Viva Educational Seminars!
So it’s July 9th, almost a week since we came back to the United States. Lauren’s currently vacationing with her family in Hawaii, Briana’s home in Chicago and Cindy’s home in Maryland. We fell behind with blog posts during the last week of our trip – partially due to lack of Internet, partially due to fatigue – but we promise to put all of them up this week and finish this blog! Here we go. =)
Today (Tuesday, June 26th), Briana, Cindy, and I actually managed to reunite with Judy and Melecio at the appointed time, mostly due to our extremely knowledgeable cab driver (it is a breath of fresh air to get a taxi driver who knows what he´s doing and can get us to a location on his first try). Of course, Judy has been telling us we need to get there half an hour earlier than we really need to, anticipating our faux-Peruvian tardiness, so we were actually half an hour early, and poor Judy hadn´t even managed to get her son off to school when we showed up. We chilled in the ASPAT office and read over some of their educational pamphlets – apparently, the stereotype of Latinos exlaiming ‘caramba’ and ‘viva’ at every vaguely appropriate opportunity is not just an American one. You learn something new everyday.
Speaking of learning new things, today we observed our first educational charla, courtesy of ASPAT! For those of you who don´t know, educational charlas are pretty much exactly what they sound like they’d be: educational seminars given at local hospitals (or health clinics) to inform TB patients on such topics as nutrition, prevention, TB risk factors, the importance of completing a full treatment regimen, and so on. Today´s charla focused on teaching patients about their nutritional needs.
Before the charla, we passed out folders containing the educational pamphlets that we looked at this morning!
In spite of the fact that Melecio and Judy have probably given this particular talk hundreds of times before, they still managed to bring an inspiring amount of energy and enthusiasm into the room (it was actually more of a patio). The patients ranged from the young to the very old. I believe the youngest boy was 14, and the oldest man was in his 80s. At first, I wasn´t sure how successful the charla would be. Many of the activities required people to write: Melecio would put up a large poster with a question on it, such as What does food do for us? and ask the patients to write their answers on smaller pieces of paper. Unfortunately, at least two of the patients were illiterate – something I wouldn´t have thought to anticipate, and which obviously increased the difficulty of spreading awareness, as many of ASPAT’s promotional materials and pamphlets require patients to be able to read.
But perhaps the lack of literacy actually inspired more camraderie, in the end, as those who could write helped their struggling neighbors. The longer the talk went, the more enthusiastic everyone became, telling Melecio about the food they´d eaten that past week, asking him about acceptable substitutes for food they didn´t like, and just generally wanting to learn as much as possible about how to get better.
Melecio talking to the patients at the charla.
The patients and Briana listening intently.
Melecio helping a patient to write so that she can participate in the charla (note the GlobeMed logo on the back of Melecio’s shirt!).
Judy looking very serious – perhaps listening to a patient’s opinion on their nutritional and dietary needs?
Judy and Melecio both at the front – they make a very good team!
Judy ended up concluding the talk by asking if anyone would like to volunteer to be a coordinator for the health clinic, providing emotional support for the other patients and making sure that everyone took their medicine on time. One of the most enthusiastic participants, a middle-aged woman named Sarah, volunteered to help out. She said that she was tired of being judged for having TB when she had always been compliant with the treatment and taken preventative measures because other TB patients failed to be as vigilant, so she would be glad to help other people comply. More importantly, Sarah has two young children that she doesn´t want to see infected, and she is willing to do anything to minimize the spread of TB for their sake.
This is Sarah – congratulations! We´re sure you´ll be an excellent coordinator.