Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Titties, dry monkeys, and the Bible

I returned safe and sound from Saclapea this morning (despite some crazy overloaded drivers on the road)!

We were supposed to begin each day at 8am, but it ended up being closer to 10am, actually not bad for Africa! We filled that time with bible scripture readings, prayer, and song (sung to the tune of Frere Jacques: apple, mango, apple, mango, banana, banana, we mix them all together, we mix them all together, fruit salad, fruit salad). The training was held by Equip (similar to Merlin in Grand Gedeh County) and targeted the general Community Health Volunteers (gCHVs) in the area. The focus was on malnutrition and, I quote, "titty business," a.k.a breastfeeding. For the malnutrition component we broke into groups and discussed the types of malnutrition (which is when I learned that a malnourished child looks like a "dry monkey" -another quote!), signs and symptoms, prevention methods and community beliefs (my favorite being if a woman starts to have has sex with her husband during the first 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, she will want to wean the baby too soon so she can give more attention to her husband. She will be too busy satisfying her husband to adequately nourish her baby. In other words, she'll get her priorities mixed up!). For the "titty business" component, the main take away message was, and I quote again, "only give titty water for the first 6 months." This part of the training was complete with drama and role-play that included tie-on nipples and baby dolls (they looked like voodoo dolls if you ask me). As with most trainings I've been to in Africa, we also touched on other issues such as "burying poo poo" (yes, another quote), condom use, and how Jesus' message relates to the work of a gCHV. Did you know that the concept of "burying poo poo" actually comes from the Bible? Apparently in the book of Deuteronomy (they couldnt give us an exact chapter or verse) God asked Moses to tell the people to keep his land tidy. "And from there we learned the importance of burying poo poo. In Jesus name, Amen. Hallelujah." That's actually how it happened.

Overall, it was a success. While there, I was able to visit with 2 other volunteers who are in my group, see their town, and catch up on what's been going on. Zweru is huge city compared to Saclapea and it's good to be back.

Now time to get the ball really rolling. We are approved to hold three trainings in Grand Gedeh County next week (at the 3 clinics that will be receiving the WFP food) and will likely do a moniroting visit with them the week after. Tomorrow we will start preparing our workshop schedule and flip charts for the training. I recieved all of the MUAC tapes, ledgers, and training manuals from Monrovia last week- we are just waiting for approval to use some of our petty cash to buy a little midday snack for everyone.

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