The Toughest Job You'll Ever Love...Kenya

The contents of this website are my own PERSONAL opinion. They do not reflect the opinions, policies, actions, feelings, or eating habits of the Peace Corps, the U.S. Government, any government, shadow governments, or anyone else, for that matter, but ME.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

No Hiding From The Universe

The other day I was sitting in my Supervisor's office so he could show
me a grant application. To be honest, I wasn't really in the mood to
have to deal with it, because it involves walking a fine line of being
a PCV and not being seen as a source of money, being a grant writing
machine, but also realizing that projects require funding. This is
why most veteran PCV's suggest staying away from funding issues for at
least the first 6 months. But my Supervisor completely understands my
role here, and he was only looking for a suggestion on a project to
submit with the grant.

I'll be honest, I had not one idea for the first 45 minutes of staring
at the grant form, its parameters and goals. I just sat there. Then
I had a small idea and figured that if nothing else, I tried, and if
he liked it he could run with it. I sat down, typed up a one-page
(production speak for ideas and brief details that is only one page
long) left it on his desk and went on my merry way.

He calls me and says he loves the idea and let's talk detail. Um,
what detail? I didn't even have a title for the thing.

Next day he and I go over the questions on the application and
miraculously I seem to come up with the answers. I am actually really
liking the idea by now. I'm into it and I hope we get the grant so we
can execute this workshop.

So, you wanna know what it is, well too bad, I'm gonna tell you
anyway. In Kenya there is a new-ish type of health care called Home
Based Care (HBC). As cruel as this may sound, it is care for People
Living With AIDS (PLWA's) at home for all but the direr of medical
needs. The health care system is just too over-whelmed to provide
care in hospitals, and even if it weren't, it is still too
prohibitively expensive for most to seek routine or preventive care.
HBC is provided by Community Health Workers (CHW's). CHW's are
"volunteers" (that means something completely different here) who go
through minimal training (my Red Cross training makes me better
trained) to treat and refer HBC patients. My organization has about
35 CHW's, but of those only between 5 and 10 are really active and
motivated. These (mostly) women work in their villages with little
training, no supplies and little support, at least their out there

My idea is to take these 5 or 10 active CHW's and put them through an
intensive workshop focusing on more medical training, but especially
leadership training. Women in rural Kenya are painfully shy (read
oppressed) and we have an opportunity to take these already motivated
women and provide skills and guidance. They can be CHW leaders and
mentors along with being examples to the next generation. With this
grant we'd also be able to provide them with supplies (field kits)
that would include such items as gloves, and did I mention GLOVES.

All of a sudden I'm excited about the prospect of empowering future
community leaders. So, like I said, there's no hiding from the
Universe, she'll find you whether you want her to or not.


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