Friday the 13th and our Open House

 

Friday the thirteenth, the day we were all expecting with a strange mix of excitement and dread. We were super excited about Healthy Living’s open house. The open house was HL’s closing event, where we would be showcasing what the team and the community members had been working on together for the past few weeks. On the other hand we were dreading two things: the bad luck of a Friday the 13th- which fortunately waited until the event was finished to manifest- and, more than anything, we dreaded the thought of having to say goodbye to the people of Chaquizhca, Guara and Bella Maria. People who had so warmly opened their homes, schools, and their hearts to us.

We arrived very early in the morning to set everything up, gosh I had like 300 drawings from the story telling and participatory project I was working on at the local schools. Lucky for me the children arrived shortly and came to my rescue. Later, some folks from our french ally institution Tsiky Tzanaka joined in, and we were done in the nick of time. The party started at around 10 in the morning, it was the perfect mix of a cultural fair and a gathering between good friends. There were booths with local produce and crafts, others with some creative work from the members of the HL team, and some from local partners and institutions. There were interactive activities like the solar clock, which aimed to show community members traditional alternatives to new technologies that have been forgotten; the family photo booth and community photo shows; the balance and jumping ropes for the children. I was in charge of the children’s room, where the drawings from the story telling and participatory sketching activities were showcased, along with art projects from the children’s class work. It was a very nice experience, having people come and explaining what the children and I had worked on for the entire month, why it was relevant and what was next.

Later on, there were performances from the children and community members. The best moment for me was when I found out the community members had set up a snack post with traditional Latin-American delights like empanadas and salchi-papas (fries and wienies); I always loved those back in Colombia and had missed them a lot. We concluded the event with a nice lunch and warm goodbyes. The children asked me “Lily, Lily!!! are you coming back next year?” I smiled cautiously and answered “God willing, I will try ” I was sad about the uncertainty of it all, but I felt worse about people who were probably asked the same question, but knew for sure they were not coming back. Still, whether we planned on coming back or not, we hoped that the communities had found our presence as enjoyable as we had found their company, and that our work had impacted their lives at least half as much as it did our souls.

Going home, Friday the 13th started kicking in: two vans had flat tires, we encountered all kinds of crazy stuff on the road, but at the end of the day there was nothing but satisfaction in the memory of that day. As we shared dinner and drinks we also shared warm and happy memories, funny anecdotes and jokes about some not so pleasant experiences. The open house had closed, but we hope that the hearts we tried to reach during our time there would remain open.

Apart from the display of children’s drawings, there are also other booths of Clinic, Entomology, Mammal, Entomology, Healthy Living, and some agriculture products and souvenirs bought to the Open House by local people. Let’s see what we have for the day.

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Link to the original post: http://oueduabroad.wordpress.com/2012/07/27/open-houses-open-hearts-and-bitter-sweet-farewells/

Work hard, play harder!!! – A day with clinic team

One of the critical activities and components of Tropical Disease Institute’s Summer Program is health research, which is conducted by Clinic team. They have been working hard this whole week to set up the lab in and invite local people in Melva Usaime and Usaime communities to come and check for disease, not only Chagas disease but also overall health condition. After health checking, they also get consultation from our doctors to see what they should take for medication to improve their health condition.

Explaining the health checking process and getting signatures for consent forms

Local people waiting for health checking

The day started with setting up the lab and reception table for people who come for clinical test. They are first explained what the test is for and is asked for consent before taking their blood samples. Once they have understood the purpose of the research and agree to participate, they will sign in two copies of consent forms, with one for participant and one for our record. Children who are accompanied by their parents are also asked for their parents’ consent to take part in the research. A lot of people come with their children who are too small to understand what is going on, so we mostly get their parents consent for children under 12 years old. It is reported that there were 113 samples on the busiest day of the clinical team so far, and more than 90 people on average come everyday for health checking.

Taking blood samples for testing

OU and PUCE students working in the lab

When the consent forms have been signed, the participants will be sent to clinic room to take blood samples. While their samples are sent to the lab for testing, they can go to the vision clinic right next door to test for shortsighted and other vision diseases. Once we have the results of their samples from the lab and their vision tests, they are going to be sent to our doctors for consultation and medication if necessary. The process keeps the whole team working all day long although they are the biggest team in Healthy Living Initiative this summer with more than 30 people.

Measuring blood pressure, height and weight

checking vision for local people

Healthcare consulting

Well, working hard does not mean that clinic people don’t know how to have fun.  On our way to Melva Usaime in one of the “bananas”, music is always on and we were all swinging in the car not sure it is because of the music or the bumpy road. And after a long day working at the lab, they finally end up with a soccer or basketball game, while other team members who have finished their duties become the audience. It seems like the clinic people are both good at working hard and relaxing. Great job, clinic team!

end up the day with a soccer game! 🙂