Malaria & Mosquito Nets

Video I put together to promote Stomping Out Malaria in Africa. There may or may not be one teeny weeny error, but mostly I like how it turned out:


A year late – here it finally is! I mentioned this video we made for last spring’s training, and have since been pestered by volunteers and friends/family alike to upload it. Then I forgot about it completely. Then this past week I was sifting around my external hard drive looking for something else pertaining to mosquito nets and stumbled upon the video. So, I’ve at long last uploaded it. Please excuse the poor video quality  – it would have been 438 minutes to upload the .dv version and that’s not going to happen when there’s only one computer with internet for 13 people.

About the video: April of 2010, Kellen, Dave, Chris Breezy, and myself  were called upon to teach the latest wave of health and environmental education trainees about the massive-esque mosquito net distributions that were taking place in southern Senegal.  You may remember these such distributions that I was involved in – they were the beginning of my malaria affair. If I’d only known then…  Anyway, upon considering our task, we decided the best way to enlighten the trainees in the ways of net distributions would be via video, photos and song. At 10pm we started the video snippet, at 4am the link below was the result.  Enjoy!

(If I ever have fast interwebs again I promise to upload the non-fuzzy version.)

From the beginning stages of the Department of Kolda’s mosquito net distribution back in June, through… well this morning actually, I feel like I have been running around Kolda and Senegal non-stop, only able to stay in touch via quick emails or facebook posts.  This is the part where I would love to say that it’s all going to slow down and clear up, but between my “cancellation of service” conference which will be in the end of November, the annual “West African All-Volunteer” conference in the beginning of December,  and the West African Invitational Softball Tournament (WAIST) in the beginning of February, and of course the many holidays and festivals that take place in Oct/Nov/Dec/Jan that as PCVs far away and lonely from home go out of our way to celebrate in exceptional fashion… I will not be able to slow down until after WAIST.  Plus,  (glorious, GLORIOUS) cold season is coming up, which is also the best time of year to travel, so I would really like to make it to Mali and Guinea Bissau before March.  Actually, speaking of March, I’ll be out of Kolda at least a week and a half during that month as well because the new Health/EE volunteers for 2011 will arrive and I will be required to lead parts of their training.  So, make that post my birthday in April that things will smooth out.  Then in May or June, I COS (cancellation of service), hopefully go to Tanzania and Malawi to visit my friend who is a PCV there, and then I make my triumphant return to Amerik.  Well then.  Enough excuses and explanations, let’s discuss what’s been happening since we’ve last talked.

Emily, me and Wilma at one of the many net distributions.

July:  The Department of Kolda  net distribution went really well (and as scheduled!).  Now, theoretically, every bed in every village in the department of Kolda has a net over it, thus achieving “Universal Coverage” in Kolda.  Hooray!  Being point person for the distribution we hectic and crazy and pulled me out of my village way more than I wanted to be, but it also gave me the opportunity to rub elbows with many of the big muckity muck doctor-type people in Kolda that I don’t usually socialize with in my village, and I got to work with many of my fellow volunteers around Kolda as nets distributions went down in their villages.  All that said, I’m glad it’s over and all the grant forms are done and wrapped up.

August/September: I feel like big things happened in August…. Oh yes!  Unfortunately, I spent most of this time out of beautiful Kolda (beautiful because it’s the crux of rainy season in August and everything is gorgeous and green… and flooded).  I had a quarterly “Volunteer Advisory Committee” meeting to attend in Dakar in the beginning of the month, and then… I flew to Barcelona, Spain!!  I know, I know, I didn’t talk too much about this vacation, but it was SOO wonderful and so necessary at the time as it was my first time leaving the country since I’d arrived in the end of February 2009.  As most of you know, I am not one to sit still or stay in one place for too long so I was definitely going a bit stir-crazy.

Quick vacay re-cap:

  • Spent 1 1/2 days in Barcelona by myself before my mom and Andrew flew in.  I kept busy by visiting the local food store for: cheese, wine, bread, chocolate, peaches, and grapes, trepsing up and down the Rambla visiting various Pubs, and taking hot showers and sleeping as a star-fish diagonally on my big bed (with a real mattress) in my B&B.  It. Was. Phenomenal.
  • Then,

    Scenery in Pompeii. That’s right, we went on walking tours.

    mom and Andrew flew in and we met at the docks of our cruise boat for a 5-day cruise around the Mediterranean.  Andrew told me I look like a hippie. My mom cried. Quick recap of 3 stops in Italy: Sorrento is gorgeous and almost too picturesque, Rome is  slightly overwhelming but really interesting, Florence I most definitely must return to; 2 stops in France: Nice was amazing! Perfume factory and Village St Paul de Vance, last day was a beach day in Provence, gorgeous.  And yes, the boat with its endless amounts of food and fun was stupendous.

    “Formal Night” on the cruise with our rockin dinner table of fun.

  • I then had 5 days in Barcelona to explore and devour.  Ended up going to Valencia on an impromptu trip to join in the annual La Tomatina festivities.  (Tomatina is the annul tomato throwing festival in Buñol, near Valencia. CRAZY fun and mildly terrifying.)  I toured all that Gaudi had to offer, took a cooking class (learned tapas, pallea, and sangrea), and met lots of interesting people at my hostel.  It was my first time in Europe and my first time staying in a hostel.  Amazing! Most of them thought I was weird.
  • The vacay finished up with five days in Madrid.  Amazing city, so much to do and see and the museums are so incredible and the food and the wine and the beer… I’ll stop there.  Enough said, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Since my travels took place \during most of Ramadan, I had planned to get back to village for the end of Ramadan fete called Korite, but ended up getting massively sick my last few days in Spain and had to spend TWELVE DAYS in the medical hut in Dakar.  Did I mention it was 12 days?  Ugh.  If it wasn’t for my friend Leah who recently broke her foot being there (along with some other fabulous volunteers who were around the office doing paperwork since they were leaving) the stay would have been horrendous. I was actually told to stay longer but I escaped when the medical officers were distracted with new patients muwahaha.

Finally, back to village.  It was amazing.  I missed it so much.  Spent most of my time following my moms around and helping them with their work since everyone’s busy harvesting. I brought them random things from es-pain: fans for my moms, Spain scarf for my dad, popcorn for everyone else (ok ok popcorn was from Kolda meme but you try to buy things for 200 people in Europe on a PC stipend!).

Poster I made about Moringa Oliferia – a super healthy plant! (Photo by Austin Peterson)

Hangin out with some of the younger ladies at the party. (Photo by Austin Peterson)

Oh!   I almost forgot! I attended an amazing “Healthy Baby Day!” party in my friend Camille’s village.  You may recognize Camille from my training photos because Camille and I learned Mandinka together during pre-service training!  As she remains one of my closest friends in the peace corps, it was great to see her and to help with her baby day party.  The celebration was in recognition of an 8-month challenge a mothers in Camille’s village and surrounding villages took part in to keep their newborns healthy.  Women had to participate in monthly baby weighings and causaries  to remain a part of the contest, and at the end of the eight months, who ever had the squishiest babies won!  On celebration day, me and 14  other volunteers invaded Camille’s village to help lead a series of health talks and dance circles.  It was a stellar project and a super-fun day.

October: Just recently got back from Joal, a city on cost below the point that is Dakar, for the annual health/environmental education volunteer gathering.  It was mostly geared towards the newer health/ee volunteers that just arrived in country a few months ago, but it was really nice to step away and see a lot of volunteers I never get to see.

Coming up: We welcome eight new volunteers in a few days to the region of Kolda.  This entails us throwing them a huge dinner party, helping them buy all their buckets and trunks and rope that they will need to move into their villages, and for some of them, attending their “moving in/installation” ceremonies in their villages.   It’s always fun to see new volunteers arrive, yet weird with this crew because they are the last group of volunteers to arrive before it’s time for my group of volunteers to leave!  Nutty, eh?  Didn’t think it was so soon, did you?  Ready or not, June 2011 I’m heading back!  And still, so  much to do before then.

I know, I know, it’s be an insanely long time since I posted. I’ve been an extremely neglectful person who before was an insanely busy PCV who then went on vacation to Spain and decided to not think about PC more than I need to while I was gone. More on that later. In the meantime, below is the completion report from the mosquito net distribution in Kolda, which means yes! The distribution was completed well and on schedule at the end of July, and everyone now has and loves their nets, hurray! Read on for details (photos to come by the 16th I promise). Again, go easy on the writing style. My english continues to falter as I pretend to speak French, Mandinka, bits of Wolof, Pulaar, Spanish… etc.

Did the community reach the goal and of its project? If not, why?
The main priority and first goal of this campaign was achieved. It is however, important to note that the goal of decreasing the incidence of malaria in the department of Kolda is not a goal that can be measured immediately, or by one aspect of the project. Therefore, to more specifically state our success: the first step towards the goal of decreasing the incidence of malaria in the Department of Kolda was achieved, as the first goal was universal coverage of Long Lasting Insecticide treated Nets (LLINs).

The underlying goal of the project, which worked towards sustainable capacity building in the health workers and volunteers in the Department of Kolda, was also achieved. Almost every aspect of the distribution – the planning, execution and follow-up – was conceived and overseen by the health workers in the Department of Kolda. Health volunteers and workers in health posts and huts around the department fulfilled their assigned duties, and even went above and beyond what was asked of them in some circumstances in order to achieve universal coverage.

How did the project build capacity in the community? What new skills have been acquired by the project participants? (Be specific as to what skills and which participants/community members)
Along with the success of achieving universal coverage in the department of Kolda, an equally momentous accomplishment is the amount of new skills gained by Kolda’s health supervisors, Health Extension Agents (HEAs), and community volunteers. Previously in Kolda, mosquito net distributions that took place in villages were planned and carried out by PCVs and their local village counterparts, or by organizations such as World Vision; health supervisors and local health workers in Kolda were merely informed in the distributions, but seldom participated in any step of the distribution process. This project completely changed that pattern. From the first planning meetings in the beginning of June through the final house-checks after the distributions in the end of July, Department of Kolda health workers and supervisors planned every step of the distribution process, properly trained local doctors and nurses at each health post, and successfully delegated the jobs needed to achieve each goal of the project during the distribution. Health workers created intricate schedules while pouring over maps of the department, discussed with local health post workers the best ways to reach distribution points in the time allotted for the distribution, and took ownership over the educational materials to be used during relais trainings, causeries, and distributions to ensure that the information was conveyed correctly to local villagers.

One would assume that the discussed administrative and logistical skills would be inherent in the job of any health supervisor or worker, but as many volunteers discover, they are not. Yet, with the steep goals and tight timeline of this project, local health workers and local volunteers stepped up to the challenge beautifully and facilitated a successful, timely, and educational net distribution. Many PCVs who participated in the distributions commented on the quick thinking and problem solving skills of local relais and health volunteers; where once relais felt that they could only act when instructed to do so by a doctor or nurse, when confronted with problems concerning net counts, missing materials, or unprepared causeries, they showed resilience and creativity in solving the problems at hand so they could continue the distributions on schedule.

How will community members apply their new skills or otherwise sustain the activities and/or benefits of the project? How will they cover any recurring costs?
Though this project specifically targeted malaria control and education, the skills gained and used to carry out every aspect of the distribution can be applied to any type of health outreach project the Department of Kolda undertakes in the future. From the extensive planning skills and creative logistical thinking used to organize the distribution, to the quick problem solving skills and public speaking/teaching methods gained on the ground during causeries, local HEAs, health workers, and supervisors are leaving this project with an arsenal of expertise to help them tackle future goals and health campaigns in the Department of Kolda.

In addition, local villagers have learned a number of new skills and gained new information pertaining to malaria from the distributions. Not only do they now understand how to properly take care of their nets to ensure durability, but also, villagers have gained information on other methods of decreasing the burden of malaria from causeries, and in some villages, how to make Neem lotion – another preventative method against malaria.

Concerning recurring costs and future distributions – the health workers in the Department of Kolda hope that from experiencing the benefits of universal coverage, villagers around Kolda will place a higher value in their mosquito nets, and therefore will keep them safe and on their beds every night, until the impregnation on the nets wears out in five years. Then, be it through another government-run distribution or through low-cost net sales at health posts, it is the hope of the Department of Kolda that villagers will take it upon themselves to obtain new nets and continue their fight against malaria.

What unexpected events (positive or negative) did you encounter during the project? Based on your experiences, do you have any recommendations for others implementing a similar project?
The most unexpected positive event that PCVs continuously encountered during the distributions was the quick thinking and creative problem solving displayed by local health workers and volunteers. Instead of passing blame or giving up, health workers worked diligently when problems arose to ensure the continued efforts of the distribution. Especially in village, this attitude is not one that is often seen, and therefore was very welcomed by PCVs during the distribution. In addition, the help provided by World Vision in the transportation of mosquito net bails was completely unplanned and unexpected but greatly appreciated, as it kept costs down and allowed the Department of Kolda to take ownership over yet another aspect of the distribution process.

On a different note, it was startling how many distribution points were not willing to provide the local health workers or volunteers with lunch as they worked all day throughout distributions. Therefore, our food cost was a bit higher than expected, as at any distribution a PCV attended, we made sure that lunch was provided by either buying food ourselves to be cooked or paying local women for extra food.

As for future projects and net distributions, I would really like for this project to be a model for future department or region-wide distributions in which PCVs would participate. To date, the majority of distributions around Senegal have been PCV planned, led, and reviewed, and while it is wonderful that PCVs have been able to distribute nets in villages, PCV-led distributions do not gain any ground in the areas of sustainable capacity building in local health volunteers and workers. It is difficult for many PCVs – after participating in so many distributions around Senegal, and having a wealth of knowledge on the good and bad ways a distribution can run – to take a back seat and offer only support and suggestions while locals take the lead for the first time in the distribution process. Still, it is what needs to happen. Peace Corps has been in Senegal for many years, but volunteers come and go while locals remain – it is integral that PCVs remember this, and approach future distributions not as opportunities for them to take the lead, but now as opportunities to offer support and ideas as local counterparts, relais, and health workers lead their own villages down the paths of malaria prevention.

In case any of you were wondering what I’ve been complaining about writing the past week, I’ve posted below my entire grant application.  WooO! I thrilling read indeed.

Note: as of now, I know the grant is approved, but apparently they have words for me about my budget.  I’ll keep you updated!

Section 1: Classification & Budget

SPA Project Title: Campaign to Achieve Universal Coverage in the Department of Kolda

Community Group: District Sanitaire de Kolda
Project Start Date: 01 July, 2010
Project End Date: 24 July, 2010
Project Classification: Health


  • Population of the Department of Kolda: 241,054
  • Number of PCVs Involved: 18

Number of Participants (direct): Those directly involved in the design and implementation of the project, including those who attend trainings or workshops

  • Male: 361
  • Female: 132
  • Total: 493

Number of Beneficiaries (indirect):  Those who receive an indirect benefit from the project, not including those counted above

  • Male: 40,181
  • Female: 40,187
  • Boys: 80,350
  • Girls: 80,350
  • Total: 241,068

Project Cost Breakdown (in USD):
Labor (not to exceed $1,000.00)

  • SPA Grant Contribution: $100.00
  • Community Contribution (cash): $300.00


  • SPA: none
  • Community (in-kind): $100.00


  • SPA: $200.00
  • Community: none

Land/Venue Rental

  • SPA: none
  • Community (in-kind): $200.00

Travel, Per Diem, Food (not to exceed $1,000)

  • SPA: $200.00
  • Community (in-kind): 100.00

Materials Transport

  • SPA: $2,500.00
  • Community: $200.00


  • SPA: $3,000.00
  • Community: Cash: $300.00; In-kind: $600.00

What will SPA funds purchase?
Labor: SPA funds will be used to support ICPs, ASCs, and community volunteers during the three phases of the campaign: census gathering, causerie and distribution, and follow-up. Specifically, SPA funds will be used to support: ICPs, largely in their supervisory and training roles during all phases of the campaign, and community health volunteers (relais, ASCs), during the causarie and distribution phase of the campaign.
Materials and Supplies: Visual Aids, Training Materials (pens, notebooks, folders), and Neem lotion supplies
Travel/Per Diem: SPA funds will be used to purchase food during relais formations and to provide transport for health workers, volunteers, and PCVs for trainings and the distribution phase of the campaign.
Transportation of Materials: SPA funds will be used to transport relais training materials from Kedougou to Kolda, and most importantly, to support transportation efforts during the distribution phase of the campaign. Specifically, this includes transporting bails of mosquito nets via charets, bicycles, and/or bush taxis from health posts to their appointed distribution points in the villages.  This cost is projected to be high, since distributions are scheduled to occur during peak farming season when villages are using their donkeys for field-work (not charets), and when consistent rains will make travel into the bush long and difficult.  The projected cost is based on the five postes de sante where Kolda PCVs will primarily be working, with five distribution points for each post – $100.00 will be used to support the transportation efforts from each post to each distribution point over all nine days of the distribution.

Section 2: Questionnaire

What community-identified priority does this SPA Project address? What is the goal of the project?
The main priority and first goal of this campaign is to decrease the incidence of malaria in the Department of Kolda.  SPA funds will assist the District Sanitaire of Kolda in their efforts to fulfill this first goal by supporting the distribution of Long Lasting Insecticide treated Nets (LLINs).  As stated by USAID, Networks, and the Plan Nationale de Lutte contre la Paludisme (PNLP), the long-term goal of the LLIN distribution campaigns currently taking place in Kedougou, Kolda and Tambacounda is to eliminate malaria in Senegal by 2015, and eventually to eradicate the disease all together.  To achieve this goal, the Department of Kolda net distribution campaign is aiming for universal coverage, which if achieved, has the potential to eliminate malaria in the entire region of Kolda.  This would dramatically decrease the incidence rates of malaria and overall burden of the disease.

The underlying goal of the project is sustainability and capacity building in the health workers and volunteers in the Department of Kolda.  Because this campaign is being run completely by the Department of Health in Kolda, Kolda’s health workers will gain leadership skills and the know-how from planning and carrying-out all phases of this large-scale distribution, and local relais will receive high-quality trainings in census gathering, causarie techniques, and net distribution logistics.  In addition, a long-term goal conceived from the capacity building and skills harvested during this distribution is that future malaria prevention campaigns will be completely planned and administered by local Senegalese health volunteers and health workers in Kolda, not by volunteers and/or outside NGOs.

What are the objectives of this project? List the principal tasks you and the community group will undertake to reach your objectives.
The Senegalese health system in Kolda will have the organizational capacity and human resources necessary to conduct a thorough distribution of LLINs in order to provide and maintain universal coverage in the Department of Kolda.

In order to conduct this large-scale, department-wide distribution of LLINs in Kolda, the campaign is being realized through a partnership between the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID via John Hopkins based local facilitator organization Networks, PNLP, and the Ministry of Health. In Kolda, local health workers and volunteers will be extensively trained in its methodologies and thoroughly supported throughout this distribution.  After a successful campaign, Department of Kolda health workers and volunteers will be able to continue future malaria prevention activities, thereby maintaining universal coverage and sustaining malaria prevention techniques specific to the Kolda region.

Our partners have created the basic logistical outline for the campaign; they will provide nets and transportation from the city of Kolda to its twenty-two outlying health posts, and will facilitate the majority of relais trainings.  Eighteen PCVs in the Region of Kolda will provide continuous support in primarily five health posts: Mampatim, Dabo, Bagadadji, Kolda (District Sanitaire), and Sarre Bidji.  Through SPA grant money, PCVs will be able to be a constant presence during all phases of the campaign in order to offer support through general logistical support and intensive relais support.  Specifically, PCVs will be providing ICPs and health supervisors with extensive and thorough guidebooks and visual aids for relais trainings on the census, causarie, and distribution phases of the campaign, and money for relais training lunches.  Additionally, PCVs will offer constant support to ICPs and health supervisors by offering local language translation and by being an active link between distribution points in the bush and the health posts in order to facilitate the efficient transportation of LLINs during the distribution phase of the campaign.   Because the relais are the integral aspect in making this distribution run smoothly, yet also tend to be the Achilles heel of distribution campaigns if not well trained, PCVs will be a constant on-the-ground source of support to all relais in their areas.

OBJECTIVES: Eighteen PCVs in the Region of Kolda will be working specifically with five health posts in the Department of Kolda (listed above) to help fulfill the following objectives:

  1. By July 5, 2010, relais from the surrounding villages of the Department of Kolda’s twenty-two health posts will be thoroughly trained in census-taking methodology and logistics, and will have taken a correct census of their assigned villages.
  2. By July 8, 2010, relais from the surrounding villages of the Department of Kolda’s twenty-two health posts will be thoroughly trained in proper causarie methodologies and net distribution logistics.
  3. By July 19, 2010, relais from the surrounding villages of the Department of Kolda’s twenty-two health posts will have carried out effective causaries and efficient distributions at every distribution point in each of the department’s twenty-two health posts.
  4. By July 22, 2010, relais and health supervisors will complete a follow-up survey of villages in the department that received nets to ensure that every sleeping area in the department has a LLIN in good condition, is correctly hung, and properly cared for.

Implementation Plan:
The Peace Corps volunteers in the Department of Kolda have partnered with the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID via John Hopkins based local facilitator organization Networks, PNLP, and the Ministry of Health to conduct a department-wide distribution of LLINs in the region of Kolda.  Our partners have provided the mosquito nets and basic logistical training, and will continue with the training of local health workers and volunteers, as well as transportation of the nets from Kolda meme to the department’s outlying health posts.  PCVs in the area will be providing logistical and training support in all three phases of the distribution to the five health posts of Mampatim, Dabo, Bagadadji, Kolda (District Sanitaire), and Sarre Bidji.  Specifically, PCVs will:

  • Census phase: provide training materials on census methods and logistics to health workers and volunteers (visual aids and books), funds for training lunches, and translation services to ICPs; and logistical support for relais as they travel throughout villages collecting information on village population counts and the number of nets each village needs
  • Mise en place: Logistical support in transporting nets from health posts to their distribution points in the bush; this is projected to be where the majority of SPA funds will go, since distributions are scheduled to occur during peak farming season when villages are using their donkeys for field-work (not charets), and when consistent rains will make travel into the bush long and difficult; projected cost is based on the five postes de sante where Kolda PCVs will primarily be working, with five distribution points for each post – $100.00 will be used to support the transportation efforts from each post to each distribution point over all nine days of the distribution
  • Causerie & Distribution phase:
    • Causerie: provide training materials on causerie methods and logistics to health workers and volunteers (visual aids and books), funds for training lunches, and translation services to ICPs; in-depth training on the spread of malaria and how universal coverage specifically counters incidence rates of the disease, proper Neem lotion production techniques, and proper care of LLIN mosquito nets
    • Distribution: provide training materials on distribution methods and logistics to health workers and volunteers (visual aids and books), funds for training lunches, and translation services to ICPs; in-depth training on the assembly-line technique of distributing nets
  • Follow-up phase: provide support to health workers and volunteers as they conduct a follow up audit of various locations within the Department of Kolda to ensure that the nets are properly used and cared for

How will the project contribute to building skills and capacity within the community?
The Department of Kolda net distribution campaign is unlike any other net distribution in which Kolda PCVs have been previously involved, in that this distribution is not PCV-run; the Senegalese government, local health officials, and local health volunteers will indeed plan, facilitate, and complete this net distribution regardless of PCV involvement.  This is, without a doubt, a good thing.  Where once PCVs were the ones who organized local volunteers and resources to run distributions, now local health workers are taking control and planning every aspect of the campaign process. PCVs’ roles then, will be to work along side these local workers and volunteers, to offer wisdom in lessons learned from our previous distributions in order to enrich the efforts of this campaign. Ultimately, the trainings, censuses, causaries, distributions, and follow-ups will be planned and run by virtue of the efforts of local health workers, and with the SPA funding, this will further enhance the project and community capacity to see it through.  Kolda’s local health workers and volunteers will leave this campaign with a wealth of new knowledge and experience to be used in future campaigns.

In the history of the Department of Kolda, a distribution on this scale has never happened before.  This campaign will be a cornerstone in Kolda’s preventative health efforts, changing the way future campaigns focused on not only malaria, but also in any facet of public health that the local government will choose to concentrate.  Future health campaigns will then be effectively perceived and efficiently carried out through local health workers and volunteers, who will be enriched from the skills and knowledge gained from this campaign.

How will the community be able to sustain the activities and/or benefits of this project?
As discussed above, future health awareness and/or preventative efforts will be improved through the skills and experience local health workers and volunteers will gain through this campaign.  In addition, local villages will learn important skills through causaries held during the distributions, such as net maintenance, how to make Neem lotion, and how to prevent the spread of malaria through activities such as community clean-ups and the knowledge of how to quickly respond to persons with malaria.

Though what future net distribution campaigns that will take place in the region of Kolda are at this time unknown, the Department of Kolda health workers hope that by having the population of the Department of Kolda experience the benefits of universal coverage – lower malaria incidence, lower disease burden, nets that are strong and will help them sleep better at night – the people of Kolda will begin to place a higher value in the ownership and care of mosquito nets. Eventually, the District Sanitaire of Kolda and PCVs hope that this enhanced value will result in an increased desire of the people of Kolda to obtain their own nets once the ones distributed in this campaign are no longer durable or impregnated.

Section 3: USAID Indicators

USAID Foreign Assistance Indicators for 2010
Program element 3.1,3 Malaria
Number of people trained with USG funds in malaria treatment or prevention: 120,531 male, 120,536 Female

The beginnings of this month, I went to Kedougou in the far south-east corner of the country to attend some meetings and trainings on the upcoming mosquito net distribution trainings in Kedougou, Kolda, and Tambacounda.  (I know, I know, I’m behind on my blog posting.)

A few months ago, I was appointed to be the Kolda-point-person for the Kolda net distributions to come.  It was one of those things that happened as I was wandering through the hallways of the Dakar peace corps office en route to the toilettes and happened past my boss.  “Amanda.  Kolda net distributions are coming up, we need a point person, would you like to do it?” “Sure!” I said continuing to walk and turn the corner of the hall. “Great!” say Chris (the Senegal country director), “we’ll be in touch.”  “Cool!” I yell as I closed the bathroom door. (Quotations not exact =).

Two minutes later.  Waaaaaaait a minute.  What did I just get myself into?

As you read (or maybe didn’t either way theres a blog post about it), I worked at the Velingara net distributions a few months back, and while it was enriching and interesting and fun, it was exhausting and stressful and trying, and I could see those feelings even more so in the few PCVs who were organizing the whole efforts.  Now, I had no information on what the Kolda net distribution would be like, but as I wandered back to the volunteer lounge in the Dakar office, I grew a bit nervous.  I decided to back-track to Chris’s office.

“You know, I’m happy to help as much as I can, but I have crummy French, so as far as facilitation logisitics with the bigwig doctors in Kolda goes, I may not be the best person,” I said from the doorway of Chris’s office.  He’s a busy dude, running all of us PCVs in the whole country and such.  “Yep, no problem, there are other volunteers in Kolda who can help you there.  We need someone to coordinate volunteer efforts and be our means of communications.  You’ll be fine. Thanks!”  I returned to the lounge feeling 5% better.  Where could he have gotten the idea that I’d be the one to be in-charge of yapping to all the other volunteers though? Weird.

Anyway, flash forward to the beginning of this month, and I’m getting more and more nervous because the rainy season is coming (which equals mosquitoes) and I’d still heard nothing definitive about the dates or plans for the Kolda department distribution.  Then, one day in village, I get a text from a volunteer in Kedougou.  “Come to K’gou for net trngs and mtgs. Starting the 4th.”   It was the 30th of May.  No worries, we rushed the Fodé Bayo pepiniere party to the 1st of June, and by the 3rd I was in a sept place bumping along the road to Kedougou.

All-in-all, my spur of the moment two-day trip to Kedougou ended up being the most important thing I’ve done for the Kolda net distributions to date.  Indeed, things have gone non-stop since then.

At the net training meeting in Kedougou

June 4th I attend a training on the materials PCVs in Kedougou have created to help doctors at the health posts to train their relais (village out-reach health volunteers) on their roles in the mosquito net distributions, what PCVs’ roles will be for the upcoming distributions, and how (thank the stars!) the Kedougou,   Kolda, and Tamba net distributions will be nothing like Velingara.  In Velingara, PC and PCVs had a huge role in the planning, organization, and action of the distributions, and it was (as said) tedious, fun, and exhausting.  For Kedougou, Kolda and Tamba, the Senegalese government was to take the front role. In fact – these upcoming distributions would go down whether or not PCVs even lifted a finger.  Fantastic!  No, not fantastic b/c we wouldn’t be counted on for all the work, but fantastic because the Senegales govt should be the ones leading these initatives.  The local health workers should be the ones training local health volunteers and planning out each phase of the distribution.  PCVs then, would only be relied upon for support.

As it turns out, our “support” roles are pretty interesting and diverse.  In most cases, PCVs have more experience in net distributions due to the fact that PCVs on and individual basis have been doing distributions in their villages and surrounding areas for the past few years, where as these upcoming distributions that the Senegalses government is leading are the first distributions that the government has ever done.  Therefore, our support efforts will include utilizing some baller training manuals created by PCVs in Kedougou based on the things that we’ve routinely seen get screwed up at previous distributions we’ve done, helping local health post doctors with translating from French to the local languages in our villages, and acting as a link between distributions points in the villages and the health posts.  Among other things.  In Kolda, we’re planning on being a constant presence for all phases of the distribution campaign, and being available as an “oh shit!” go to if things get funky or the local health workers need help.

June 8th – 10th me and three other Kolda PCVs attended three-days of fun-filled meetings in French at the health offices in Kolda (separate blog post on this to come, thrilling indeed) and got all the details for the Department of Kolda distribution.  Basically, we sat in the corner, added our two cents here and there, said hi to all the local health post workers, let everyone know we as PCVs are here to help, and gained brownie points with the big wigs from looking interested in their power-points for three days.

Aaaaanyway, since then I’ve been in constant back-and-forth with the good volunteers over in Kedogou since there net distribution is happening now and we need their training materials.  Camille, who you may remember from my PST photos (she learned Mandinka with me) is the point-person for the Tamba distribution, has been in a constant text/call/email schedule with me as well since the Tamba meetings and distribution schedule falls about three weeks behind Kolda.  Here at home, all the Kolda net distribution goodness will commence as of July 1st, and is scheduled to be finished by July 24th.  Yesterday, I finished a grant application to get some monetary support for our “help/oh shit” roles during the distribution, and I’m currently trying to organize eighteen Kolda volunteers to have a big logistical meeting about all of our roles during the July distributions, though this is proving to be more difficult than one would think due to the annual 4th of July celebrations in Kedougou to which every volunteer goes.  Slightly frustrating, but it’ll work out.

Ok.  My brain is completely scrambled from staring at my computer screen and making phone calls and what not from organizing all of this so I’m ending this post here with a fist-pump and a “to be continued.”  Hurrah!

Check it check it.  Next up, the department of Kolda (where I live!) and Tambacounda (where other awesome Mandinkas live!).

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