I’ve been putting off writing this post because I haven’t been sure what to write. I haven’t been sure what to write because I haven’t been really sure about what my exact job is. The position I am in is a new one, suggested to Peace Corps by UNICEF and WFP, but implemented without too much thought (or so I think so)! It gives me the freedom to play around with the job description but also makes it difficult to know where to start. I am lucky to have supportive and understanding staff at the WFP office here in Zwedru as well as in Monrovia!
What I have gathered is that my main job is to serve as a Nutrition Intervention (NI) focal person. WFP’s NI program provides food rations to 3 main groups: malnourished pregnant and lactating mothers and children under the age of 2 (mother and child health or MCH), people living with HIV, and TB patients. I will be assisting in identifying area clinics that are in need of these programs and training the health service providers, reproductive health workers and community volunteers in nutrition screening, growth monitoring, malnutrition referral processes and proper record keeping. From experience I know this is a lot to accomplish here in 6 months, but I will work with the CHT to prioritize and identify the areas of greatest need. When I arrived at post I was immediately told not to be ambitious! They stressed starting small so that’s what I plan on doing!
I spent all of last week tagging along with WFP’s NI program assistant, getting introduced to the people I will be working with, becoming familiarized with WFP efforts, and beginning to layout an action plan for the next few months. I will be working closely with the County Health Team at the area hospital (Martha Tubman Memorial Hospital) and eventually with other clinics in the county. There are also two local NGOs, Merlin and Tiyatien, that I hope to meet up with so we can discuss how we can collaborate. I am sure they have a ton of resources that will be helpful for me.
On Friday, I got my first hands-on experience in conducting clinic assessments for the NI programs. WFP wants to bring back the NI program for malnourished mothers and children in these facilities so we needed to identify their current caseloads to ensure that a proper amount of food is provided. I won’t say that the assessment was in any way standardized or scientific, but we did the best we could with the resources we had. We visited 3 clinics (one was 2 hours east of here, one was an hour west and one was right in town). It was great to be able to see the country outside of Zwedru. It really is beautiful here.
We crossed several wood plank bridges, through the mud, and of course stopped to buy some bush meat. The monkeys were too expensive ($1000LD or about $14USD), so we passed on them. I am forever grateful because I don’t think I could’ve ridden in the car with dead monkeys. The smell of the warm bush meat legs was enough!
This week I will continue to meet with the County Health Team to get an official action plan in place and start getting things accomplished! Stay tuned to see how this plan pans out!