Who we worked with:
In January of 2016 we worked with our NGO partner Red Accion in the construction of the bathrooms and the implementation of our public health workshops. We collaborated with Fundacion San Lucas to coordinate opportunities for our volunteers to work at their orphanage. Our last and newest partner was the Clinica Boliviana Americana, founded by Dr. Tim Wallace, who was so gracious as to let our volunteer come in and observe surgeries during our time in Bolivia.
Where we worked:
The area that we worked was nine kilometers outside of the city of Cochabamba, held 150 families and was called Barrio 4 de Marzo.
Bathrooms: Dry and Wet
We were able to construct 2 dry bathrooms and 6 wet bathrooms. Thanks to help of Engineer Jason Knutson we began to experiment in implementing a version of Dr. Stephen Mecca’s microflush toilets. Since this was our first attempt at implementing this device we are currently involved in an ongoing dialogue with Dr. Mecca to better our implementation tactics.
Community Health Workshops
We were able to conduct public health workshops on the following issues: maternal health, sexual health, first aid and water sanitation. The workshops were conducted in 10 different communities. The curriculum was designed to hone in on the specific issues that the women have in each of these fields and was made to be highly visual to ensure that the information would be conveyed in the best way possible.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of MIT Professor Susan Murcott we were able to conduct a series of tests on the water quality in Bolivia. Moreover, we conducted a survey to understand what locals do with their water and where they get most of their water from. The results of these surveys are still being polished and will be published as soon as possible.
Continuation of water testing research in hopes that one day we will be able to implement the appropriate technology to ensure clean, safe, sustainable drinking water
Implementation of Community Health Workers
While the public health workshops were a success over January we understand that conducting workshops two weeks out of the year is not a sustainable way to disperse information. Thus, this summer we implemented an 8 week program to train a woman from each community in health education so she can serve as a resource year round. This means that she will have to know all about the various issues of health that are relevant to Bolivia, and that she will be able to serve as a resource to the rest of the community. In this way even after we leave, the community will have someone that truly understands health and will be able to continue informing others on it.
This methodology has been proven to be sustainable in many places around the world, and we believe that it will be a long lasting way to disseminate public health information. In order to train these community health workers we conducted half day meetings twice a week for eight weeks in the different communities. We targeted 10 communities. The first of the two weekly meetings was devoted to simply teaching the information. The second of the two weekly meetings was devoted to reinforcing what was taught in the first weekly meeting and was more interactive - we asked questions and posed hypothetical situations that tested the previous weeks knowledge. This second weekly meeting turned out to be paramount in truly reinforcing the concepts and in showing each lady the practicality of her knowledge. This process occurred for six weeks. The final two weeks of the program was spent shadowing the newly trained community health workers, and accompanying them each day to make sure they were comfortable with their new roles and to ensure that the community understands what they are there for. Following this training, every year when we return, we will conduct yearly refresher sessions to keep the community health workers updated and informed.