Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Summer Serve and Learn 2011: Malaria Prevention

Mabel, Lauren, Alexsa, Jim, and Erin at The Lover's Inn (with Sister Comfort in the background)
The Lover's Inn, located a few meters down the road from the iconic GHEI logo, has hosted many of GHEI's social events since volunteers began arriving back in 2004.  Proprietor Sister Comfort's generous and infectious laughter has stayed with many of the volunteers as they recollect their times in Humjibre.  Sister Comfort also has a small bit in the GHEI documentary shot by Fernando Sapelli (which everyone should check out at our YouTube Channel (Social Network Synergy!))

The 2011 Serve and Learn: Malaria Prevention volunteers gathered at The Lover's Inn with the Community Health Workers (CHW) this last week to celebrate the completion of their surveying of the Humjibre and Kojina community's bednet usage.  This group of CHW was augmented by GHEI volunteer teachers, members of the Health and Education teams. A feeling of camaraderie was palpable, as volunteers and CHWs were partnered to do the survey in teams.  

GHEI has distributed insecticide treated bednets to every sleeping area in Humjibre and neighbouring village Kojina, a mighty task, but now comes the mightier task of follow up and gathering information on how those bednets are being used.  The detailed survey is now in Twi, making the work a touch smoother.  An announcement was made on the loudspeaker that surveyors may be visiting households in Humjibre, so be prepared!  And they were. Some volunteers found that people had stayed home from work just to get a chance to answer questions. “That would never happen in the States!” was the volunteer consensus on this.  Not every community in Ghana is like Humjibre either...
(l-r) Anissa, Mabel, Isaac, Brown, Erin, and Lawrence

As well as celebrating a job well done, the volunteers got together as a group to award service from the CHW's.  Most Accurate was Degraft; the best attendance was Mensah; the biggest interview was completed by Christina; the fastest surveyor was (Captain) Saga; in support of this group, were Serve and Learn Volunteers Jim Ohliger and Kari Fish.  Most experienced was Aggie (with 6 years of CHW experience!); most improved was Shadrack; most outgoing was Happy (which wasn’t a surprise to anyone who knows him); the best dressed was Lydia (good impressions are lasting ones after all); they were accompanied by Alexsa Grant and Lauren Nichols.  The best attitude was Isaac; most positive was Mabel; most completed surveys was Brown (FYI, Brown has three jobs and is applying for university. No flies on him!); most patient was Lawrence, the librarian, (who has had his patience tried by fire in the sweaty literary mania called the Read-A-Thon); this group was helped by Anissa Taylor and Erin Rosen. 

Although the experience of being welcomed into people's homes willingly and warmly, definitely stuck with the volunteers, the bonding with the CHWs on their assignment is what really moved the volunteers.  “It was really enjoyable,” said Kari.  “It was a humbling experience, because they all have so many roles in the community, and they’re all taking time to volunteer as well,” said Erin. “It was a good way to get to know them as well,” according to Kari. Erin added, “I can’t believe how frequently people laugh around here!”
(l-r) Shadrack, Lydia, Alexsa, Lauren, and Aggie

The Lover's Inn had brought everyone together again, across continents and cultures, just as it has done many times before, but the close relationships on display were formed in teamwork, and a shared vision for the importance of the work they are doing.  

Of course, the work of entering all this data still remained...

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