and a huge stigma surrounds those with the disease. The people of Roatan place considerable importance on family and community. However, if a family member has HIV/AIDS and the family finds out about it,  that member is banished from the household and the family unit. Because of fear of losing one’s family, many people do not get screened for HIV/AIDS leading the doctors I am working with to believe the prevalence of HIV/AIDS on the island is much higher than is evident.  Also, commercial sex is quite a problem here which contributes to an even bigger HIV/AIDS issue.  It is my hope that through this education program we can reduce the prevalence of HIV/AIDS on the island and also mitigate the stigma that surrounds those with this disease.

Once again, I want to thank the Hope Through Healing Hands Foundation and the Niswonger Foundation; this is truly an experience of a lifetime.

June 7, 2010

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

Beth Oconnell 1

Hand Washing and Community Health Education

The hand washing campaign has continued with 78 high school students participating.

I was given a very challenging task of educating high school students at the local Kiruhura Christian College on health topics. This proved to be a challenge because of the language barrier and lack of resources- the students had no text books and there is a very limited supply of pens, paper, and chalk.   Nonetheless, the task was accomplished successfully and  I was asked to teach during Biology for the Senior 3, Senior 4A, Senior 4B, and Senior 5 classes.   In these classes students range in age from 15 to 38 years of age.   Biology class meets for two hours per week, one hour on Tuesdays, and one on Wednesdays. I chose to teach the Germ Theory of Disease with hand washing during the first two classes.  To evaluate understanding and effectiveness, they took a quiz whereby six of the eight students scored perfectly, and two answered three out of five questions correctly.   I believe that the students understood the topic well and their incorrect answers were due to language barrier.  

The second week, I taught the same students about HIV/AIDS. This discussion included general information including how HIV is transmitted  and ways to prevent transmission.

Because of attending an organizational meeting in Kigali on June 2, I have not given the HIV quiz yet. I plan to do so during next week’s class. I was pleased that the students asked many questions and I plan to continue teaching about HIV/ AIDS next week.  Handouts and quizzes were kept simple due to language and cultural barriers.   Also, printing resources are limited so materials were limited to one page or less.  

For the General Paper classes, I asked each student to choose from a list of health concerns in the community, or to propose a health related topic of their own.   The list provided included Malaria; HIV/AIDS; hand washing and hygiene; clean water; food contamination, and community safety. They were to include definition of the problem, causes of the problem, importance, how to prevent the problem, and any personal experience they have had with the problem.   These classes meet for two hours per week, but it is common in Rwanda for students to be absent frequently.   I left materials with the teacher of each class to give to absent students. These students were required to take quizzes and turn in assignments the following class.

Despite these challenges, I  anticipate excellent results from these classes.  These students are the future of Rwanda  and educating them on health will improve the health of the community for years to come.  I also expect a ripple effect as the student share their knowledge with their family and friends outside of school. I have no means of assessing this ripple effect, only the assessments of the individual student’s knowledge after each education session. These assessments are the quizzes given in the biology class and the essays written in the general paper class. I plan to continue teaching on health topics in the school.

Bio-sand Water Filtration

On June 4, the Rwandese Health and Environment Project Initiative (RHEPI), installed five bio-sand water filters and educated those who would be using it on proper use. At the advice of RHEPI representative James Rubakisibo, three filters were installed at the Faith and Hope Children’s Home, one at the girls boarding quarters at the Kiruhura Christian College, and one in the school cafeteria. 

There are currently thirty girls and no boys at the school’s boarding quarters.    I am happy to report that all the students will now be able to drink clean water at lunch due to these filter systems.  Installation of these filters is the product of my research, contacting filter providers and on-going communication since December 2009.  This began with researching types of filters with  Bio-sand filters removing 95-99% of bacterial, viral, and protozoan contaminants. If you are interested,  you can learn more at http://www.biosandfilter.org/biosandfilter/index.php/item/301.

While bio-sand filtration is not very effective in removing chemical contaminants, the primary concern in the community of Cyegera is microbes.  Bio-sand filters are very simple to use and require little maintenance and for these reasons seemed the best choice for this community.  I then began contacting organizations that build bio-sand filters; CAWST of Canada responded to my request for information with clarification to determine if bio-sand filters were truly the best option for Cyegera.

Once they were satisfied, they referred me to RHEPI and  James Rubakisibo. James and I discussed pricing, when the filters would be available for the instillation, education, and other details of a contract.

The filters require one month of daily feeding before the bio-layer is completely functioning. RHEPI provided education about bio-sand filters prior to installation to those who would use them.  Staff of both the school and children’s home assisted in the installation so that they have an understanding of how the filters function.  Unsafe water has been a serious problem in this area, and I look forward to seeing a reduction in water-related illness at the school and children’s home.

Other  activities

In addition to the health education and water filtration, I have been busy with community and organizational events.   As mentioned, I went with the site administrator, to a meeting in Kigali. The meeting was a strategy and information-sharing meeting among administrators of various sites. I also participated in a government mandated community work day.  These work days occur the last Saturday of every month. This work day was spent breaking ground for an additional building at the local school. 

Metrics     

I have reached 259 participants in my hand washing education campaign; my original goal was 300 participants so I am well on my way to meeting this objective.  I met my objective concerning environmental analysis and interventions during the first week and described in my May 25 report. I have also educated a total of 112 students on several of the major health concerns of the community.

I have met the objective of installing five bio-sand water filters and will continue to look for opportunities to expand these objectives as most have already been achived.  

Please view the chart below for a  summary of the work the Hope Through Healing Hands Foundation and the Niswonger Foundation are helping make possible in Rwanda.

 

Date

 

Intervention/ Education

 

 

# of participants or people affected 

May 25-26

 

 

Germ Theory Education

 

 (

 

 

 

May 26

 

 

Hand washing

 

 

8

 

 

May 26

 

 

Topics of Concern in Community Health

 

 

34

 

 

May 27

 

 

Topics of Concern in Community Health

 

 

36

 

 

May 29

 

 

Community work day

 

 

n/a

 

 

May 30

 

 

Prenatal vitamin education

 

 

2

 

 

May 31

 

 

Topics of Concern in Community Health

 

 

34

 

 

May 31

 

 

Hand washing education

 

(class S4A)

 

 

 

34

 

 

June 1

 

 

HIV/AIDS Education

 

 

8

 

 

June 2

 

 

Organizational meeting

 

 

n/a

 

 

June 3

 

 

Hand washing education

 

(class S5)

 

 

 

36

 

 

June 4

 

 

Bio-sand Water Filter Installation and Education (Children’s Home)

 

 

29

 

 

June 4

 

 

Bio-sand Education (Girl Boarding Students)

 

 

30

 

 

June 4

 

 

Bio-sand Water Filter Installation and Education (School Cafeteria)

 

 

112

 

 

June 7

 

 

Topics of Concern in Community Health

 

 

34

 

 

Daily since June 4

 

 

Bio-sand Water Filter Feeding

 

 

59

 

 

Daily since May 19

 

 

Meal logs for future analysis

 

 

26

 

 

 

June 7, 2010

Politico

by Tom Daschle and Bill Frist

It is staggering to consider the myriad changes since we each entered Congress. Things like cell phones and the Internet were straight out of a science-fiction movie then. Now, our grandchildren are so technologically connected by Facebook and MySpace that a schoolchild in Rwanda can check in with a pen pal in South Dakota or Tennessee in seconds.

Life’s frenetic pace and growing global interdependence have had a profound impact on the way America must engage with the world.

Our greatest threats are no longer from another country, as was the case during the Cold War. Today, they are as likely to come from infectious diseases, failed states, economic despair, nonstate actors and terrorism — issues that cannot be addressed through military might alone.

This requires a new approach, drawing on a renewed commitment to development and diplomacy — as well as our military strength.

America’s military is still the world’s finest, but it must be matched by equally agile and robust diplomatic arms if we are to remain safe and secure.

We agree with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who said about the war on terror: “We cannot kill or capture our way to victory.” Smart development investment translates to fewer U.S. boots on the ground.

What we must do is use our full complement of powers — defense, development and diplomacy — to help troubled nations build stable governments and address the needs of their people; not just for food, water and shelter but also for health, education and the opportunity to learn marketable skills.

To do this, we have to invest in our future by bolstering the nation’s international affairs budget. This is something the two of us — and Democrats and Republicans as a whole — agree on.

As the military does its job in stabilizing troubled states, vigorous humanitarian and diplomacy efforts can ensure that we build a lasting peace by strengthening communities and governments, reinforcing the foundations for growth and opportunity and neutralizing those who wish our country harm.

Our foreign assistance dollars pay strong dividends economically, as well. Americans’ security and prosperity are tied to the security and prosperity of people around the globe. In the past 40 years, trade has tripled and U.S. exports account for approximately one out of every five American jobs. 

Today, developing countries represent 40 percent of U.S. exports. Programs supported by the international affairs budget increase economic opportunities, promote our business interests around the world and create U.S. jobs through increased exports.

While helping the world’s poor brings the United States national security and economic benefits, it also demonstrates our commitment to alleviating poverty. Both of us have traveled many times to developing nations — not just as elected officials but also in our personal capacities to work with international charities and deliver humanitarian aid.

We know the value of American generosity and have witnessed the remarkable difference public and private aid can make in people’s lives.

Whether it’s a Peace Corps volunteer introducing a local farmer to a new crop that is more nutritious and marketable, or a women’s group receiving a small loan to start a basket-weaving business to provide for their families, America spreads a message to the people of the world that we are a valuable partner — and friend. Aid works. And it works best by putting tools in the hands of others to build their own better tomorrow.

Republicans and Democrats have long worked together to make a difference in the world through humanitarian efforts, and those investments have paid off. In the past 50 years, child deaths worldwide have been reduced by more than half; polio has been nearly eradicated.

Former President George W. Bush created the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief with bipartisan support — and millions of people in Africa are alive today as a result.

President Barack Obama is working with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to implement his plan to address global hunger and food security and to emphasize maternal and child health through the Global Health Initiative.

The international affairs budget is now before Congress, and we were gratified to see a growing consensus on its importance.

In recent months, 247 members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — wrote the president to urge an increase in his fiscal year 2011 request. As we support robust investment in our tools of smart power, we also welcome executive branch and congressional initiatives to modernize those tools to ensure accountability, be responsive to in-country needs and achieve the impact our interest and ideals require.

We realize the deficit is soaring and money is tight in Washington. Few know better than the two of us that the budget is a balancing act of limited resources and many worthy priorities.

While we have disagreed in the past on what priorities should be, we see eye to eye on why rebuilding our civilian-led tools of development and diplomacy is important.

For a small fraction of slightly more than 1 percent of the federal budget, our investment in helping others to help themselves overseas is one of the most cost-effective ways our government can keep us both safe and prosperous.

South Dakota Democrat Tom Daschle served as Senate majority leader from 2001 to 2003. Tennessee Republican Bill Frist served as Senate majority leader from 2003 to 2007. Both are advisers to the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

© 2010 Capitol News Company, LLC

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

brittany cannon photo 2

My first week in Roatan, Honduras  has been was quite an eye opening and educational experience.

The first day there I met with a dentist to discuss a dental hygiene educational program and I discovered there was basically "no such thing" as preventative measures regarding dental health here. As with many other countries, dental health is of no concern to the people.  If you have to choose between eating rice for a couple of days or having your teeth cleaned, you would most likely pick eating.

A significant dental health issue among the children here is maintenance of of their primary molars. I didn't know the significance of the primary molar until our meeting with the local dentist. The primary molar basically sets the stage for a young person’s entire mouth.  A child usually gets his/her first molars six years of age. Well, because preventative dental health measures have not been taught many of the children's teeth have severe decay including their primary molars. When the decay becomes very severe, the solution is to pull the tooth. Although this is a temporary fix for the child in terms of alleviating the pain, it poses huge problems for the child’s permanent teeth development and future dental health. The primary molar is actually an adult tooth and if it gets pulled it will cause the child’s other teeth to become very crowded and grow in incorrectly.

Our job is to gather data on the local school children to quantify the severity of decay in each child’s mouth and report whether the primary molar had been extracted. This data will hopefully aid the dentist in receiving a grant to help address this problem.

Before we collected the data in each classroom we did a dental hygiene educational class. We taught the children why it is important to brush their teeth and why good dental hygiene was important to their overall health.  After teaching them the basics of dental health we gave them all tooth brushes. This was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done because when they received their tooth brush  they acted like we had handed them a magical toy.  They were so excited to show us how they were going to brush their teeth. I really felt this was definitely worth while!

Over the four day period of going into schools we educated 385 children on how to brush their teeth and taught them why they should. They were very eager to learn and it was obvious that they had not received even basic training on this important aspect of health. A lot of the children asked for tooth brushes for their parents!  Hopefully we made an impact and my biggest hope is that with the knowledge we provided them they will continue to brush and one day it will become a cultural norm here.

 

June 2, 2010

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

Upon my arrival to the Cygera Faith and Hope Children’s Home  I discussed the problems and what could be done about them with my preceptor, Elizabeth Nzakizwanimana, who the nurse for the children’s home, Ernest Batera, the administrator of the children’s home and the local church’s pastor, and John Mary Bemeyimana, the headmaster of the school.

Environmental Illnesses: Malaria and Spider-Bites

The immediate need  presented to me was environment-related illnesses.  Two children were recovering from malaria and several had spider bites.  Spider bites can be dangerous if incurred from a poisonous spider.   Malaria can be life threatening, and mosquitoes can spread other dangerous illnesses as well. Therefore, my first objective quickly became analyzing and addressing environmental hazards at the children’s home and adjacent school. 

My environmental analysis revealed both broad problems and some more addressable problems. Those that I was able to address included the pest problems, which I tackled in several ways. First , we placed screen over the windows to avoid insects coming into the children’s bedrooms.  Second, we sprayed a pesticide barrier around the homes and nearby school to detour insects.  So that these interventions would be continued after I leave, I asked the home administrator to assist me. He helped me place the screens, dilute the pesticide concentrate appropriately, and helped spray it.  Third, I placed fly traps in the homes, reducing the chance of fly-related food contamination, and conjunctivitis, which is often caused by flies. During my assessment,  I questioned staff about the presence of lice and bed bugs. They denied their presence and said they were currently preventing these problems by washing bed linens regularly and keeping the children’s hair short. I explained the use of the lice treatment materials and gave to them for future use.

Sanitation

Sanitation is another environmental problem. There is a lack of a garbage system and the outhouses used at the children’s home were incredibly dirty. One of the caretakers explained that they scrubbed them out weekly, along with the floors of the homes.  I provided scrub brushes I had brought with me and suggested that the outhouses be cleaned twice a week to avoid fecal-related infectious disease.

The entire community has no publicly provided means of garbage disposal; therefore, they simply throw it on the ground, or give it to children to play with.  The children’s home has a small composting system, but the community as a whole does not. This problem is much greater than I can address during the time I will be here and requires government cooperation and funding.

Climate-related Problems

Climate related problems include extremes in temperature with a vast difference between day and night.   Some of the children and I have been sick with head and chest colds probably due to the cold nights.  The local people call this illness “grape” and told me that I had it because I drank a cold Fanta (a soft drink soda) the day before I got sick!  This explanation prompted me to educate them on the correct cause of colds and was to prevent them.  Another climate related problem is lack of consistent rain fall. Like many equatorial locations, Cygera has a rainy season and a dry season. In order to manage water supply, the children’s home has two rain water storage tanks which collect from the two roofs. I have suggested to Hope 2.2.1. that purchasing more storage tanks would allow the home to use rain water only throughout the dry season, rather than resorting to using a local stream, which is highly contaminated. In the future, it would also be beneficial to install rain water collection at the school and any home that have metal roofs. The problem of unclean water will be addressed in the next update.

Hand Washing Campaign

I have also begun my hand washing campaign. I first taught the children at the Faith and Hope Children’s home as well as the caregivers and cooks.  I did this by simply discussing the steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with some minor changes for cultural effectiveness, such as singing “Jesus Loves Me” instead of “Happy Birthday” as the guide for how long it takes for an effective hand washing.  I then prepared a handout and posted it on the hand washing station and also demonstrated the technique at a hand washing station outside of the homes. 

Additional hygiene education involved a Coleman solar camp shower which is more effective in prevention of infectious diseases than their current use of a bucket of water. I am still persuading the adults that it is better to bathe this way for full coverage and with warm water.  I have purchased soap for the home, because the soap they were using was actually for laundry. They used it because it was cheaper.   I was given permission to teach hand washing and give soap and handouts to the congregation after church on Sunday. In this class, we discussed the proper way to wash hands and when we should wash our hands to prevent infection and disease. The people asked questions and showed interest. The outcome of the hand washing campaign will be determined by observation at the children’s home and school over the next nine weeks. Members of the church class will simply be asked in coming services if they have been washing their hands at appropriate times and with correct technique.

Dental Hygiene

I have begun working on dental hygiene by providing the children with toothpaste, toothbrushes, and dental floss to aid in prevention of dental diseases.  I also began the nutritional portion of my objectives. I created an excel spreadsheet for tracking the daily intake of the adults and children at the Faith and Hope Children’s Home and have documented all meals since my arrival.

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