I know I always talk about how great our trips are. The thing is, they all are great. Each time, we see the differences and our hearts are touched.
This trip was remarkable on too many levels to describe in one email. I'll share some quick stories, and put pictures on our Facebook page. One high point was at the Jamboree, which took place after the training. Jenneh Vandi was trained in 2009 in Daru. In 2013, she attended a continuing education course on breast health. Here is her story:
"After Mamie Mundah (Buffy Price) taught us how to check our breasts for lumps, I went to see my daughter. I was checking her breasts, telling her what I had learned. I found a lump. I checked the other breast to see if the two sides matched. The lump was not painful and was in only one breast. My daughter went right away to the doctor, and he diagnosed breast cancer. He did the surgery right away and my daughter had treatment. Now, she is healthy and strong."
Jenneh's faced glowed. And Buffy Price, a three-time volunteer, also glowed as she listened to this story. You can't assign a value to knowing you taught somebody to save a life, her daughter's life.
About 150 of the 300 women we have trained made it to the Jamboree. Getting there was a chore, as the "new, good" road was deeply rutted and muddy. We had rented trucks to transport the women, but none could make it all the way. Some made it within five miles of Pellie - the site of our first training in Sierra Leone - and some were blocked at the narrow bridge about three miles out. We've walked that road several times, and it isn't a bad walk. Our vehicle, with its 4WD-Low setting, made it all the way, with some shoveling and pushing.
We chose Pellie as the site of the Jamboree because it was our first site and we wanted to celebrate our 10th anniversary there. Pellie, noted as one of the most remote villages in Sierra Leone, set an expectation of what is accessible to MOMS. If you can get to Pellie - and out of it - you can go just about anywhere.
Pellie was proud to host the Jamboree, and Jitta (our beloved staffer) worked well with Mamie Lamin and the rest of the Leadership Council, Paramount Chief Kallon, and other community leaders to make it happen. Arranging for 150 women to come from across the river and across the country took a lot of planning. Congratulations to Jitta, Mamie, and the rest of the crew!
Attending the Jamboree was Mr Jaiyah, a member of the District Health Team. He had observed MOMS for the ten years we've worked there. He said this to the assembly:
"I always know where MOMS Community Health Workers are working. Those clinics have significantly better statistics. MOMS CHWs make a real difference."
Later, he told me, "I know when a MOMS CHW moves to a different village and starts working in the clinic. The health rates improve."
He then commented on the skits he watched the women perform, "They know so much. I should know by know how much you teach them, but I am always surprised. They know more than some of the people who are in charge of clinics."
That felt really good. He is preparing a report for the District Medical Officer, and will forward it to the DMOs in the other Districts we work in.
The Jamboree, exciting as it was with dancing and singing and skits, came after a successful class. For this class, we returned to Ngolahun, where we had built a clinic and taught a class. We invited the MOMS Leaders from the five cohorts we've taught in the Kailahun District to send a few women.Because of Ebola and the passage of time, many women we trained have died, retired, or moved away and this has left some big gaps. So we trained 22 women to fill those gaps in those five communities.
Of the 22, 16 earned an A on the final exam! Noone got less than 80%. That is a new record! We got a lot of feedback from these women that warmed our hearts:
- I was really afraid to come here, but I have learned so much about my own body and how to help others. I am so excited!
- The community asked me to come to this class and I can now pay back their trust. I am so proud of what I have learned!
- I had no idea about any of this information before now. I have learned so much, my head is about to explode!
- I am so happy to learn all this, and now I have a preceptor who will work with me so I can apply it well.
- I dropped out of primary school, and to get an A on this exam is so exciting!
They all agreed on their gratitude to us and to you for making this possible.
And before that class came a week with our four new trainers: Jitta Rogers, Lydia Thomas, Josephine Fortune, and Memunatu Bindi. I was impressed with how much they remembered from our last train-the-trainer session. As their experience of learning has been the worst stereotype of the English, Industrial, lecture-with-beatings system, they have taken to MOMS model of training with joy and a little confusion.
In addition to translating for us, they also taught several modules, with one of their colleagues translating back to English for us. They did an excellent job. In the exam, learners did as well on those modules as on the ones taught by the American trainers.
I asked Josephine about the effect of working with MOMS and using our methods. She looked at me with huge eyes. "It has chanaged my entire life. Thank you."
I am wrestling with unnamed powers in the internet world to restore our website. Until then, I'll post lots of pictures on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/GlobalMidwives
You can reach us at our personal email address, TrishMcRoss@yahoo.com
, or Chris at email@example.com
. Or call us at 707-884-3621.
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We are so thankful.
Trish and Chris
Below, Chris and Lydia teach nutrition.
Below, Trish teaches about estimating blood loss.
Below, Buffy intently watches the teaching