Weekly Awesome Madagascar: Personal Tales of Pecadom+; A Difficult Reality

Written By: Alicia Adler

Photo credit: Alicia Adler. Community Health Worker administering an RDT during a Pecadom + sweep.

Photo credit: Alicia Adler. Community Health Worker administering an RDT during a Pecadom + sweep.

The room was eerily quiet – so quiet I could hear the slow drip from the medicine bag hanging by the hospital bed. Men, women, and children sat solemnly around the head of a young boy, stuck in a coma caused by malaria. Not a word was said as they all silently hoped the child, only six years old, would soon wake up. Tragically he did not. And a few hours later, in a room just down the hall, a little girl died. Also from malaria. Two deaths in one day. Two deaths that were completely preventable.

This time of year malaria cases increase significantly across Madagascar, especially in the coastal regions (where I live). But with the closest medical clinic located up to four hours from many villages, people wait until the situation is grave before seeking help. Coupled with a lack of education about malaria, this means people often arrive at the hospital when they are dangerously ill. And in the case of the little boy and little girl, it’s too late for treatment.

I find myself both heartbroken and frustrated by this. With a disease that is both preventable and treatable, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for children to be dying. And yet this is the difficult reality we see every day here in Madagascar and countries across Africa.

In an effort to confront some of these barriers to treatment, Peace Corps Madagascar recently introduced Pecadom +. Pecadom +, a pilot program I am participating in, works with the Community Health Workers in rural villages to provide active detection for malaria during the rainy season. This means that we go into the village and visit every household, every week for 6 months. If someone has a fever we take their temperature, administer an RDT (Rapid Diagnostic Test for malaria) and provide the medicine if they test positive. And all of this is free- giving people a chance to be tested and treated without any financial or distance barriers. We are only piloting this in one of my 12 fokontanys (cluster of villages), but we can already see the results proving its success – if you call dozens of positive malaria cases in 3 weeks a success… With our local clinic currently overflowing with cases of malaria, I only wish we had the resources to provide active detection in every village.

I never expected death to be such a common theme of my Peace Corps service. And with almost 1 ½ years left in my service, I sadly know I will see many more lives lost. I can only hope that programs like Pecadom + and my constant pestering about bed nets will give only little boy or girl the chance at a future.

Posted in Madagascar, PECADOM+, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , ,

Weekly Awesome Madagascar: Personal Tales of Pecadom +; You Sweep Me Off My Feet

Written By: Camille Yameen

Photo credit: Camille Yameen. Saondra; Women's care group, the President of the Fokontany; CHW, and Claurice; CHW show off their Malaria BCC tools inside the health hut.

Photo credit: Camille Yameen. Saondra; Women’s care group, the President of the Fokontany; CHW, and Claurice; CHW show off their Malaria BCC tools inside the health hut.

No matter how often I do it, waking up at 5 a.m. never gets easier.  As I laid in my bed, I could hear my village coming to life around me; people fetching water, others walking toward the market, mothers calling out to their children. The only thing that helped to pull me out of bed was that I had a Starbucks VIA instant coffee pack, courtesy of a recent care package, waiting for me. That, and that it was a sweep day. As I sat at my kitchen table nursing my coffee, I started mentally prepping myself for what the day held – going house to house with my community health workers in one of my fokontanies (cluster of surrounding villages) seven kilometers away, testing anyone with a fever for Malaria. Since we started PECADOM+ here back in December, this fokontany had been conducting weekly sweeps and had already treated 346 fevers, 143 of which were positive for Malaria. We’d been averaging 30 fevers a week, but I was crossing my fingers that the numbers had gone down. I swallowed the last bit of coffee and double checked the contents of my backpack: notebook, pen, water bottle, bananas, granola bars, toilet paper, rain jacket and umbrella. (Malaria season is sure to bring unpredictable weather. The sky cannot be trusted.)

Packed up, I headed out at 6:30 a.m. Walking to Miaranarivo is like navigating a military boot camp, but one I can’t take too seriously,  or else I’d never make it. …through the candy cane forest, past the sea of swirly twirly gum drops…then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel. This particular day started out sunny, but I watched as gray clouds rolled in like waves and knew it was only a matter of time before I’d be battling with the sky. I pushed myself up and down hills, walked down dirt roads ankle-deep in mud that swallowed my feet like quicksand, crossed chest-deep water by way of a fallen tree trunk as a makeshift bridge, through rice fields, using branches and bushes to keep my balance, (though I slipped numerous times), washed my legs as best I could in puddles, dug rocks out of my sandles and cringed as I felt blisters forming on my feet.

Arriving two hours later, I was already tired, but knew I still had hours of walking ahead of me. I found my CHW, Claurice, and we made our way to the toby (health hut), where he and the other CHW help to treat people with minor illnesses. Soaking wet, we all sat and discussed where the fevers were as Claurice packed his backpack with the Malaria tests, medicine, paperwork and gloves we’d need for the day. Saondra, the care group leader who finds the fevers first, told us we only had five reported fevers, mostly children. To my relief, the numbers had gone down, but we didn’t know the condition of each person.

Together, we headed back out in the rain, my hood up, Saondra’s hair wrapped in a cloth and Claurice’s coat protecting the supplies. We walked kilometer after kilometer, stopping at the houses with the fevers, Saondra calling out to let them know we had arrived. Once inside, the beginning felt routine: hands shaken, apologies for being muddy given, supplies arranged, illnesses inquired. But a temperature check and fingerprick later, nothing was routine. As we waited for the results of the test, I started asking questions about mosquito net usage: do you have a mosquito net? Who sleeps under the net? Can I see it? Are there holes on it? Do you know how to sew and repair the net?

 The first few tests were negative, so they were referred to the hospital to consult the doctor. But then we tested a 12-year-old boy who was so weak, he could barely lift his arms over his head or speak. He was the first positive. Then came a mother who tested positive. We decided that if there was a positive, we’d go ahead and test all who share the mosquito net since Malaria is easily transmittable and they might not yet be showing symptoms. She brought her 18-month-old daughter with her and insisted that she had already been treated for Malaria a few weeks back and was healthy again. While she had already had Malaria once, we tested anyway and sure enough  two lines appeared, signaling she tested positive again. Once we got to the final house, a mother came out with her 11-month-old twin boys and I felt my heart shift. No matter what, seeing sick children is not easy and one was so visibly ill, I knew he would test positive before the test was even completed. Once Claurice pricked his finger, he started crying and then his twin whipped his head around and, seeing his brother in distress, started crying too, tears the size of peanuts rolling down their cheeks. Two tests later, we had two wailing babies and two positives.

As we finished up and I headed the seven kilometers back through the obstacle course, I kept going over the cases in my head, visions of nets with holes, unprotected babies, sick mothers, finger pricks and used tests. I was haunted by all I had seen. I wished so deeply and so honestly that there was an easy fix. But there are just so many people, so many houses to go to, so many nets to repair and people without nets; it’s a daunting task for two CHW’s, one care worker, and one PCV. My work here and with my CHWs is far from done. The only thing I was positive about as I hiked back through mud and rain and blazing heat, tired and sweaty and dirty, is how important the Pecadom+ program is.

Posted in Madagascar, PECADOM+, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Weekly Awesome Madagascar: Personal tales of Pecadom+; A National Malaria Coordinator’s Perspective

Written By: Liz Toomey

Photo credit: Liz Toomey. Brooke Kindler and two community health workers test a family for malaria during a weekly Pecadom+ sweep.)

Photo credit: Liz Toomey. Brooke Kindler and two community health workers test a family for malaria during a weekly Pecadom+ sweep.)

Inspired by the success of Pecadom+ (Prise en charge a domicile) in Senegal, Peace Corps Volunteers in Madagascar are piloting this model for malaria case management in four rural villages in the east and southeast of the island: Mahatsara Est, Maromitety, Beronono, and Lopary .  Malaria is endemic in 90% of Madagascar, but the entire population is considered at risk of contracting the disease.  Health PCV’s situated in these areas were selected to pilot this program due to the exceptionally high transmission rates on the east and southeast coast of Madagascar.

Similar to Senegal, the pilot program was preempted by a series of trainings for the Doctors, Community Health Workers, women’s group volunteers, and PCVs participating in this 6 month program.   Training topics included a review of the basics of malaria, introduction to the PECADOM+ program, hands on rapid diagnostic testing (RDT)/artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) training, supply chain review, thermometer usage training, review of the data collection tools, and planning for the coming six months.  The protocol for weekly sweeps was detailed, and the stage was set for change.

Photo credit: Liz Toomey. A community health worker, Vivianne, administers an RDT test for malaria on a 4 year old girl.

Photo credit: Liz Toomey. A community health worker, Vivianne, administers an RDT test for malaria on a 4 year old girl.

Unlike Senegal, Madagascar has a new government; one in which Peace Corps was not allowed to work with between 2009-2014.  Due to the lack of foundation and prior working relationship with the National Malaria Control Program (PNLP); we are simultaneously trying to prove ourselves from the ground up and the top down.  As the National Malaria Coordinator with Peace Corps; it is my job to defend Pecadom+  data in meetings with USAID and PNLP, ensure there is no rupture in the supply chain at the four sites, trouble shoot all issues that come up in the program, and most importantly, ensure the future and expansion of the program.  PNLP in Madagascar has been a bit skeptical of the program, and they seem to have a lack of confidence in their own health system; especially CHWs in the countryside, who are working at the lowest level, and most involved in the program. After five months of presenting Pecadom + in meetings, seeking out commodities,  revising data collection tools, and providing as much support as possible to the four PCVs participating in this program; I was finally able to head out to the field for our midline site visit to go on weekly sweeps with the community health workers and PCVs.

Photo credit: Liz Toomey. Velonary, Lea, and their five children are all tested for malaria. Lea, the mother, and her 11 year old son, Doricia, are both positive for malaria.

Photo credit: Liz Toomey. Velonary, Lea, and their five children are all tested for malaria. Lea, the mother, and her 11 year old son, Doricia, are both positive for malaria.

The experience was eye opening.  One sweep took around eight hours; with 39 RDTs administered by the CHWs, and 17 positive for Malaria.  43% of those tested were positive.  Think about that.  Most of those who tested positive had a mosquito net, but most of the nets we looked at had large inviting holes, and were essentially useless.   The PCVs and CHWs talked to each household about the importance of bed net repair, of tucking the mosquito net under bed mats, and reinforcing the importance of seeking care as soon as they become symptomatic.  People really listen to you when you are sitting on their floor, discussing their personal health issues in their own home.  Whether or not they keep this information at the forefront of their minds when you  walk out the door remains to be seen.  But they sure do listen. I believe in Pecadom+.  From my perspective; it’s working.  People in rural communities who would normally have to walk an average of eight kilometers to the nearest health facility are getting free delivery.   People who would normally wait until they’ve been sick for days are seeking out Pecadom+ CHWs for treatment on non-sweep days.  Aside from saving people’s lives; this program is waking people up to the reality of malaria.  Yes, it can be deadly.  But, it is 100% preventable and treatable.  You don’t have to live with it.

Posted in Madagascar, PECADOM+, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Weekly Awesome Games: Malaria Board Game Hits Mozambique

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Whats that buzz? Moz PCV Angela Nguyen has a new malaria board game!

During the 2014 STOMP Out Malaria Month Competition Angela Nguyen, Mozambique Health Volunteer, gave a lesson about malaria to her REDES girl’s empowerment club. The club discussed what malaria is, transmission, prevention, at risk populations, symptoms and treatment. They also talked about the importance of knowing the symptoms of malaria and completing the treatment. While preparing  the lesson, Angela tried to look for a malaria game online because she wanted to make learning the materials fun and enjoyable for the girls. When she couldn’t find anything, she thought, “why not make my own game?”

She created a board game that tests knowledge of malaria through real-life scenarios. She tested out the game with her co-workers first before bringing it to her REDES group. The girls were all really into the game, always racing each other to the end of the game. They would get disappointed whenever they had to move backward. They would also get  scared of the “mosquito” space.  Angela still uses the board game every now and then to refresh their knowledge of malaria.

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Health Volunteer Angela Nguyen giving a talk on malaria.

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Angela’s co-workers test out her malaria board game.

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Angela’s REDES group playing the game.

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Eugenia won!

How to Create the Board Game

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Angela teaching her REDES group how to play the Malaria game.

The board game is for two to eight players. The object of the game is for each player to race to the end. Players roll the dice and move their game piece the corresponding number of spaces. There are four different type of categories the players can land on: question, event, mosquito, and hospital. Question, event, and mosquito are card-drawing spaces.

Dice: Angela used sonobe unit to form the cube: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Sonobe-Unit

Playing pieces: Angela used different type and color cloth pins. The players can also write their name on a post-it note to attach

Question: Player picks up a question card and reads his/her question about malaria. If his/her answer is correct, he/she can stay at his/her spot. If he/she is  wrong, he/she has to go back one space.

Examples of Questions:

What type of mosquito transmits malaria?

What are the symptoms of malaria?

True or false? There is no cure for malaria

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Event: Player picks up an event card, reads his/her scenario and then either moves forward or backward or goes to the hospital depending on what the card says.

Example: 

You are pregnant, go to the nearest hospital to get a mosquito net.

You used insect repellent, move ahead one space.

You are very sick from malaria and can’t go to work, go back two spaces.

Mosquito: Player picks up a mosquito card, reads the scenario and then either stays or misses a turn.

Example:

You didn’t catch malaria because you always sleep under a mosquito net.

You didn’t complete your treatment, you continue to have malaria. Lose a turn.

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Posted in Mozambique, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Weekly Awesome Games: Tigray Region Plays Chutes and Ladders to Reinforce Malaria Education

MattGames

“Malaria is endemic in our area,” an Ethiopian student announced during a class presentation. It is surprising to hear the word, “endemic” from students just learning to speak English. However, the word is well known to most of the children at Yechila Secondary School. Visiting health workers to discuss the threat in their town has made it very familiar to students. Indeed, malaria is a recurring danger in the lowlands of the Tigray region.

“There is confusion and this is dangerous,” one health care official reported. “malaria is not present in some nearby areas, so people are not afraid.” The highlands of Tigray lack the many of the conditions needed to host Malaria. However, lowlands in the same region are breeding grounds for mosquitoes and the spread of the disease. “We must educate people to know the danger, and to prepare.”

MattGames2Health centers have distributed protective bed nets, sprayed insecticides, and destroyed large areas of mosquito habitat; as a result, reported instances of malaria are down 54.2% in some parts of Central Tigray. Despite this, much of the public still does not understand the disease, or how it can be prevented and treated. Nearly 5000 cases of malaria were reported in the Tankua Abergile area alone in the past 6 months.

“My family has a net, but I did not know why,” one students reported.

At Yechila Secondary School, students are learning how Malaria is prevented and treated by playing educational games. Teachers overseeing these activities often take part as well. “It necessary that we should learn to stop the sickness,” said one student.“Malaria can be prevented if we learn and help others to learn as well.”

To engage students in the fight against Malaria, Peace Corps Volunteers will host similar activities throughout the Tigray region in the coming months. One Ethiopian teacher remarked, “Action without understanding is only symbolic. This symbolism cannot save us, but education can.”

Posted in Ethiopia, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Weekly Awesome Games: Chutes and Ladders, Stomp Style!

chutes and ladders

In need of some fun right before semester finals, my preparatory school English Club gathered together under the shade of a tree to learn about malaria.  We started by discussing what they already knew.  “Malaria is caused by mosquitoes.”  “It is a common problem in Ethiopia.”  “When you have malaria, you feel very sick and sometimes go to the hospital.”

To emphasize how relevant malaria education is, we next talked about malaria figures in the world and in Ethiopia.  The students guessed what percentage of malaria deaths worldwide in 2004 E.C. occurred in Africa, but none got even close to the true answer of 90%.  They were also surprised that 75% of their country is malarious.  When asked when they see the most mosquitoes, they responded that during the rainy season there are many mosquitoes.  I confirmed that September to December, and again from April to May, are the times when most malaria occurs in Oromia region.

I then encouraged them to think about how malaria could be prevented.  “Use a bed-net,” replied one student.  Exactly.  We listed several ways to prevent malaria including sleeping under a bed-net, disposing of stagnant water, wearing long sleeves at night, putting screens on house windows, and going to the doctor immediately if you feel sick.

After our discussion, the students were eager to play Chutes and Ladders—the first time they had ever played a board game, they said.  We used different bottle caps for the pieces and a homemade die to roll.  After a few rounds, everyone understood the rules of the game and lots of joking and laughter ensued.  Each time a student’s piece landed on a chute or ladder, they read the description and we discussed what it was about.  The game took about twenty minutes due to one lucky student landing on three ladders in a row!  Afterwards, I asked the students to reflect on the game and this malaria session.  “I really liked the game because it was fun and we learned a lot.”  “Before, I didn’t know about washing bed-nets and I didn’t know malaria mosquitoes are only out at night.  Now I understand better.”  “We should tell our friends and family what we learned because we can stop malaria if we spread knowledge.”

As I walked home, I felt pleased that the students had enjoyed learning about malaria and that they expressed interest in learning more in upcoming clubs.  I’m really looking forward to learning more about this preventable, treatable disease and planning more fun activities to spread the word!

Posted in Ethiopia, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Boot Camp 12: Popcorn Philosophy

written by Anna Shaw, PCV Botswana

Boot Camp 12 case study discussion.

Boot Camp 12 case study discussion.

One of the most intriguing parts of the Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp for me has been the nightly case studies. At first it seemed like a lot: academic articles, after dinner sessions, written responses, thinking. But in reality, these discussions made us consider topics sometimes neglected in the Peace Corps world. Here we get to address big questions – the why’s and the what-if’s – that underscore our work.

It’s not that PCVs don’t ask these questions – we all think about the work we do, but having real discussions about these questions helps us unpack our own ideas, get new inspiration, and understand the importance of context. It feels really good to get my brain matter moving once again. And there was always popcorn.

Just like the skills we have been learning, these case studies can be applied to almost all sectors Volunteers work in. These discussions will help us all do better Malaria projects – and better projects overall.  Through focusing on malaria, we can extrapolate about deeper issues in Development and approach our Service from a stronger foundation.

Should Bed Nets be free?

Are we creating dependency by giving things away? Are people less inclined to use them if they’re free? Will people buy them? Our conclusions seemed to suggest that charging for bed nets decreases the demand for them without increasing proper usage. A small minority might be inclined to buy them because they understand their importance, but general demand will decrease. Because of this, giving bed nets for free means the potential coverage goes up. The benefits of universal coverage might outweigh the potential dependency – eliminating malaria is worth the cost of giving out free bed nets.

A bigger question here is how our cultural background influences our viewpoints of ‘giving things away.’ Understanding why our communities use bed nets, or how they view free distribution, requires us to take ourselves out of it. Their cost-benefit analysis for buying a bed net might look very different from our own.

How should Peace Corps Volunteers work with data? 

What does our pre-programming analysis look like? How do we gather data? How do we utilize it? What are we using our M&E systems for? This questions hit really close to home for me. The longer I spend in Peace Corps, the more I realize my love for all things data-driven. Peace Corps has a lot of great ideas about community involvement in designing and running projects. This sits at the core of the Peace Corps model. However, our M&E system has lots of room for improvement. Our reporting could be much more responsive, allowing Volunteers to really see what’s working and what isn’t in real time. It can also help identify resources and create connections within a community.

Peace Corps Volunteers can also use their resources to make data meaningful to their communities, allowing data to serve as a platform for showing progress and identifying areas for further work. Projects can translate numbers and percentages into impactful displays. Visualizations can be tangible. The cost of malaria can be shown in a pile of rice sacks. Murals can help track the health of women. These numbers belong to the community, and we should be enabling feedback loops including them.

Should we focus our efforts on community-based projects or strengthening health systems? 

Thies Health Hut treatment table. Photo captured at Boot Camp 12 health center field visit.

Thies Health Hut treatment table. Photo captured at Boot Camp 12 health center field visit.

After visiting health facilities at several levels in the health care system (village, town, and district), we were asked to consider whether our efforts are best spent filling the gap at the community level, or improving the system the community feeds into. Successful, sustainable change won’t be made without both aspects, but as PCVs we can’t do everything. Our group was split on this issue – some believing it was important to have a strong health system first, and others believing its important to have strong communities first. We all recognize the links between these systems – and as PCVs we’re well positioned to bring these systems closer together. Knowing where I stand on this issue helps me think about how I might approach my projects, and who I need to partner with in my community.

The trend in development seems to be focusing on the community level, giving Community Health Workers more and more responsibilities and provide services closer to the people. This also means the support they need from the formal systems will have to be strengthened as well.

Should we incentivize health care workers?

Many Community-level healthcare workers in African Countries work on a Volunteer basis – providing basic services and referrals without compensation. Sometimes this can lead to demotivation of these volunteers, and limiting the efficacy of the services they provide. However, providing them with incentives might spoil the pot – it might skew the system away from people who really care about their communities, and create a divide between these workers and the communities they deserve. If we do incentivize them, we have to make sure we are smart about how – maybe we don’t use money, maybe we create incentive through stricter regulation, maybe we use performance monitoring. Maybe the best incentive is showing appreciation for the work of these community volunteers. All of these have their challenges – but this question is going to become more and more important as these Community level workers are given more work to do.

This discussion also highlights the importance of context. The system in Botswana is different than the system in Senegal is different than the system in Ethiopia. Community Health Workers have different motivation and compensation in each, and different forms of incentives will work in each place. Knowing your particular context is essential to thinking about how incentives might work.

The part of these discussions I love the most is applying academic questions to my Service. When I was a student of International Development, I would get so frustrated with these theoretical discussions and case studies that seemed high in the sky. But now that I’m here, I can see how these theories work once they get dusty and kicked around in the village at the end of the road.

Posted in Uncategorized

Boot Camp 12: PECADOM+ Session Recap

written by Zach Crawford, PCV Benin

For Peace Corps Volunteers, malaria prevention work manifests incrementally. Prevention awareness, mosquito net distributions and health education become the small steps we take to slowly reducing infection rates and, ultimately, the financial and familial burdens of malaria. Bold measures are few and far between, and an even smaller number of these measures yield robust results that can be replicated elsewhere. Despite the obstacles, one particular project seems to show much promise in the fight against malaria: PECADOM+.

PECADOM+, or the French acronym ‘prise-en-charge à domicile,’ was first born with an eye toward the geographic, financial, educational and service barriers to accessing malaria treatment. It’s essentially a massive test-and-treat campaign focusing on identifying malaria symptoms, testing the suspected cases and offering ACT to the confirmed cases – all at zero cost to those infected. The program was piloted in three communities in the Kolda Region of Senegal and was subsequently revamped and expanded in 2013 and again in 2014 to include lessons learned and greater community involvement.

Starting the initiative requires massive collaboration between (and among) Peace Corps Volunteers and he host-country’s national malaria control program at the local and district levels. The three-day theoretical training for health care workers happens at the district level, followed by five days of practice in their communities. The idea is for the paid health care workers or designated community health agents to go to every household once a week to administer rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) to suspected cases and to provide treatment for the positive cases—all for free. Data is collected over the course of the entire rainy season as well as during the first month after the rains stop when malaria prevalence is generally highest. For the pilot programs in Senegal, data collection spanned 20 weeks with weekly check-ins with community health workers to ensure proper data collection and to troubleshoot any problems that may arise. A Peace Corps grant was also issued for PECADOM+ to cover the costs of phone credit and bags to transport all of the RDTs and medicines. The local agents can also reach out to a designated community advisor with questions and concerns.

The results have been staggering. In the latest execution of PECADOM+ last year, malaria prevalence per 1,000 fell to approximately 10 people by the end of the 20 weeks of data collection, thereby approaching eradication of malaria in the targeted communities. Volunteers attributed much of their success to their dedicated work partners and a multi-tiered system of command for both participating volunteers and host country nationals that made for streamlined data collection and communication.

Here at Boot Camp, our goal is to eliminate malaria any way we can, and PECADOM+ serves as a great model to achieve just that in our communities.

Posted in Benin, Boot Camp, PECADOM+

Boot Camp 12: A Peace Corps Staff Perspective

Aicha Pitroipa Grants Manager for Peace Corps Burkina Faso. Photo by: Akeen Hamilton, PCV South Africa

Aicha Pitroipa Grants Manager for Peace Corps Burkina Faso. Photo by: Akeen Hamilton, PCV South Africa

I am Aicha Pitroipa, Grants Manager from Peace Corps Burkina. I was very pleased to be selected by Peace Corps Burkina to take part in Boot Camp XII. I feel lucky to be part of this great group!

Learning perspective
I consider the two week training to be an exchange rather than a formal training. We had malaria experts present from Peace Corps headquarters, malaria initiatives like PMI, The Global Fund, Roll Back Malaria and many others. We listened to empowering speeches that encouraged critical thinking. In each session, we not only listened but we asked questions, made comments and suggestions. The exchange was highly participatory. Malaria was addressed from various perspectives, taking into account gender and age. It’s been a busy two weeks because work continued after dinner with a case study discussion.  For the discussion participants were split into groups to brainstorm and discuss case studies on malaria case management and prevention. Mosquito net distribution and usage was highlighted in this Boot camp with cases studies, strategies, monitoring and future perspectives.
Group project brainstorm at Boot Camp 12.

Group project brainstorm at Boot Camp 12.

Sharing perspective
17 countries were represented by Peace Corps Volunteers and staff members. They each presented the malaria situation in their respective countries and the actions that were undertaken in each country by Peace Corps Volunteers to stomp out malaria in Africa. Besides the country presentation, each country team presented the best practice of their country to inspire the Boot Campers. I found this really inspiring and empowering because each practice was exceptional, single, rich of information and interesting as a success.
Network spirit
This camp has fostered a network connection among all the participants. The best lesson learned was that each country is very active in the fight against malaria and we need to continue focusing with intensity on this killer disease to contribute to the global fight to eradicate malaria. As a team, Boot camp XII participants will be using electronic tools to share ideas, practices and supporting each other to continue and improve the impact of malaria education. Facebook, Google, and twitter pages were created to keep the participants updated and to constantly reminding us of the malaria issue and progress in the fight.
Health Center field visit at Boot Camp 12. Photo by: Akeen Hamilton, PCV South Africa

Health Center field visit at Boot Camp 12. Photo by: Akeen Hamilton, PCV South Africa

Plan ahead
As a staff member, I feel myself more empowered to better support Volunteers in both funded and non-funded projects in the communities of Burkina Faso. I am also planning to share malaria resources with my colleagues back in Burkina Faso and to work more closely with Peace Corps Burkina Malaria Project Coordinators for effective volunteer support and to report to the national malaria program for volunteers’ contribution on the topic. In Burkina Faso, we have set up a board in the office to post volunteers’ success stories and we will devote a corner of this board for malaria success stories, progress, activities and data to inform and inspire staff and volunteers. As a Boot camp participant, I feel myself fully part of this global fight. With this camp initiative I am sure that malaria prevalence will regress tremendously in Africa. Unity is power! Let’s unite to stomp out this killer disease!
Posted in Boot Camp, Burkina Faso Tagged with: , , ,

Boot Camp 12: Theories of Change

written by Anna Shaw, PCV Botswana

When you first join Peace Corps, you’re taught about managing your expectations. As a Volunteer, you’re much more likely to create change at a micro level than you are to change the world. You might impact the life of a single person, or maybe you’ll get lucky and influence the future of your community. But end illiteracy? Change agricultural practices? Cure HIV? Impossible.

But then you arrive in Senegal for Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp.

Here, dreaming big isn’t discouraged – it’s required.

Stomping Out Malaria in Africa is Peace Corps’ answer to our innate desires to make real change. The goal is to create an enabling environment for PCVs to make this change: providing us with the skills and knowledge to think big, and helping us find the partners and resources to make that a reality. Together with international partners, Peace Corps Volunteers are helping bring an end to malaria, and they are doing it now.

Read more ›

Posted in Boot Camp, Botswana Tagged with: , , , , ,