Peace Corps Senegal Meeting to Expand PECADOM+

PC Senegal Volunteers at a regional meeting to discuss PECADOM+ expansion.

Peace Corps Senegal Country Director, Cheryl Faye, and Peace Corps Senegal Volunteers at a regional meeting to discuss PECADOM+ expansion.

On March 16th, Peace Corps Senegal volunteers came together for a regional meeting with a special visit from PC Senegal Country Director Cheryl Faye. At the meeting, Regional PECADOM+ coordinators Randi Rumbold and Lexi Merrick kicked off the discussion of expanding the PECADOM+ initiative to a new region. The two introduced the basics of the program to volunteers, spoke about programs planned with the national malaria campaign and gave an introduction to the volunteer positions that will be open in the new region.

PECADOM+ is an active surveillance program for malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia that was started at one health post in the Kedougou region as a Peace Corps project in 2011 and has since been scaled up to the entire region of Kedougou, and this year will expand to a new region as well. The program brings testing and treatment closer to the household level as community health volunteers called DSDOMs go house to house in their villages and surrounding communities once a week to test anyone with a fever and give them treatment if the test is positive.

Peace Corps Senegal and the National Malaria Control Program are in discussion about which region will be selected to expand the PECADOM+ initiative.

Posted in PECADOM+, Senegal Tagged with: , , , ,

Peace Corps Collaboration ZMC Style

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ZMC Members: Evan Brothers, Simon Banda, Dana Fitzpatrick, Suegatha Rennie, Katherine Milling, Malcolm Barber, Hannah Harrison, Nicole Nation, Valerie Steinmetz, Rachel Moscato, Dana Sellers, Nirav Shah, Rachel Geyer, Zach Howarth, Kathryn Meagley, Julie Polumbo, Jasmine Gringas (left to right)

Peace Corps/Zambia recently formed the Zambia Malaria Committee (ZMC). Collaboration is a key strategy to increase the number of Peace Corps Volunteers who address malaria in their communities. ZMC is made up of 17 members with 15 Provincial Malaria Coordinators (PMCs) that are based in the village and represent all four of Zambia’s projects: Education, Environment, Agriculture, and Health.

ZMC, in collaboration with malaria partners, strives to motivate, educate, and support all Peace Corps Volunteers to implement innovative malaria strategies in Zambia. In mid-February, ZMC kick started its work with an intensive 3-day orientation. ZMC members gained a deeper understanding of malaria biology, at-risk populations, and best practices for addressing malaria from across countries in Africa where Peace Corps works.

ZMC is working to design new curriculum, projects, and activities that are appealing and relevant to the project framework of all volunteers, especially within the Environment and Agriculture projects. ZMC has set a goal of one malaria intervention project, per Volunteer, per service across all sectors and projects.

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Members brainstormed ways to incorporate malaria work into education, environment, and agriculture project frameworks.

ZMC members are planning a number of malaria projects for 2015. Rachel Moscato and Dana Sellers are leading malaria mural competitions through SPA umbrella grants with 11 Volunteers. Rachel Geyer is creating a doer/non-doer survey for Volunteers to research mosquito net use in Zambian villages. Jasmine Gringas is coordinating project-specific lesson plans to create a Zambia Malaria Manual. This summer, PMCs will organize and lead four malaria mini-boot camps to train Volunteers and their counterparts. Hannah Harrison is increasing malaria messaging to PCVs.

ZMC is working to make malaria work in Peace Corps fun, easy, and relevant.

Want to learn more about malaria work in Zambia? Like the Zambia Malaria Community on Facebook!

Posted in Zambia Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Weekly Awesome Cameroon: Malaria Education During the Race of Hope

On February 14, Erica Johnson (Agribusiness, third year extension) organized a mass HIV testing and education event at Race of Hope in Buea, Southwest region.

To support the HIV event, Kate Mishkin, the Malaria Coordinator for Peace Corps Cameroon, organized five Volunteers and one Fulbright Scholar to teach 200 community members about HIV/malaria co-infection.

Volunteers Elizabeth Doyle (Agribusiness, 2013-15), Keegan Aspelund (Agribusiness, 2013-15), Mary Witucki (Agribusiness, 2013-15), Anna Nathanson (Agribusiness, 2013-2015), and Daniel Thomas (Education, 2013-15) worked with Shayne Bement (Fulbright Bamenda) to educate about the risk of co-infection, the importance of using bed nets for people living with HIV/AIDS, and the importance for pregnant women to receive their free Intermittent Preventative Treatment and bed net from their nearest government hospital.

About the Race of Hope
The Race of Hope is an annual competition following a 38 kilometer (24 mile) course up and down Mount Cameroon in Buea, Southwest region. With a height of 4, 040 meters (13, 255 feet), it is the highest point in sub-Saharan western and central Africa, and the fourth highest peak in Africa. A trek up Mount Cameroon typically takes visitors three days. The fastest competitors have completed the race in less than five hours.

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Volunteers Daniel Thomas, Keegan Aspelund, and Mary Witucki

Volunteers Daniel Thomas, Keegan Aspelund, and Mary Witucki

Volunteers Anna Nathanson and Elizabeth Doyle work with Fulbright Scholar Shayne Bement

Volunteers Anna Nathanson and Elizabeth Doyle work with Fulbright Scholar Shayne Bement

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Mount Cameroon

Posted in Cameroon, STOMP Coordinators, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , , , ,

Weekly Awesome Cameroon: Working with Catholic Relief Services to Reach OVCs

Catholic Relief Services Cameroon is coordinating a multi-faceted project to target 19,000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) in the Adamawa, Northwest, East, and Center regions. The project will bring social, educational, and nutritional support to the participating OVCs.

14 Peace Corps volunteers plan to participate in the final educational support component of this project. As education materials are distributed, Volunteers  work with community members gathered around distribution points to teach about  malaria transmission, prevention, and the risks of HIV/malaria co-infection.

The roll-out schedule for the final component of the project varies from region to region. The East region began in February.

Kate O’Hare (Youth Development, 2013-2015), and Cody Overstreet (Community Health, 2013-2015), worked with local Catholic Relief Services counterparts to deliver malaria and HIV prevention messages to 137 people in the Bertoua area of the East region.

Orphans and vulnerable children are a high risk for malaria because  they may face challenges such as lack of education about malaria prevention, malnutrition, and lack of adequate shelter.

To learn more about Catholic Relief Services in Cameroon, visit: http://www.crs.org/countries/cameroon

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Posted in Cameroon, Partners, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Weekly Awesome Cameroon: Malaria Education During Regional Agriculture Fair

Peace Corps was represented at the most recent Bamenda Annual Northwest Agricultural Fair. Jacob Moore (Agribusiness, 2012-2015) worked with several Volunteers including Mario Zuniga (Education, 2014-2016), Aya-Marie Hewlett (Agribusiness, 2013-2015),  Colin Korst (Agribusiness 2014-2016), and Elizabeth Doyle (Agribusiness, 2013-2015)  to educate about various topics including Peace Corps’ mission, malaria, HIV/AIDS, jam making, tofu making, and using improved cook stoves.. More than 250 people passed by with 17 taking informational brochures about how to work with Peace Corps Volunteers.

Elizabeth Doyle specifically represented the malaria exhibit at the fair.  She displayed educational posters and engaged participants through the use of an informative malaria Jeopardy game.  This game allowed community members to learn about malaria prevention, transmission, the interaction between food insecurity and malaria, and the importance of prompt care seeking.

Elizabeth Doyle

Elizabeth Doyle

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In addition to working with the Peace Corps volunteers, Jacob also welcomed two colleagues from the Ntankah Village Women CIG to the Agricultural Fair. This organization is the main branch of a network of 10 different women support groups throughout the Northwest region.  These women work with vulnerable populations including HIV/AIDS patients, widows, orphans, children on the street, and abused women to teach safe agricultural practices for income and various income generating activities including tofu making, mushrooms, and improved cook stoves. The organization also provides trainings on family planning and gender equality.

Aya-Marie Hewlett discusses Royal Sweets

Aya-Marie Hewlett discusses Royal Sweets

Aya exhibited a product called “Royal Sweets” which is produced by an organization she works with in her Peace Corps site.  Her organization goes to the market and buys unsellable fruits and transforms them into jam.  Currently they are transforming pineapples into the jam and will go to the market and find the pineapples farmers cannot sell and buy them.  This is a great project from taking waste and making it a natural, healthy edible at a low cost for the public to enjoy.

On the final day of the Fair, officials from the regional delegation including the Mayor, Regional Delegate of Agriculture, and many other prominent representatives in Bamenda visited the Peace Corps booths to learn Peace Corps and Peace Corps’ mission in Cameroon.

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Posted in Cameroon, Uncategorized, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , , ,

Weekly Awesome Cameroon: Malaria Prevention Education on Youth Day

National Youth Day is a national holiday in Cameroon on February 11th to celebrate the young people. In celebration of the holiday Roxanne Cassidy, a Youth Development Volunteer organized multiple malaria education sessions.

Roxanne worked with her counterpart to teach lessons on malaria, HIV/AIDS, the importance of wearing helmets when riding motorcycles, nutrition, and local culture at the local high school.These education sessions were sponsored by the local Royal Museum and the town’s government.

Allison Adams, an Agribusiness Volunteer, helped with the event as well. Children who live at the local Center for Handicaps performed a skit as entertainment. Through the education sessions 77 children between the ages of 8 and 12 learned about malaria prevention.

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

Malaria’s Effects Hit Close to Home for a PCV in Rwanda

By PCV Michael Smith

Over the past four months, the population of Rwanda has been experiencing almost non-stop rainfall. This rainfall has caused the farmlands around Rwanda to spring to life. Gardens and fresh fruit are sprouting up along every walking path, fields which were nothing but dirt before have become lush jungles of vegetation, corn stalks have now become walls for families and compounds seeking a little privacy in this densely populated country. There is a lot to be appreciative of during this rainy season. Despite this abundance of new vegetation and foods there is one downside to the rainy season, with all this rain and vegetation comes the annual upswing of malaria cases.

It is not surprising that malaria accompanies the rainy season, after all the main mode of transportation for this parasite is the mosquito, an insect which breeds in standing bodies of water. In my local district, Rusizi, which is located in the southwestern part of Rwanda and borders Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we have a moderate rate of malaria, however we have one of the highest rates of mortality. This could be due to any number of reasons, which I will not speculate on, but my point is that this deadly parasite surges to life along with the vegetation during the rainy season. For those of us working in health centers throughout the country, we see people every day who have come in for malaria tests and medication, but few of us have had personal experience with someone who has contracted the parasite. Over the month of December I had the opportunity to see someone every day who experienced malaria, and I saw first-hand the effect it has on people and their lives.

My compound was home to three people for the beginning months of my service: myself, a nurse from a neighboring Health Center, and our umukozi, basically a grounds keeper. One day I was working at my health center when the grounds keeper came in to the center not feeling well. My language skills being sub-par at best, I didn’t fully understand what his symptoms were, however the nurse I was working with immediately recognized them. Her suspicions were confirmed upon the blood test that was administered, indeed he had malaria.

While not surprising, it was still odd to think that someone who lived two doors down from me had contracted a potentially fatal disease. This is a young man, in his early 20s, who worked almost exclusively outdoors from sun up until dusk, and who did not sleep with a mosquito net. Fortunately for him, he had the local health insurance MUTUELLE and was able to receive medication almost immediately, although he was bed ridden for almost two weeks. I saw a young man who barely had the energy to wake up in the mornings. He stayed isolated in his room for almost the entire length of time. He had no energy to even go to the market to buy food and often times only prepared one meal a day for himself. Slowly his strength returned and he was able to resume his normal duties, but I saw firsthand the effect this parasite had on a person. The inability to perform daily activities is staggering and for the length of time it takes to fully recover wages have been lost.

Once he had recovered fully, I went with him back to my health center where I spoke with my counterpart about the health center providing him with a mosquito net in hopes that he would use it consistently. We went back to the compound and I assisted him with hanging the net and showed him how to tuck it underneath the mattress. It was a small gesture and may have been a little late but he was very appreciative nonetheless.  I am pleased to say that I did notice him using it frequently.

Part of our job as STOMP is understanding malaria and the effects it has on the community we serve and individuals living within it. Most of us do not have to worry about malaria, the disease has been eliminated in the States and all of us serving overseas have been afforded medication which helps to prevent and combat this parasite. However, millions of people around the world have to struggle with this disease and hundreds of thousands die every year because of it. The best tool we have as volunteers is educating our communities and helping those who lack the means to help themselves.

Posted in Rwanda Tagged with: ,

Weekly Awesome Malawi: Moving Forward – Malawi SWAG Takes Over

Written by: Beccy Burleson

Malawi Team BC12The end of an era is quickly approaching in the world of Malaria outreach in Malawi. Our first team of regional coordinators will COS in April, and a new team fresh from boot camp in Senegal will take over. We’ve even got a sweet new name: Malawi SWAG: Stompin’ Where Anopheles Gather.

Taking over the northern region from Dan Marthey is Ame “The Bees’ Knees” Burke. Ame is a health volunteer from Pennsylvania and is passionate about PCV relations. Therefore her primary focus as regional coordinator will be collecting and disseminating resources to make malaria outreach easy peasy for PCVs all over Malawi, in all sectors. She is already active  in malaria work, mobilizing youth groups through the Nightwatch program and promoting bed net use through Wall of Fame photo projects.

In the central region, Beccy Burleson is taking over for Amie Pendleton-Knoll.  Beccy is a health volunteer from Texas with a background in clinical healthcare. She is interested in health systems strengthening and hopes to pilot a “mini bootcamp” for staff at her local health center to improve malaria outreach in her community. The goal is for this program to grow to a regional or national scale. Her interest in malaria work began during her initial site visit, when she witnessed the death of a two-year old child from severe malaria.

Down south, malaria programming will be headed up by Justin Green, who is taking over for Rachel Ricciardi. Justin is an environment PCV from California who loves working in the community, particularly with youth. He is currently planning a “Malaria Cup” event for World Malaria Day which will include soccer games, dramas, music and educational opportunities.

Together the team is hoping to continue Malawi’s current “best practice” of hosting mini boot camps to train PCVs and their counterparts in malaria outreach. We are aiming for annual, national camps to be followed up with annual, regional one day meetups for continued encouragement, support and team building.

The new team has big shoes to fill, but we couldn’t be more ready. We have been so fortunate to attend boot camp together and to have been guided through this transition by such a great first team. Peace Corps Malawi is currently interviewing applicants for the National Malaria Coordinator, and we are on the edge of our seats as we wait to meet our new leader!

Posted in Malawi, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Weekly Awesome Malawi: Southern Region Mini-Malaria Bootcamp

Written by: Devyn Lee, Education Volunteer 2014-2016

From December 14-17, 2014, 15 Peace Corps Volunteers and 15 Malawian counterparts from the Southern and Central regions attended Malawi’s first ever regional Mini-Malaria Bootcamp. The training took place in Blantyre, Malawi’s Southern Region, and provided opportunities for volunteers and their counterparts from all Peace Corps Malawi sectors (Health, Environment and Education) to learn from each other and the trainers.

Led by PCV Rachel Ricciardi (Southern Region Malaria Coordinator), Rachel’s health clinic counterpart Billiat Frezzer, and PCRV Brooke Mancuso (National Malaria Coordinator), the trainers facilitated sessions on disease epidemiology, prevention, treatment, HIV/AIDS-malaria co infection, behavior change, and malaria awareness/education initiatives of the Malawian Ministry of Health and other collaborating partners. Furthermore, Health PCVs Beccy Burleson and Emma Bussard, who had already attended a nationwide Mini-Malaria Bootcamp in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, facilitated sessions on malaria-related activities being implemented in Malawi, as well as other Sub-Saharan Africa Peace Corps countries.

Mr. McDonald Billiati, the Deputy Head Teacher at Goliati Community Day Secondary School in Thyolo District, attended the training as my counterpart. After the training, I asked Mr. Billiati a few questions about the Bootcamp:

Lee: Mr. Billiati, what did you learn at the Mini-Malaria Bootcamp?

Billiati: I learned so many things about malaria. I learned how to mobilize the community about the problem of malaria, and I learned how to mend a net that has holes in it. Once a net is torn, many people in the villages will just use it as a garden fence instead of repairing it. Many people also do not know how to properly hang a net, and when they receive it they just keep it in their house.

Lee: Great! So how will you use what you learned in your community? What will we do together in Goliati?

Billiati: We will work to incorporate malaria education into our classes at school. We came up with the idea of starting in Life Skills classes, spending one period each week focusing on malaria prevention and awareness. We will then have students write dramas to share what they have learned. They can start performing their dramas at our school assembly, and then move on to other venues in the community such as schools and churches.

Lee: Excellent, I am really excited about working with the students at school. What other people could we work with in the community?

Billiati: I am a member of a community group called CCJP [Catholic Commission for Justice], and we work to sensitize the community about child abuse, gender equality, and other issues. We could use this existing group as a vehicle for malaria education.

Lee: That sounds like a great idea. One last question: what do you think is the most important thing you learned at the training?

Billiati: People really do not understand the importance of using bed nets, especially for children. So many children suffer from malaria, it could all be prevented if they slept under nets.

In the coming months, Mr. Billiati and I are looking forward to implementing more malaria programming in our community, beginning with the students at our school. In addition to the dramas, we will work on creating lesson plans for other teachers to use in the future. We are eager to get started using all the information and materials we gained from the Southern Region Mini-Malaria bootcamp!

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Posted in Malawi, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

It’s a Boy! Meet the Newest Addition to our Family!

1485105_293847500814090_6935911657030893353_nStomp Botswana is ecstatic to proudly introduce to you our newest Malaria Coordinator Volunteer and Boot Camp XI graduate, Mike (aka “Mr. GIS Man”)! Mike is an Local Government Capacity Building volunteer based at the District AIDS Coordinator’s Office located about 100 kilometers away from Francistown.

This past year, Mike has been nothing short of a rock star, using his expertise and passion for mapping to lead Botswana towards the path of malaria eradication. Find out more about Mike and his plans for Stomping Out Malaria in Botswana below.

Where are you from and what were you doing prior to the Peace Corps?

I am most recently from Kansas (Michigan transplant) where I completed my undergrad and earned my MPH from Kansas State University. Just prior to Peace Corps, I was assisting research on tick-mediated zoonotic disease and preparing technical information resource guides for the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center.

What motivated you to apply for the Malaria Coordinator position?

At the last All-Vol Conference, the coordinator from the National Malaria Program (NMP) gave a short presentation. In the presentation, she mentioned that mapping malaria was a new focus. After the presentation, I gave my elevator pitch and from that time I’ve been able to assist the NMP with mapping efforts. The Malaria Coordinator position seemed like another great opportunity.

What was the most valuable thing you learned at Boot Camp and how will you apply what you learned in Bots?

Boot Camp brought countries from all over Africa together. Most of the countries were at various stages of malaria elimination. It was interesting to hear from the other countries how they are moving towards elimination. The discussions around how to keep a population motivated when malaria cases are dropping were enlightening. Botswana is in a very unique position and really does have the potential to eliminate local cases of malaria.

What do you plan to do as a Malaria Coordinator?

I join a team of two incredibly motivated malaria coordinators with others from the next intake group to join us in the coming months. My strengths are in logistics and in coordinating with the NMP. I’d like to focus on further developing the relationship between Peace Corps and the NMP. PC buzzword: capacity building.

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Mike currently leads a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping initiative, utilizing GPS devices for latitude and longitude coordinates, to enhance and produce quality maps. He is offering GIS training for DHMTs, health facilities and agencies that are interested in this mapping initiative. Mike is also developing a guide to various mapping tools and data collection methods, including OSM and its wide array of features. For more information on his projects and initiatives, please contact Mike at mikebanf@gmail.com.

Posted in Botswana Tagged with: , , ,