This past week I traveled to Huancavelica for field based training, with the 24 other health volunteers. It was a great week as we were able to apply the training from the past month to hands-on situations; from a alcohol presentation to high-school students to facilitating a group session with mothers in a small mountain town, Quisarmpampa, and more.
Huancavelica is another department in Peru, and also one of the poorest, located about 6 ½ hours southeast of the Lima province. We worked in a small provincial capital called Huaytara, where 2 other volunteers are currently serving, nestled up in the mountains. It was eye-opening to see an actual site and the beauty yet difficulties behind it as well.
The health program has two goals within its framework. The first is to work with 30 mothers with children under 3 years old, through capacity building on how to adopt practices that better the development and growth of their child. In many small rural towns, children suffer from malnutrition or anemia which stunts their growth, so educating the mothers on how to prevent and reduce the risk of illnesses associated is a main part of our work. This week we facilitated a solo house visit with a mother over anemia along with a group session with moms about balanced nutrition. My partner and I ended up doing it 3 separate times to three different groups of moms, and each time was a different adventure on how to get our message across with not fluent spanish. The whole week was great practice for our service ahead.
The second goal is to work with 50 jovenes (youth/teenagers) of ages 12 to 17 on promoting healthy habits for their future from soft skills to drug and alcohol session to sexual education as well. This week my partner, Katy, and I facilitated a presentation on how to prevent the risks of alcohol. This was the highlight of my week as we were able to get all the jovenes to actively participate and learned the do’s and don’t of a Peruvian classroom. I am really looking forward to working with jovenes throughout the next year. Both goals are challenging yet rewarding in many ways.
Overall, the whole experience was eye-opening, and made me excited for my service to come. Even though I do not have a health background, the power of building relationships and confianza (trust) in the communities is the key to making a change and allowing people to share information and listen to you. Within the coming weeks not only building my knowledge of technical health information but also continuously improving my Spanish is essential to my success as a volunteer.
I returned on Friday to my host family and yesterday had a great day with them. I played soccer for a couple hours with my host brothers followed with an entertaining session of me teaching them yoga. Today, I am cooking for them for the first time so wish me luck as I embark on the eggplant parmesan mission for the day.
I am half-way through training, which seems a bit crazy, and will be finding out my permanent site this Wednesday! Keep sending all the life updates from the states – I love them all (email and Facebook is best).
Also, as I am finishing this Stolen Dance by Milky Chance just came on in the Internet cafe – Ashley and friends (you know who you are) put it on and dance 🙂
Poco a poco,