When Stomping Out Malaria in Africa was announced on World Malaria Day 2011, Project Director and Peace Corps Senegal Country Director Chris Hedrick wanted to “Shriverize” the program’s launch to get as many volunteers and staff thoroughly trained and coordinating malaria programs at their posts as quickly as possible. (“Shriverize” is a term popular in the Peace Corps, thanks to the agency’s first director Sargent Shriver and the way he got the program up and running in less than two years.) Towards this end, Stomp held its first two-week Boot Camp training in June of 2011 for volunteers and staff from seven sub-Saharan Africa countries. Since then, two more Boot Camps have been held in Thies, Senegal, bringing the initiative’s active countries to a total of eighteen, with over sixty volunteers and staff leading malaria prevention programs across the continent. By the end of 2013, three more Boot Camp trainings will welcome and additional three countries to the Stomp team.
Boot Camp trainings cultivate a select team of Peace Corps Volunteers Leaders, Response Volunteers, and Staff, as the “Malaria Team:” a core group of dedicated people who will lead their posts’ malaria efforts and facilitate projects for their volunteers in the field. Malaria Team members are tasked with liaising with initiative partners, facilitating communications, and building an international network of malaria prevention professionals to share best practices and ideas from the field. Throughout Boot Camp, Malaria Team members become fluent in the use of free, electronic information sharing tools such as Google Documents and Facebook, so that they can continue to exchange ideas and malaria prevention tools amongst themselves, volunteers and staff at their posts, and initiative partners around the globe.
Training sessions during boot camp are deep and diverse, with sessions via Skype and from local guests on topics such as malaria science, behavior change communications, HIV/AIDs and malaria co-infection, bed net distributions, international malaria policy and control, and advocacy. Sessions are led by a number of experts in the malaria field, including Dr. Alexis La Crue and Dr. Dennis E. Kyle from the Kyle Lab in University of South Florida, Dr. Mary Hamel from the CDC, Dr. Barbara Sow of Family Health International, and Matt Lynch of Johns Hopkins University Center for Communications Programs. Field visits included visits to three levels of Senegal’s health system and a trip to the village of Thieneba Seck, where El Hadj Diop has been leading the country’s most successful community-led malaria prevention program.
“There’s a lot of spirit and enthusiasm in this group. We are learning from volunteers who have already gone through this training – what they’ve done right and wrong – and that makes it a much more effective training for us,” said Boot Camp III attendee, Peace Corps volunteer Daniel Allen who has served in Ethiopia since October 2009. “No one can deny that malaria is one of the biggest problems that many Peace Corps countries are facing, and through Stomping Out Malaria in Africa, Peace Corps volunteers can have a big impact on their communities. This initiative gives Peace Corps volunteers an opportunity to be part of a very focused and determined group that has a very strong goal in mind: to end malaria.”
Stomping Out Malaria in Africa’s next Boot Camp training is September 19 – September 29, in Thies, Senegal. For further information on Boot Camp, explore our Participant’s Corner, Presenter Bios, and Photo Gallery pages, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.