Calandra Miller, South Africa
So far things are going well in South Africa. My accommodations are nice and I am starting to become acclimated to the J'oburg suburb lifestyle. My work started here last Monday with a debriefing session with Stefan. We work out of a container that is on the property of a Catholic church. Each day there is a different task scheduled. On Tuesdays, we go to a little Protestant church in the informal settlement to meet with several of the women who are participants in a small savings and loan program called Village Savings Fund (VSF). Mostly all of the women have young children.
Engelina and Eva, two local women, lead these meetings and act as interpreters for Glenn and me. With such an attentive audience, it is the perfect venue to do health education. A retired health advisor, Mama Tandi, then discusses the current women's health topic. Last week, it was breast and cervical cancer. After the health talk, we begin the health screening. With the help of Engelina, Eva, and Mama Tandi, Glenn and I record height, weight, BP, and whether the children take breast milk, formula, or solid foods. We will continue to collect the data mostly to asses the health risks of obesity and hypertension.
On Wednesdays, the women come up to the Catholic Church to participate in a baby bathing. My role in this event is purely voluntary. I help wash, sanitize, and fill baby tubs so that the moms can wash their babies in warm water. Other organizations also participate by giving clothes for the children and soup. The women go into the container that serves as a clinic.
Thursdays and Fridays, we go out into the settlement and visit with women who participate in the VSF. We survey the moms using a rapid assessment tool called a parenting map to gather information about child wellness issues.
The health screenings, baby bathing, and VSF surveying are all of secondary priority. The main focus for my time with Project Hope UK is to design, implement, and interpret a survey to be used as a needs assessment of the health status of the children in Munsieville. With Glenn also on the same project, we have been able to share the work load so that we can participate in the other aspects of Project Hope as well.
Mostly I am out in the field in Munsieville (about 45 min away from my house) Monday through Friday 8-2ish and then spend a few hours each day on the Munsieville survey.