Happy New Year!
I went home to the United States for Christmas and New Year's. Upon returning to Sierra Leone in January, I felt re-energized and excited to get back into my work at Africare. January is a busy month for us, as many of our deadlines for filing reports and proposals come at the end of this month. One of my biggest tasks at the moment is to help Africare complete the annual report for an HIV/AIDS education program that we are undertaking together with the Global Fund. This program takes place in the Kenema and Kailahun Districts, and trains young people about how HIV is transmitted and what measures they can take to protect themselves. Next week I will be traveling to Kenema, in order to write some more detailed and story-based narratives on the program. In particular, we are looking for success stories, as well as some possible mistakes, so that we can discuss some of the lessons we've learned for year 2 of the program. In addition, I am working on a proposed project with UNICEF to lower infant and maternal mortality. This involves training traditional birth attendants (TBAs), educating mothers on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, and improving support for women who suffer gender-based violence.
In two weeks, I'm traveling to Nelspruit, South Africa for Princeton in Africa's annual reunion and retreat. I am very excited to be able to discuss my adventures with my fellow PiAfers. All of Freetown (and, I gather, all of Africa) was excited today for the inauguration of President Obama. While many have unreasonably high expectations of the new president, there is a renewed sense of wonder and appreciation for the United States here.
Happy New Year!