Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Friday, June 7, 2013

A week in the life of a new health project volunteer

Felicity joins the GVI Kenya Health Project from Dallas, Texas.  She is spending two weeks on the project and has so far made a very big impact on a lot of people in the community, in particular the shimoni secondary life skills students.

When the GVI van, The Shrew, turned onto the brown sandy road leading to the Shimoni Village that I would be residing in over the course of my volunteering, I had no idea what to expect. However, piece by piece the life of a GVI-Kenya volunteer began to be revealed. It started with safety training, rules and guidelines, and food that was surprisingly delicious; but by Monday I was thrown into the role of a health care volunteer.

The health team by the beautifully painted health information wall
Every Sunday a chore schedule for the week is posted. I don’t use chore in a negative way; in fact it can be fun. Other volunteers are always eager and willing to help and traditional African music is in no short supply to get you through. In addition, every night the schedule is devised by the wonderful staff and recorded on the designated ‘health’ white board.

The morning starts at whatever time you need in order to be eating by 7:30; for me that means 7 o’clock. By 8 its time to hit the computer. With the community internet stick in hand myself and the other health volunteer make our way to the office and begin lesson planning for the life skills classes we teach every week. Even with the weight of our lessons importance, laughter is in no short supply. As time nears 10, the volunteers along with staff walk through the village, under trees, between fallen branches and over coral rag to the public dispensary. Like any other journey through the village GVI is welcomed with so many ‘Jambos’ that I am almost certain that I’ve said hi to every individual in Shimoni.

At the dispensary we assist with whatever is needed; whether that is baby weight and growth monitoring, reception, or book keeping. Around noon we head back to our quaint living arrangements and make lunch.

By 2 we are back to work again going over the lesson for the afternoon class. The staff looks over our lesson plan and we smooth out some possible bumps. This week we taught a primary level course on “How to Say No”.  The children are always full of smiles and are always itching to be the first responder. Having the ability to teach the children of Shimoni how to live a healthy life through various life skills is a critical element to the work we do to promote healthy living.

Following the lesson the health program works on research such as the Moringa Tree, organize health program information or work on the Life Skills Package that we are planning to send to teachers around the area that will give them all the lesson plans they need to teach what we are teaching in order to sustain the teaching and practice of healthy living.

Volunteers Felicity and Jackson at the Shimoni Dispensary

In addition to our lessons, research, and work in the dispensary we also teach a computer literacy class. Each day we teach community leaders so that they can teach others and provide sustainable skill building. Myself and another volunteer, Jackson, teach the computer class from 5-6. When we return we are cooked (or do cook) another tasty meal and attend debrief where we have the opportunity to hear about the other programs’ day and talk about the plan for the following day.

Once all has been completed the 13 volunteer/staff household eat, talk, laugh, and play karim (a house legend). Even though my time so far has been short, the days that have been filled by new friends, community, skill building, experience and a chance to enhance the lives of those around me, are the days that are a life well lived.

Felicity Harries – Health Project Volunteer