Thursday, August 12, 2010

Patiently Pushing

Two staff members from Peace Corps Monrovia came for an advisory meeting today. I really appreciated these visits in Zambia and I feel the same way here. It's a nice feeling to know you haven't been forgotten in the bush and someone really is supervising and supporting you! The meeting was a place for me to openly talk about my frustrations, mini-successes and get clarification where needed. As I've mentioned before, I've been having a hard time straightening out my job description: "Community Health Educator/Organizer", "Nutrition Intervention focal person", Peace Corps volunteer, and WFP/UNICEF partner. I was gratefully reminded that this is a new position, and as the holder of this new 'undefined' position, I am to 'patiently push' to get things moving (basically do what I can, where I can, when I can, but don't expect huge change right away! The story of work in Africa.). I see this as an opportunity to shape the future of Peace Corps (especially in the community health sector) in Liberia. I hope to experience enough in the next few months to be able to offer suggestions about what works and what doesn't, who to work with and who not to work with, where to focus the work and where to back off some. We laughed today about the next volunteer having it easy since all the dirty work will be done- although I am sure that volunteer will beg to differ!
After our initial meeting we went to the hospital to meet with the County Health Team.I learned today (its amazing how easily this information came today even though I have been pulling teeth for 3 weeks to get it!) that only 60 of the 100 community health volunteers have been trained in the diarrhea module (Liberia is in the midst of creating a Basic Health Care Package that contains training modules for all of the major health issues such as diarrhea, malaria, nutrition etc. The MOH is supposed to ensure that health care workers are trained as each module is created. My thoughts on how efficient this process is is something to be discussed at another time!), so I am certainly going to jump on the opportunity to reach the 40 volunteers who have yet to be trained. The reason they only got through half of the volunteers is, not surprisingly, lack of funding. I'm hoping to network with the organization who conducted the first training (Merlin: to see what we can do to get things moving again. Its time to be resourceful.
In the meanwhile, I will continue the work that I am doing with WFP and hope that our Grand Gedeh training plan goes off as planned, or at least as close to planned as one can ask for here!

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