Six weeks feels like six days when doing development work. I can’t believe how fast the time has flown by and that I now only have 3 weeks left working in my community, with the Centro, and with the wonderful people I have gotten to know here! Before leaving for this trip I thought 9 weeks was going to be an incredibly long time to do a project, but I have figured out very quickly that it is really only enough time to scratch the surface. It has been interesting as well to meet volunteers in other programs that are only here volunteering for 2 or 3 weeks (normally a decent length for a trip but now equal to the amount of time I have left) and I can’t even imagine at this point being here for so short a time. In the last two weeks especially I have realized that there is still so much more work that needs to be done for these classes I have started. The first time running a class is really just the begining of the process of seeing what works and what doesnt, especially in customizing them to the communities in which we are
working. Although we are reviewing the materials as we go, it is a process that needs to be continued throughout the existence of the classes which I can only hope that will be done after I leave. There are also just so incredibly many more people to reach, and naturally, I want to reach them all!
As the class develops, so do ideas, and I wish I could be here to help implement them, but with the time restraints they would ideally have been started day 1 of the class. The biggest idea is to incorporate a skill learning aspect into the pregnancy class (such as nail painting, hair cutting, bracelet making - all very common personal businesses here) both to draw interest for the class and to empower the women through learning a skill they could use to earn money during and/or after their pregnancy. Most of the women in my group are stay at home wives and mothers, with only a few still attending school, so it would be a great 2-in-1 deal. However, with limited time remaining in this session of classes it isn’t going to work out for this round. In hopes of implementing something
Myths & Facts - Demonstrating what not to do...
MITO (myth): When a baby has a sunken fontanelle you should turn them upside down and hit the bottom of their feet to make it return to its normal place.
HECHO (fact): This could be a sign of dehydration or possibly something else serious and instead of hitting their feet, take them to the clinic or hospital!
like this in the future I am talking with some of the nurses to see if they can maybe work this into the next class session.
There have also definitely been some changes to my work plan, as is to be expected. While both classes were originally going to be 9 weeks and continue with the same group after I left before the final fiesta, I have had to change the curriculum of both classes to be only 6 weeks long so I can see them through till the end before I leave. It is not an ideal length since there are so many topics to cover and pregnancy is a 9-month process, but this way seems easier for the nurses and they can then start the class fresh with new participants after I leave. They can then have control over how long they want the class to end up being and I am sure it will continue to evolve over time. We have also consolidated my 2 pregnancy groups into one because attendance hasn’t been sufficient in either to make the two separate classes worth it. Although it is sad to not be able to continue the original
Ensalada de Fruta para las Embarazadas!
Spanish lesson: Embarazada does NOT mean embarrassed in spanish, it means pregnant...
idea of taking the classes into the community, the women from the other class are still able to come to the Casa Materna, so the losses have been minimal. I think this will also make the project more sustainable since the single class will be taking place weekly at the Casa Materna which is right beside the Centro and very easy for the nurses to get to in the afternoon.
The unexpected issue of attendance. I never anticipated attendance would be such a struggle, but it is a very real obstacle in this sort of project and I am still figuring out how to overcome it. Surprisingly, the adolescent class has not been a problem at all. The numbers have varied week to week (10, 8, and this week 14!), but there are 8 constant participants which I am very happy about. The pregnant women however is another story. I am providing food at the classes, the nurses are telling their patients, and I have been sending out reminder texts to all of the women in the nearby neighborhoods, but the reality is that when it rains, no one leaves their house. Each week there has been at least
one new woman, so I am hoping the word will continue to spread and eventually the class will grow, even if that happens after I leave. Attendance also poses a dilemma for the topics I am teaching because the same women have not been there for every single class and so have missed some of the information. Hopefully some participants from this class will spill over into the next and so will get the full course and maybe even stick around to help teach and share with new women who attend the class. This could also help the women gain more of an ownership of the group and the information (a topic I will be bringing up with them soon...) and help the class to continue.
The promising news though is that I have now mostly ´solidified´ people to continue each of these classes after I leave and it is such a great thing to see the nurses becoming more interested and dedicated to the purpose of the classes! I have had a concrete conversation with both of the nurses working with me on the pregnancy class and with the psychologist who is working with me on the adolescent
My pregnancy class attempting to understand my spanish
class (actually quite the accomplishment) and everyone is excited to continue and passionate about what we are trying to do! Yay!
Sorry for the long break between posts and therefore the resulting novel of a post today. It is easy to get caught up in life and not sit down to do some much needed reflection. This weekend all the interns are headed to the beach, a change from our usual volcano hiking, so relaxation will be the word of the day on Saturday!
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