FRB’s program in West Africa responds with flexibility to the needs and vision of the communities involved. Students at various training events share what they’ve learned with their neighbors, so that everyone benefits.
For example, a recent community workshop focused on basic veterinary care for poultry, including vaccination. One woman who attended had previously lost many chickens to disease, and said, “Now I have many chickens and guinea fowl! With the profits I’ve earned from selling them I’ve gradually been able to buy seven goats and pay for my son’s schooling. Many other people in my village now also raise chickens because they have seen what I have become. I’ve been able to share with them what I know, teaching them how to protect their poultry from diseases and other things that can be a problem for them. Thank you for this initiative to help those in need.”
Sometimes, in the interest of community health, it’s necessary to broach taboo and even frightening subjects like sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, AIDS and, recently, Ebola. A recent health training involved about 40 people from different villages, religious backgrounds, and ethnic groups who gathered under a tree in a centrally located town.
In a society where literacy rates are low, an effective teaching tool is the skit. As with most training sessions in the area, the short skits were carried out in two languages simultaneously, and combined serious concepts with humor and believable situations to convey facts about STDs and dispel such myths such as catching HIV by talking to or eating with a person who tested positive. Those who could write took notes, but all attendees were encouraged to carry their knowledge back to their communities in whatever form worked.
Although there are no reported cases of Ebola in this country, the event’s organizers decided it would be good to raise local awareness on how to stop the spread of the disease should it appear. The various skits included rigorous hygiene, how to recognize symptoms that demand medical attention, and refraining from eating bush meat (non-domesticated mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds). Bolstered by the frank and factual approach, by the end of the event men and women were able to discuss what they’d learned without superstition or fear.
The West Africa program encompasses 60 communities, 2400 households and 16,800 individuals Led by World Renew and local partner Showing Everyone Love (SEL) (*For security reasons, identifiers of country and local partner are withheld from this story)