TEST The SWAT bucket, a toolkit for malaria education, has been traveling across the Upper West Region of Ghana. It stopped in my small farming village in mid September. First the facilitator’s malaria pictures were taken to the Primary school where over 200 smiling faces raised their hands proudly to share their knowledge about malaria prevention. The teacher Alhassan did a wonderful job translating my questions for them. We covered the importance of sleeping under a long lasting insecticide treated net (LLIN) properly, going to the clinic when you think you have malaria and covering the drinking water barrels in the house. The students love to look at the big pictures and telling the class what they see. Being able to answer simple questions has given the boys and girls confidence in the classroom. After being in the community for a year I have seen the students grow with enthusiasm when I enter to teach another health topic. With the help from the SWAT bucket they can go home and educate the rest of their family.
Days later it was market day in the neighboring village. Myself and PCV Grace McCauley set up next to all the women sitting and selling yams. Eventually over 50 men, women and children formed a circle around us. Francis energetically started shouting my instructions on how to make the local mosquito repellant. The neem cream is made from tea from the neem seeds and leaves combined with key soap and shea butter. During the breaks of the preparation we used the pictures from the SWAT bucket and facilitated discussion. Once the cream was made we gave it to a shop owner to sell. We hoped that women would start making and selling the neem cream if they saw how one shop owner financially benefited. Thus far, no one is taking the initiative to sell the repellant; therefore, some more demonstrations will be organized.
At the end of the week another neem cream demonstration was done in my village during a baby weighing outside the health clinic. The women heard about the demonstration on market day and were eager for me to show them how to make the “malaria medicine”. About 60 women and their babies fussing about surrounded myself, the nurse Rufina, and the health volunteer Bomanjor. As the health workers were busy weighing children and recording the weights I began making the cream. Bomanjor would announce the steps every once in a while when I cued him to do so. Having no focused translator, I lost out on being able to do malaria education like I did at the previous events. I have not seen any women making the neem cream, but I need to do more promotion before that can happen.
Soon after I passed on the SWAT bucket, two more neem cream demonstrations with a net hanging and malaria education have occurred this month. The volunteers in the Upper West Region are motivated to use these easy projects in a bucket in all the PCV villages of the region.