Mozambique Weekly Awesome: “Tatu Luta Contra a Malaria”

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In April 2014, Peace Corps Mozambique received a generous donation of 1,000 Malaria booklets from Novartis Pharma AG. The booklets tell the story, “Tatu luta contra a malaria” (Tatu fights against malaria), showing the story of a young girl who gets malaria and then goes to the hospital to get treatment, it’s written in Portuguese.

Peace Corps Mozambique has been working hard over the past six months to utilize the booklets as much as possible.  The booklets are available at each of the regional offices for Peace Corps Volunteers to take and use in school libraries, with youth groups and at community trainings. For example, one volunteer, Sam Loftus in Maputo Province, put 12 copies of the booklets in his school’s library. He was thrilled because this was one of the first times that there would be more than just one copy of a book available in the library. Many Education Volunteers are involved with starting libraries in their communities so the Tatu booklets have been a great addition. Another volunteer, Adela Hoffman in Inhambane Province, used 10 copies of the booklets to do malaria activities at the preschool where she was volunteering.

Two copies of the booklets are being given out to Volunteers at any IST Conference.

The Malaria Task Force has included the booklets into all community malaria awareness training of trainers currently being done. Two copies are distributed to each participant at the trainings. On the first day of the training the participants homework assignment is to read the booklet and then on the second day we review the booklet as a group by completing the quiz in the back of the booklet.  The participants are encouraged to use the booklet as their guide for promoting malaria prevention and awareness in their communities. It is a great resource for community health workers to demonstrate to families the importance of going to the hospital and completing the treatment for malaria. In total, over 115 booklets have been distributed through community malaria awareness training of trainers thus far.

And most recently, PC Mozambique was able to distribute 100 copies of the booklets to children in attendance at the annual Timbila Festival in Quissico, Inhambane.

While we have been able to hand out about half of the booklets, there are still about half to be distributed. In order to continue distributing the booklets, Peace Corps Mozambique will continue to distribute to volunteers at volunteer trainings and conferences. And in November, just before the rainy season hits here in Mozambique, Peace Corps Mozambique will be running a Malaria Awareness Month, a competition amongst the three different regions in Mozambique to see who can do the most malaria activities within the month. The booklets will still be available at all regional offices and promoted as a useful tool to incorporate into their malaria prevention and education activities planned.

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Former National Malaria Coordinator, Hannah Koehn, uses the Tatu booklets at a community malaria TOT in Fidel Castro, Gaza Province.

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Students in Tete Province reading the Tatu booklets. Peace Corps Volunteers use the books as a resource in their classrooms and school libraries.

 

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

Mozambique Weekly Awesome: Positivo Malaria Music in Gaza

Positivo Workshop in Manjacaze

Youth in Gaza Province have been busy taking a musical stand against Malaria.

Youth groups in Chibuto, Chidenguele, Manjacaze and Xai-Xai have created their own original music working with Positivo, an association based in Inhambane that creates music for raising awareness about Health and Social matters. Positivo promotes positive learning opportunities to young people from the remote areas of Mozambique and other neighboring countries in Southern Africa.

Each of the songs were created in four days. First, the youth were introduced to the musical talents of Positivo, usually through a concert setting at their school. Then, the youth attended a one-day seminar on malaria provided by Peace Corps Volunteers. After the youth groups worked with Peace Corps Volunteers and Positivo to create, write and record the original music. The music was shared on the radio, via telephones and flash drives and at local events. Now, you can even find them on Youtube. Some of the groups are already working on other songs using other health topics.

But, don’t take our word for it.

Check out the latest original tunes about Malaria!

Posted in Mozambique, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Mozambique Weekly Awesome: An Interactive Training of Trainers

In Mozambique, malaria is the #1 cause of death. For the past seven years the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative has supported the Mozambican Ministry of Health and the National Malaria Control Program in mass net distributions. This year, they ensured every home received a net for each sleeping space in the selected distribution area.

The Mechanhelas community was a recipient of the treated nets and through past trainings knew the importance of correct and consistent use of treated nets as a preventative measure against malaria. What else can PCVs do to reduce the malaria burden in Mozambique?

PCVs Alice Burt and Angela Nguyen facilitated a 2-day Malaria Training of Trainers (TOT) in Mecanhelas, Niassa to equip 15 community members with the knowledge to visit individual homes to help hang nets and answer any questions members of each home might have about malaria. The 1st day of the training was focused on malaria transmission, signs and symptoms, treatment and prevention. The 2nd day was focused on having the community members develop an action plan to fight malaria in their community. The training included a lot of hands on activities including how to hang a mosquito net. So while it was an informative training, it was also a fun hands-on packed two days!

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The participants of the TOT

PCV Alice Burt demonstrating the importance of having everyone sleeping under a bed net

PCV Alice Burt demonstrating the importance of having everyone sleeping under a bed net

Racing against the other team to finish the sequence first

Racing against the other team to finish the sequence first. One of the many malaria activities they played.

Brainstorming and developing an action plan

Brainstorming and developing an action plan

Presenting their plans to the group

Presenting their plans to the group

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Posted in Mozambique, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Mozambique Weekly Awesome: Grassroot Soccer Workshop

Volunteers Erin Sodawasser and Joe Kleinschmidt work with counterparts on brainstorming qualities of a good facilitator

This past week Mozambique held it’s first Grassroot Soccer Training of Trainers (TOT) in Chizavane,Gaza. Three members of the Grassroots Soccer staff flew from South Africa to train nine Peace Corps volunteer’s and their counterparts from across the country on the implementation of the PC SKILLZ. The training was amazing, it introduced volunteers and counterparts to the Grassroot Soccer PC SKILLZ curriculum and equipped them with the tools to be a PC SKILLZ coach.  It was an action packed four days filled with singing, dancing, KILOS and gaining knowledge on HIV/AIDS and Malaria. By the end of the TOT all participants said that they felt confident they would now be able to implement the  Grassroots Soccer program with youth in their communities.

PCV Katelyn Dzialowy and  Thomas Lee Jr. practice their acting skills with the 'Red Card' malaria lesson

PCV Katelyn Dzialowy and Thomas Lee Jr. practice their acting skills with the ‘Red Card’ malaria lesson

Each practice ends with a 'power word' that sums up the day's lesson

Each practice ends with a ‘power word’ that sums up the day’s lesson

Volunteers Erin Sodawasser and Joe Kleinschmidt work with counterparts on brainstorming qualities of a good facilitator

Volunteers Erin Sodawasser and Joe Kleinschmidt work with counterparts on brainstorming qualities of a good facilitator

Participants learned how to do a proper bed net demonstration

Participants learned how to do a proper bed net demonstration

Everyone had fun in the sun doing the 'Bed Net Ball' malaria lesson

Everyone had fun in the sun doing the ‘Bed Net Ball’ malaria lesson

 

Posted in Mozambique, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Mozambique Weekly Awesome: Malaria Awareness at Timbila Festival

Peace Corps Mozambique Malaria Booth at Timbila Festival 2014.

Every year in Quissico, Inhambane the Timbila Festival is celebrated the last weekend of August. The Timbila Festival (M’saho) – a local tradition, has turned into a national event. The Timbila itself is a xylophone made up of wooden slats of the sneezewort tree called “mhwnjhe” in Chopi (the local dialect), and dried masala fruit shells “calabashes” as resonators. Every August for the past 18 years, people travel from far and wide to listen to the Timbila’s in the central amphitheater of Quissico, located at the overlook for the lagoon. It is a fantastic, culturally rich festival located in a small town with a gorgeous view.

This year, Peace Corps Mozambique hosted a booth with JICA at the Timbila Festival and promoted some of the work volunteers are doing in country. The booth was dual purposed: selling crafts and goods from local groups and malaria awareness and prevention education. Volunteers organized activities for all age groups attending the festival. Over 500 kids joined volunteers under mosquito nets to color pages from a malaria prevention themed coloring book. We asked the adult attendees to mark whether they had malaria and if they slept under a mosquito net to emphasize the correlation between having malaria and regularly sleeping under a treated net.

It was a buzz all day long. Pun intended.

We held Malaria Trivia every 30 minutes and the winner of the trivia was given a treated mosquito net, but only after they signed a contract agreeing to use and take care of their net properly. Kids played “Pin the mosquito net on the bed” and 100 kids left with a story book telling the story of a young girl fighting malaria. Two volunteers were interviewed by the local radio about Peace Corps and ways to prevent malaria. It was a full day of activities that helped remind community members the importance of sleeping under treated nets to prevent malaria.

Check out the pictures below. It was AWESOME.

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Maria Pearson, Malaria Task Force Member, helps a friend play “Pin the Mosquito Net on the Bed” at the Amizava Festival.

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About 20 Mozambique Health and Education Peace Corps Volunteers worked a booth at the Amizava Festival, promoting secondary projects and malaria awareness.

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Volunteers distributed 20 treated mosquito nets throughout the day. A net was distributed every 30 minutes to the winner of a short malaria trivia game. After receiving the net, the winner had to sign a contract agreeing to using the net correctly.

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The Amizava Festival in Quissico, Inhambane, Mozambique.

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Throughout the Festival, kids came to the Peace Corps booth and colored pages of mosquitos, bed nets and malaria prevention underneath a mosquito net.

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Volunteers also distributed 100 copies of the storybook, “Tatu luta contra a malaria”.

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Maria and more kids coloring under the net. How many children can fit under one net?!

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Colleen Huysman, STOMP Malaria National Coordinator, and a group of festival go-ers who participated in one of the trivia games to win a mosquito net.

Posted in Mozambique, Weekly Awesome Tagged with: , ,

Uganda Weekly Awesome: Big Books Can Make a Big Impact

Teaching using a big book about proper net care and repair to P3 pupils in Uganda.

Education PCVs Kate Roesch and Eric Grayson teaching using a big book about proper net care and repair to P3 pupils in Uganda.

Sometime it’s hard to incorporate malaria prevention into areas other than in the Health sector. In Uganda, malaria is the number one cause of death, as well as being the leading reason why pupils and students miss school. To combat this, Uganda had its first national distribution of long lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs). At the beginning of the year, there was a LLIN distribution in the Eastern part of Uganda. To increase care and usage of the nets in her community, education PCV Kate Roesch created a book about mosquito net care and repair, using local materials, to teach at a local primary school with her site mate PCV Eric Grayson. The book was used to teach malaria prevention to Primary 1- Primary 3 (1st grade – 3rd grade) pupils.

At the time of instruction, there were student teachers from a Primary Teachers College who were practicing to become teachers. Eric and Kate utilized the student teachers during the lessons as translators to increase comprehension, because these classrooms are taught in local language until Primary 4 (4th grade). The student teachers were also taught how to use the books demonstrated to teach a content area lesson.

At the beginning of the lesson, Eric and Kate asked the pupils a variety of questions to test what knowledge pupils had about mosquito net care and repair. Questions were asked about the kind of soap that should be used, where LLINs should dry after washing, as well as what should be done to an LLIN with holes. For some of the questions, the percentage of pupils who answered correctly was less than 17%. While reading the book, Kate and Eric focused on making sure the pupils understood the story by asking questions with help from the student teachers.

P3 pupils acting as mosquitoes in a net repair game waiting on instruction from Education PCV Eric Grayson.

P3 pupils acting as mosquitoes in a net repair game waiting on instruction from Education PCV Eric Grayson.

After reading the story, the pupils were taken outside to play a game to show the importance of patching a torn net. Pupils were divided into two teams: mosquitoes and a mosquito net. The job of the mosquitoes was to try to give the teacher “sleeping inside the net” malaria. The game was played in three rounds. The first round the pupils who were the net held hands and the mosquitoes were not able to make the teacher sick. The second round holes were created by making some of the pupils let go of their hands allowing the mosquitoes to give the teacher malaria. The third round began with the pupils discussing what could be done to prevent the mosquitoes from getting through the net. The teacher led them to the response of patching the net with needle and thread. After patching the net with pieces of rope, the net protected the teacher from contracting malaria. After the game, Eric and Kate led the pupils through a discussion of the game and a problem solving/brainstorming session of what worked and did not work to prevent malaria.

After the discussion, the pupils again responded to the questions from the beginning of class to determine their level of learning. The pupils showed improvement, to varying degrees, by answering the questions correctly. The question where the pupils showed the most improvement after reading was: “What kind of soap should be used to wash your net?” It increased by 41% in Primary 1, 60% in Primary 2 and an astounding 92% in Primary 3.

Utilizing books to teach about malaria prevention in schools can help children make better life choices and inform others. Who knows… these books may even change the future generations thinking and eliminate Malaria from Uganda. Amazing!

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

Uganda Weekly Awesome: Nightwatch Surprises

PCVs teaching Night Watch in P7

PCVs teaching Night Watch in P7

Working as a health volunteer with a local NGO, I didn’t think I would have many opportunities to work in or appreciate the Ugandan school system. Boy, was I wrong. Back in April, I participated in World Malaria Month. One of my major programs was implementing the Night Watch Curriculum in two primary schools in my community. I partnered with an education volunteer and we took the primary 7 (7th grade) classes by storm!

After teaching the first stream, many students asked when I was coming back to teach the other classes. Luckily, I had formed a friendship with the headmaster and science teacher and they welcomed me back with open arms to implement the Night Watch curriculum in the other two streams.

Malaria Song taught to P7 students

Malaria Song taught to P7 students

Each time I taught the class, I adapted the Night Watch curriculum to what I thought would benefit the kids the most. We started each class with a pre-test. I was pleasantly surprised when Class Y had 29 out of 54 students achieving 15/15 on their pre-test, making it the class with the highest number of perfect scores. At this particular school, the streams are based on exam scores. The last stream, or Class Y, was supposed to be the “slower learners” or the ones who performed the worst on their exams.

I found myself enjoying this class and the students the most during the course of the week. We discussed malaria facts on Tuesday and mosquito net facts on Wednesday. Each student made a Malaria Fact Book to take home and use to teach other family members. Thursday was creativity day. The students created dream banners to help remind them of their future aspirations. We discussed how malaria could destroy our dreams and our future if we didn’t prevent it in our communities and our own lives.

Friday was the last day of the course. The students took the post-test with massive improvements from Monday. Again, class Y was the highest scoring and the most improved. After the exam, I taught the students a malaria song created by an RPCV, the song was definitely the highlight of the week and the students were able to perform for some of their teachers. Never underestimate what the power of a smiling P7 student can do to you. This was by far one of the most rewarding weeks of my service.

P7 students proudly displaying their dream banners

P7 students proudly displaying their dream banners

 

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

Uganda Weekly Awesome: Malaria Awareness Week

Oh Uganda! The land of beautiful scenery, friendly people, and let’s not forget, ravenous mosquitoes. In our beloved corner of East Africa, it is not uncommon for a Peace Corps volunteer to awaken each morning to a battalion of mosquitoes patiently waiting outside of one’s bed net, quietly humming with the hope of retrieving a nutritious blood-fueled breakfast from their unfortunate victim. With a vampirish thirst and an ability to spread infection quite rapidly, mosquitoes in Uganda are more than just a nuisance, but a very real, and sometimes fatal, danger to those who reside here. Unfortunately, Malaria continues to be the leading cause of sickness and death in Uganda, especially with regards to children under the age of 5 years. But, in the face of these grim statistics, many Peace Corps Volunteers have sought to help put an end to this very preventable disease through the power of education.

In the northern reaches of the country, PCV Emily Cobbs spends her days teaching Math and ICT to her students at St. John Bosco Core Primary Teachers College. However, after a few months at her site, she quickly realized the vast amount of misinformation that seemed to permeate her campus about Malaria and it’s causes. “[I wanted to] inform the student body of Malaria facts and dispel any myths they held”, she writes. And so, with the help of her counterpart, Emily decided to organize a week of activities during the month of April dedicated to this goal.

On the first day of her “Malaria Awareness Week”, Emily invited a local Health Officer from Yumbe Hospital to come speak with her students about the causes of Malaria, how it is spread, preventive measures one can take to protect themselves from infection, as well as options for treatment. Armed with this new wealth of information, Emily then used her knowledge and love of drama to help her students create dramatic skits representing various myths and facts about Malaria. During this activity, Emily addressed many misconceptions that her students seemed to have about this disease, including the idea that Malaria can be spread from parent to child, as well as through saliva and sexual contact. However, one of the most alarming myths surrounding Malaria that Emily discovered was the notion that sleeping under a mosquito net can result in cancer.

As one of the leading ways to prevent contracting this disease, the idea that individuals in Uganda were avoiding the use of mosquito nets and risking their well-being based on misinformation was concerning. As such, Emily decided to address this issue by dedicating a large portion of her Malaria activities on demonstrating the proper way to wash, repair, and hang a mosquito net from a 4-poster bed, as well as from a single point in the ceiling (as is the preferred method in many circular huts or where beds are not available)

Following this activity, Emily created a fun role-playing scenario where she invited her students to pose as nurses, local health authorities, doctors, politicians, etc. and host their own pretend “Radio Show” for their peers. Students in the audience were encouraged to “call in” to their classmates’ “Radio Show” and ask for their expertise regarding a variety of questions about Malaria. As Emily says, “[my students] unironically love drama and skits and music here, which I love.”

As the week finally came to an end, Emily joined with herfellow tutors to host a “Game Show” program in order to quiz her students on what they had learned during the week’s activities. She discovered great strides made by her students regarding their knowledge of Malaria and its causes. “The entire week was exhausting”, she writes, “but the results were good. [...] While I’m thrilled with all the things I did, I look forward to doing more, multiple times a year.” In Peace Corps Uganda, we are very happy to have many dedicated volunteers like Emily serving to make their corner of Africa a little better each day.

Posted in Uganda, Weekly Awesome

Uganda Weekly Awesome: Using Visual Messaging to Increase Awareness

The students with their mural.

Written by Megan Carroll

We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This is especially true when creating effective health messaging. Murals are an excellent way to provide a message, regardless of someone’s literacy or educational level. In my village in southwestern Uganda, murals are gaining in popularity and impact.

The original mural painted at the health center

The original mural painted at the health center

During this years’ world malaria month, I worked with some of my coworkers and community members to create a malaria awareness mural, encouraging families to sleep under mosquito nets. We painted our message in both local language and in English, to ensure the language barrier would not be a factor for those that are literate. The mural was a success right from the beginning- as we painted, crowds formed around to see what we were doing.

Now that it is completed, people comment as they pass by it. People have even mentioned the mural to me while I am in the village, outside of the health center. School headmasters even commented how they wished they had something like that at their school. I jumped at this opportunity to spread awareness in other places.

Building on the popularity of the mural, I arranged with the headmaster of the local senior secondary school to create a malaria awareness mural in a public area on the school grounds. To best involve students, we decided to choose the deign by holding an art contest among students. Students in art classes were given the assignment to create an image for the message: “Prevent Malaria! A student without malaria is happy and healthy.” The students decided as a group which design they would use, and were anxious to get to work. They completed the mural over one weekend, and the students and staff were excited about the new edition to their school. In my community, we have arranged to paint two more murals with students once the new term begin- one at a primary school, and another at an all girls’ senior secondary school.

In Uganda, it is common at school to see small signs with sayings, called “talking schools.” While they technically provide a message, they are also very easy to dismiss, and they are small and not visually attractive (not to mention, I’ve never seen a malaria related one!). By using visuals to aid in message delivery, they create much more attention and discussion. Additionally, it gives those involved a sense of pride in the positive impact they are making in their communities, which only motivates us more to continue painting the town!

Posted in Uganda, Weekly Awesome

Land of the…. Mosquitoes?

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Chobe District, nicknamed the “Land of the Giants,” for its dense elephant population, shifted its focus to something smaller, much smaller, this past rainy season when people had to be extra vigilant about avoiding mosquitoes – in addition to the wandering elephants. As the malaria case numbers rose, so did the need for a comprehensive community response. The Botswana Red Cross Society, an important partner in Botswana’s fight against malaria, has been working to support prevention efforts across the country and within the Chobe District. Erica Johnson, a Red Cross-Kasane Peace Corps Volunteer and her counterpart Taboka Rotsi collaborated with the District Health Management Team (DHMT) to distribute an emergency relief supply of long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) to one of the most at risk populations in the district – orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs).

However, Erica and Taboka quickly realized that many nets remained under utilized, misused or unused and reached out to STOMP Coordinator Kim True to brainstorm ways to increase their impact within the community. With the shared belief that malaria education should be fun, personalized and action-oriented, they decided to expand upon their already existing mentorship program. This program, which matches OVC families with an exemplary young person who acts as a personal guide, presented a perfect opportunity to build capacity. The idea was to teach the mentors who in turn would be responsible for sharing their new knowledge with their OVC family. Rocking her malaria themed life cycle couture, Kim trained the mentors on prevention, signs and symptoms and proper bed net hang up, use and care. She also assisted them in creating their own malaria life cycle dress in Setswana, the language in which they conduct their health education sessions. The mentors left the training “buzzzzzing” with excitement and ready to share their gained knowledge and skills.

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One of the Red Cross Mentors stylin’ in her Malaria Life Cycle Dress in front of PC Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, PCV Erica Johnson and Counterpart Taboka Rotsi

The mentors were able to showcase their skills in action when Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, Africa Region Director Dick Day and Country Director Tim Hartman visited the Kasane region. On site visits with each of their assigned families, they gave a brief malaria information session followed by a net distribution and demonstration. The fact that the mentors had established relationships with the families enabled them to enter the homes of the caretakers and help hang the nets over the beds thus increasing the likelihood of net uptake, as well as ensuring proper use. The mentors have continued to follow up since to make sure the nets are still being used properly.

PCV Erica, a Red Cross family and a properly hung mosquito net in the background

PCV Erica, a Red Cross family and a properly hung mosquito net in the background

In the words of PCV Erica, “it is this kind of integrated approach to malaria education that helps to ensure that the people that most need protection are, indeed, protected. By educating first we were able to stress the severity of this illness and the fact that it is preventable. Then, following up with a net demonstration and distribution, we were able to ensure that the families had the tools they needed to stay safe. Finally, by physically helping the beneficiaries find a way to hang their new net in their home (and in some instances providing hooks to hang them as well), we were able to better ensure proper use of the nets. Malaria is completely preventable if the correct steps are taken.” The Red Cross’ comprehensive solution to some of the more common barriers of correct, consistent bed net usage is inspiring and replicable. Finding ways to creatively increase the capacity of existing programs is part of the path towards a malaria free Botswana.

Posted in Botswana