A few weeks ago, Stomp Out Malaria wrapped up its 16th Boot Camp in Senegal. It welcomed 38 Peace Corps volunteers as well as a few staff members from 14 different African countries: Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Togo, & Zambia. The group was joined by an array of guest speakers via video chat that gave informative presentations and granted the group the opportunity to ask important questions. The list of topics covered included the entomology of a mosquito, malaria treatment & prophylaxis, the future of malaria vaccines, and malaria in terms of pregnancy as well as HIV/AIDS. Among many doctors who worked for various organizations like the CDC, PMI, & John Hopkins University, the group was honored to speak with Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer who has led the President’s Malaria Initiative for the last decade. The volunteers also worked closely with the Peace Corps Office of Innovation.
Over the course of the boot camp, the volunteers continued to familiarize themselves with building CommCare apps that would make maintaining medical records more accessible to those working in the field with limited resources. They also discovered the benefits of ongoing global mapping projects. These maps have not only assisted aid workers during environmental disasters, but can also be utilized for bed net distribution which is a key factor in malaria prevention. Bed net distribution and other issues when promoting malaria prevention in a community, were thoroughly detailed in discussions and brainstormed for solutions by the participants. The volunteers enjoyed hands-on activities presented by Grassroots Soccer that they can take with them as fun learning tools to use during their service. To end the day smaller groups gathered during the evening session to hold engaging conversations on the case study reading materials.
Each country group was also responsible for an in-depth presentation about the malaria situation in their host country and the current measures being taken against the disease. Some of the volunteers, also gave a separate presentation to share some of their country’s best practices in hopes of passing them along to the other attending countries. One of the more inspiring moments during the conference, was a field trip to an organization created by a local Senegalese man who had lost his daughter to malaria and he had successfully motivated his village to take measures to “Stomp Out” malaria in their area as well as several nearby communities.
While enjoying the culture and food of Senegal during the long days of sessions, the volunteers were able to share and collaborate ideas as well as build connections that will help further assist their malaria-fighting work. We anticipate great stories of success ahead from them! Stay tuned for another post about the congressional delegates that visited Stomp Out Malaria Boot Camp XVI for the afternoon!