With every loss, there is always something to gain. We bid farewell on Friday too our volunteer's COS'ing (Close of Service) and welcomed our new LIFE (which is the PC Zambia agriculture program) volunteers on Sunday. They are still in training but stopped by for the night on the way back to Lusaka following second site visit. We are getting 7 volunteers from LIFE and 4 RED (the education program) volunteers. It's exciting to get new volunteers and puts your service into perspective. 6 months ago I was the new volunteer, scared shitless, showing up at the house for the night following second site visit, and now I'm the one answering questions, discussing challenges, and trying my best to make them feel welcome. Central Province is an amazing province, we are like a little family here, and having other volunteers that support you and allow you to come and just vent about what was hard in your village, or help you celebrate your successes, no matter how small, is key to keeping you going.
So at the end of the month we're going to be "sophomores" and the intake that was a year before us are going to be "seniors" and will be COS'ing before we know it.
I went to a nutrition workshop up in Northern Province, and I'm hoping to implement the program in my village. It's called PS/Ishiko. PS stands for Positive Support and Ishiko is the Bemba word for hearth. The idea of the program is that it is the community teaching the community. First we do an initial baseline assessment to identify the malnourished children in the community, while at the same time identifying the very healthy children. From there we ask some of the mothers of the healthy children to be our "positive support mothers" and then we set up Ishiko sessions, where 10-12 mothers and their children attend for two weeks and we teach them how to cook meals high in nutritional value. One day they learn how to prepare it and feed it to the kids and the next day they prepare it and feed it to the kids. The hope is to get the kids re-nourished during the 2 weeks then have the mothers continue to keep them nourished. I did a test run observation during my under 5 clinic last week and noticed that about 75% of the children were under their baseline weight. Starting this week I will be training my volunteers to collect the data since I will be in Tanzania during child health week, then in August we will have our first Ishiko session. In the mean time we need to start having meeting with the NHC's (Neighborhood health committees), local leaders, and the church in order to sensitize the community to the program. The hope is that after I leave they will continue to make the baseline assessments and hold the Ishiko sessions. It should take about a year to complete the program, so I am looking forward to getting started. It is also going to be conducted in my entire catchment area, which is really good because I haven't had a lot of exposure in the surrounding villages. I struggle with that because the person that is supossed to be helping me to go to meetings in the other communities, and i need him because I need him to translate for me. He is a wonderful person and very hardworking but I get very frustrated with him because its hard to catch him in a free minute.
The weather is changing its starting to get really cold at night and in the mornings. The rains should be going soon and we'll move into dry cold season. So, new programs, new weather, new volunteers.
Much love to all of you!