Summary Report of Six Weeks of Volunteering
February 26, 2008
When I arrived in Tanzania, I first noted the darkness. No street lights. Very little traffic at such a late hour. As I conclude my stay, I must note that I have indeed “seen the light” . . . in the form of a dedicated project director and a staff working towards awareness of survival of mothers and their children.
Though the five-year project focuses on health (and we all know I'm NOT a doctor), as a communicator and educator, I easily found a role. Over the course of the six weeks I served with Minnesota International Health Volunteers I:
Tutored one young woman on writing and another two on intensive Powerpoint training. Worked with four others on some aspects of Powerpoint
Presented two presentations to staff – one on planning and one on Powerpoint
Scanned and created Powerpoints (so we could print out slides as flip charts) on Safe Motherhood and Home-Based Life-Saving Skills. Helped do some laminating of what will be 85 sets of 67 pages.
Created Powerpoint presentations and suggested learning activities for MAISHA and Drug Shop Keeper training
Working with doctors, developed a picture-based simplified partograph for TBAs to use on the field
Wrote two news features and two press releases
Consulted with communication staff on marathon preparation & planning
Designed logo for health communication plan and accompanying interpretive presentation
Tweaked and developed logo for marathon t-shirt
Consulted with project management in weeklong appointments with nationally-based business leaders seeking marathon sponsorship
Proposed potential curriculum outline for volunteer orientation
Developed series of templates for MIHV presentations
Compiled file of teaching pictures for use in later presentations
Here’s hoping that the light that this relatively small group of people shines forth extends even further and brighter in the future. They have already surpassed one five-year goal in that rather than train 90 village health workers in five years, they’ve already certified more than 150! Their education efforts have translated into an almost complete reversal of the dispensing of dangerous (though profitable) half dosages out of some tested drug shops. And they are planning on raising awareness of malaria with a first-ever-in-this-district-half marathon! Add a three week training that will offer home-based life-saving skills and a strategy for multiplying that learning across not just the district but the country and well . . . even in rainy season, you’ll need shades.
For those of you reading this blog post who have heeded my pleas for funds in the past, I hope you’ve stayed with me long enough to pay attention one more time. If you make a donation to a group this small you add immediately and significantly to their incredible impact. To give some financial support, make donations to Minnesota International Health Volunteers, 122 West Franklin Ave., Suite 510, Minneapolis, MN 55404 (and note on the check that it's for Tanzania). Or check out their website for needs you might turn into volunteer opportunities (they could use office support, documentary filmmakers, trainers, writers, computer experts, and more!) at www.mihv.org.
My plane leaves tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. About 24 hours later, but around 1:30 p.m. Thursday, I land in Houston with enough warmth in my soul to illuminate anyone who cares to listen, to see a few photos, and to catch up. Until then, I close with a phrase I've employed continuously since arriving, "Asante sana." To whoever is paying attention, "thank you very much".