July 6, 2014 - Day 2 - Community Health Volunteer Class

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July 6, 2014 - Day 2 - Community Health Volunteer Class   

Today was the second day of Community Health Worker classes in Khamding. Dylan started the day off strong with a lecture on sexual health, then came Kim and Laura talking about pregnancy and neonatal health. After lunch Yvonne, Grace, and Audrey spoke about child health and development; Kim, Yvonne, and Laura ran a workshop on growth charts; Olivia taught a class on eye care; and Dylan finished up with a lecture on dental health. More people showed up than yesterday, making for over 30 in total in the class. The 12- and 13-year-old girls who were in the class yesterday skipped school (there’s a six-day school week, Sunday through Friday) to come back today. Their notes weave through English letters and Sanskrit, board-copied dates about John Snow and the London cholera epidemic next to summaries of immunizations in Nepali.     
I didn’t have a lecture today so I wandered around Khamding, read, napped, and prepared for my class tomorrow on high altitude medicine. I joined Sharon and Jennifer (and Kunga, who was translating) at the grade school in Khamding (ages three to 14), where Jennifer was teaching the youngest groups the English alphabet and playing games. I went into a class of 13-year-olds, where the headmaster of the school—or at least the man who acted liked the headmaster, Nawang’s uncle, whom I’d examined in clinic—asked me, through Kunga, what I would like to teach. What I would like to teach. I hadn’t prepared anything, I thought I was just visiting, I wasn’t qualified to teach anything. The class said they wanted a health class, so Sharon and I bumbled through (I did most of the bumbling) a basic food groups talk, until Yvonne showed up with Chongba and bilingual cards with food names and the class sorted them into proteins, carbohydrates, dairy, and fruits and vegetables. It was strange the way the teachers stepped back when we were there. We didn’t want to impose ourselves on these classes, but ended up being pulled in by the few faculty members.

In the afternoon, after learning about Ang Phula’s (our fearless chief and now head translator—it’s unclear how much he’s directly translating and how much he’s telling jokes) experiences with high altitude illness—he has a lot of tricks for spotting altitude sickness and differentiating between cerebral and pulmonary edema—I went back to the school, where we played soccer for a couple of hours. Playing with the kids, exchanging brief phrases in Nepali and English, getting them excited about the medical classes, seemed more productive than a half-thought-out food groups class. Around the same time, Laura and Yvonne found out that the way they had been saying their names sounded similar to phrases for male genitalia in Nepali. So all in all, a productive day.

All the best,