I’m now officially done with In-Service Training, which means I am a 100% competent, educated, professional Peace Corps representative, completely prepared to swoop in on Teyel and singlehandedly solve poverty.
In actuality, I feel anxious, excited, and unprepared. I’m totally satisfied with the training Peace Corps has given me so far. I’ve learned a lot and I truly believe that I can implement some of my new knowledge and skills to positively impact lives in my community. I have a million ideas for projects I want to try and am looking forward to returning to my community and getting started.
Peace Corps advises against doing too many projects too soon. We’re supposed to take things slow to avoid burning ourselves out or spreading ourselves too thin. With that in mind, the ridiculous length of the list below might look crazy. Keep in mind that my list of ideas is just that: ideas. I thought it’d be good for my own sake to make a list now to organize my thoughts, so months from now when my creativity is gasi and I don't remember training anymore I can look back on it.
If anyone reading this has opinions on these ideas, either positive or negative, please let me know. My next two years are a clean slate and I’d love any inputs.
At the health hut:
1. Get a well for the health hut (if there is enough motivation for the community buy-in, which there wasn't when my ancien tried this), and plant some medicinal/ornamental plants and trees there for beautification and improved functionality
2. Improve medicine supply at hut and/or post. This would probably be the hardest thing I would ever do, and its chances of happening are close to zero. The medicine supply chain's lack of functionality is a nation-wide issue, and I'm just an awkwardly tall white girl with bad Pulaar. But hey, big dreams lead to big accomplishments.
3. Implement a hearth program for babies that my health hut's growth monitoring programs have shown are "in the yellow", meaning they need supplemental food interventions. If the next scheduled growth monitoring session shows there's a need for this it can also be done in Dinguera, Koulinnto, Biaro, or other neighboring villages.
At the schools:
4. Ask women who live near the elementary school to take care of the school garden my ancien built in exchange for part of the harvest. When the principal of the elementary school comes back from vacation, I can ask him to get the kids to donate money to purchase seeds.
5. Continue working with MSS scholars in biweekly meetings. Have discussions or trainings on self-esteem and self-image. Support the MSS girls in their studies and encourage them to mentor other young women.
6. Continue English club for CEM students and do introductory English classes for adults (the odds that any adults will show up to a class are near zero, but I would like to at least offer the option, since that's something many people ask me to help them with)
7. Work with my ASC to do after-school program on basic first aid. One of the elementary school teachers recommended this. He has seen kids fall down at recess, get a bloody wound, then rub dirt in it to staunch the bleeding. Simply teaching people to wash wounds with soap and clean water could prevent many infections.
8. Implement the grassroots soccer malaria curriculum in Teyel and possibly in surrounding villages once school starts in October
9. Do a pen pal program between kids at my local elementary school and French-speaking elementary students at the Pierre Bottineau French Immersion School in Minneapolis. I emailed Pierre Bottineau but haven't heard back yet.
Around the community:
10. If my language skills are good enough, I'd like to conduct a baseline sanitation/handwashing survey. My ancien said she did a survey when she first got to site so I will use the findings of her survey plus follow-up questions from my own to determine areas of focus.
11. Collaborate on the Velingara work zone’s radio shows (if I feel my language is good enough).
12. Work in community garden when they start planting (in January or February) to encourage sustainable cultivation and pest management techniques.
13. Invite an agroforestry volunteer to add trees to the community garden (for alley cropping and live fencing)
14. Work with the village baker (Tidiane Balde) to process and add moringa powder to bread loaves. This was his idea - he wants to call it Mburu Dolee (power bread). If there is a good response to it, I can ask a nearby CED volunteer to help him design a business plan.
In nearby villages:
15. Implement PECADOM+ in Teyel and surrounding villages (next fall, if it spreads to Kolda by then). PECADOM+ is a new program the everyone at PC Senegal is really excited about. They have PCVs and volunteers from the Senegalese health care system with backpacks full of malaria test kids and medicine go to every compound in the village, testing and supplying treatment for everyone that has a fever. It eliminates the transportation barrier that sometimes prevents sick people from seeking care.
16. If there is a need in Teyel or in surrounding villages, I could do a vaccination program with an NGO. Many understand that vaccinations are important, but there are transportation and cost barriers preventing some from getting them. Vaccinations are easy programs to do because you literally just swoop in, give shots, and leave. There is no behavior change component required.
17. Sex ed tourney with Tasha and Coco (December). Two senior health volunteers are planning a tourney around several volunteer sites in Kolda. The idea is to educate middle school boys and girls about what puberty is and how they can avoid pregnancy, since this is something that is usually not taught at school or at home.
18. Malaria tourney with Kim (late October). A senior health volunteer in Kolda wants to go on a tourney of volunteer sites and pair a mosquito net repair and care event with an educational component on malaria and on-site malaria testing and treatment at the local health structure
19. Latrine project with Steph M (unknown – during cold season). In a neighboring village, most people poop in the woods. We want to encourage them to poop in latrines instead. Steph's handling the budget and grantwriting portion of the project and I'm handling the educational component (ie, helping people make handwashing stations, doing handwashing activities, encouraging latrine use).
20. Expand personal garden, experiment with hydroponically growing mint using found materials
21. Study/experiment with the efficacy of neem cream/oils/candles as mosquito repellent. Peace Corps used to promote the use of neem cream but doesn't anymore because no studies have shown it to be effective, and sometimes people would use it instead of sleeping under their nets (which HAS been shown to be effective) but it is a natural repellent, and if it works, I'd like to use it personally.
22. Train for and run the Tambacounda Half Marathon for Girls Education (race day is December 7th)
That's it! What do you think?