Leading a health class with middle school students.
Dabaso, Kenya | February 2011

I am a public health educator living and working in Malindi District, Coast Province, Kenya at a level-two government-run medical dispensary. My employer is the United States Peace Corps, although I also hold myself responsible to the people of the communities I serve. I arrived “on-site” in July 2010, and am posted here until July 2012.

Primary Projects:

  • I’m currently working closely with my dispensary to develop a set curriculum of “microteaching” health lectures to instruct clinic patients on basic issues like child nutrition, HIV prevention, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, and the importance of immunizations
  • I’m also working with my clinic to update their record-keeping systems, including educating staff in the importance of public annual reporting and training personnel in basic record-keeping skills like data entry and the use of graphic software.
  • Other dispensary-based projects that are tentatively being discussed for the future include development of set curricula for outreach programming, developing interactive health seminars for presentation at public barazas, and the establishment of a Youth-Friendly Services department at the dispensary to provide specialized peer-to-peer support on topics like life skills, sexual health, social support, and income-generation.
  • Working with the outreach staff at the dispensary, I established and am assisting in a de-worming initiative for primary school students in classes K-4. Worm infestation is a leading cause of malnutrition in this age bracket. Each group of children that receives deworming tablets is also given a brief interactive lecture about prevention measures and the importance of regular deworming. To date, over 1,100 children have benefited from this program.

Secondary Projects:

  • A lot of what I do outside the dispensary involves local primary schools – one of my main goals has been to help establish and provide oversight for “health clubs,” or student-run-teacher-assisted peer-to-peer education programs. These gives students ownership over their community and help them develop their own community-based solutions. Topics covered include basic hygiene, waste disposal, malaria prevention, HIV, and the environment.
  • I’m currently helping to establish “Life Skills” programs in local primary schools by designing and training teachers in curricula related to decision-making, relationship-building, and communication. These skills empower students to be able to deal with life’s challenges in methodical, productive ways.
  • I give guest seminars to interested organizations (including faculty groups, youth clubs, and support groups for people living with HIV/AIDS) on a variety of topics including sustainable income generation and grant proposal writing.
  • I also work very closely with a leading district public health officer and cultivate contacts with organizations such as USAID, AMREF, and APHIA-II. My “catchment area” of public health extends beyond the dispensary out of which I am based. This leads to some rather more amorphous commitments such as aiding food security for HIV/AIDS home-based care groups, assisting fundraising projects for youth drama clubs that promote HIV awareness through public dramas and art performances, and supporting water sanitation efforts in rural areas.

Tertiary Projects:

  • I’m a member of the Peace Corps Diversity Peer Support team, which provides assistance to currently serving volunteers in dealing with stress, integration, and mental health issues.