We had an amazingly productive day today. I (Akshay) had originally planned to start doing the health surveys today, but Claudia scheduled some important meeting that I had to attend. Although I was initially disappointed about not being able to start the surveys, our meetings were very exciting and important for RB’s work in the future.
Our first meeting was at La Facultad de Enfermeria Elizabeth Seton, a nursing school in Cochabamba. We spoke with the directors and several professors of public health about the work that RB does and how a partnership with their school would increase our impact in these communities. They were particularly interested in the studies we did in January that covered water and water pollution in the communities. Since the communities that we work in are largely unrecognized by the national government, there is practically no data on those populations. The interview study that we are doing this summer will hopefully identify several of the most important health needs in the communities.
We decided that a great way to partner with the nursing school would be to have nursing students continue conducting our surveys during the year. This would significantly increase our coverage and generate more data. We will be going to the school next week to train the students on the interview procedures so that they can begin collecting data at the beginning of their next semester. I felt that this meeting really added a lot of legitimacy to our work in Cochabamba. The fact that a leading nursing school in Bolivia listened to a couple of undergrads and agreed to get involved with our work is very validating.
Our second meeting of the day was with Angelica Echalar, founder of a non-profit called Serve Abroad, dedicated to connecting the needs of impoverished communities with people who want to help. We talked about several ways RB could partner with Serve Abroad, including starting a literacy program that walks members of the community through the process of filling out paperwork for a visit to a medical clinic. These ideas are just ideas for now, but we will be working to finalize our collaboration very soon.
After our meeting, I picked up Lathan, Pomona College Coordinator, from the airport. Then, we went to the market, or “la cancha”, to start shopping for bathroom supplies.
We ended the day with a nice homecooked meal of fried rice and veggies.