Stephany Perkins arrived in her Tanzanian village as an eager Peace Corps Volunteer for the environment program. In her initial few months, she listened carefully to what her villagers viewed as their most important needs.
Health education was top on the list of identified needs created through the series of community meetings. Specifically, the villagers wanted malaria education. Perkins understood the importance of working on the community’s needs and contacted Carol Sevin, one of the PC Malaria Volunteers in Tanzania funded in-part by the President’s Malaria Initiative. The pair designed a village-based Training of Trainers which would not only educate about malaria prevention and treatment but also provide a venue for attendees to learn how to teach others.
“The biggest aspect that made this TOT successful was that it was an identified need,” Perkins said. “It was exciting to see everyone come out of their shells during the training.”
The TOT was held primarily for the village’s Community Action Group. The group was created in 2003 as an HIV/AIDS education group but recently changed to incorporate all health issues. Members hold a variety of activities educating about everything from basic cleanliness to mother & child care.
Day 1 of the four-day training was themed What is Malaria and How Can We Protect Our Community from It? Participants learned the basics of malaria through games and speakers. Myths and misconceptions were broken down to make the facts clear and understandable. Then the details were examined: transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.
On Day 2, the group made teaching tools and learned how to teach with them. A comparison of activities was discussed for teaching students versus adults. Games involving bed net usage and a fun take on the old favorite Simon Says called Annie Anopheles Says were all best practices for teaching in schools.
During the afternoon, participants were shown how to lead a neem cream demonstration. Neem Cream is mosquito repellent made from the leaves of the neem tree and basic soap found in village shops. They also learned about Chumo, a short film about malaria in pregnancy produced by Johns Hopkins University Center for Communications Programs, USAID and Media for Development International Tanzania. Both Neem Cream and Chumo are wonderful tools for teaching adults about malaria.
Days 3 and 4 were scheduled to give the participants a chance to try what they had learned first-hand. Day 3 was spent at the village primary school. Colorful flipcharts, games and skits were used to capture the students’ attentions and provide an interactive lesson on malaria.
Day 4 was held a week later in conjunction with the village health center’s Mama’s Clinic. TOT participants were able to lead the women at the clinic through the process of making Neem Cream and repairing mosquito nets. Malaria prevention and treatment in general for pregnant women were also discussed with the aid of flipcharts and other teaching tools.
“This training was very successful,” Sevin explained. “We found that compared to bigger trainings in town the PCV and counterparts got so much more out of this. There are many benefits to training in the village: everyone was able to attend and participate in hands-activities, participants are more likely to apply what they learned when they apply it at home first and the training is a better deal (more people for less money).”
Because the workshop was implemented at a low cost, the Peace Corps TZ Malaria Team is working on a village training package to share with all volunteers in Tanzania. If a volunteer holds a training in their village, they can go with a counterpart to show another volunteer and their counterpart how to host their own.
“Stephany’s already making plans to visit a neighboring PCV’s site to do it again,” Sevin stated. “When we can see the excitement spread from one site to another, we know we’re on the right track. Sustainability is important to all PCVs.”