Teaching HIV Prevention and Sexual Reproductive Health in Kumbo

July 31st, 2016 by | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Yesterday, Antonia, the mother of a child with Down Syndrome and an incredible advocate for all people with Down Syndrome and other persons with disabilities, and I traveled to Kumbo, the second largest town in the Northwest region located about two hours from Bamenda by car.  The drive was beautiful as we traveled through the mountains that were covered in green grass.  When we arrived, we realized there were miscommunication, a common occurrence in Cameroon.  “Where are we supposed to go?” said Antonia.

“Ummm.  I thought Ruth gave you the information?” I said.

“No. She didn’t.  I thought you had the information,” she said.

We contacted Ruth right away and received information from her.  Ruth assisted in coordinating my visit to Kumbo.  Then when we arrived at the place where we were supposed to have the workshop, a number of persons with disabilities were standing outside of a building that was closed.  The president of the group tried to open the building but was unable to do it.  So, we moved the workshop to a different location.  It took place outside, on a porch by a building.  As I tell the group that I came to teach HIV prevention and sexual reproductive health, the president informs Antonia and me that she was told that I was coming to teach her disability group about organizational management.  She then said that because she thought she was told that I was going to be teaching about how she and other participants can improve their organization, only the officers of the group were invited.  The president said that if she had known that I was going to be teaching about HIV prevention and sexual reproductive health, she would have invited all members of the group.  So, she pulled out her phone right away and called other members asking if they could come right away at the last minute.  We waited for some time for other members to show up.  We went ahead with HIV prevention section after waiting for some members who still have not yet showed up.  Then, just as I start the sexual reproductive health section, two additional members showed up.

In spite of miscommunication and lack of attendance of many members, the president showed a strong interest in wanting to replicate my workshop and asked me if I could provide her materials so that she could teach it to all the members of her group.  She told me that she is coming to Bamenda the following week.  We agreed to meet, and I would then provide her with the curriculum and share information with her on how to teach what I taught.  This was a very heart-warming moment because that is what Peace Corps about.  Peace Corps is about teaching the community skills and encouraging them to replicate what they have learned from the volunteers.

Participants demonstrated good knowledge of HIV prevention as evident on the pre-test as four participants scored 100% and all others missed only one answer.  The results were similar on the post-test although the results were a little strange as three participants scored 100% and while all the others missed one answer, one missed two answers.  While two participants improved by answering one more answer correct than the pre-test, three missed one more answer than the pre-test.

On the Sexual Reproductive pre-test, most participants did poorly as only three out of eleven scored 90% or better, two scored in the 70’s percent and the rest did below 70%.  On the post-test, the participants improved as four scored 90% or better, three scored in the 80’s percent and two scored in the 70’s percent and only one scored below 70%.  What was striking is that on the post-test, I asked “Have you been forced to have sex?”  Five out of eight females said “Yes” while all the males said “No.”  Also, on the pre- and post-test, one question stated, “Men are responsible for helping women avoid pregnancy.”  On the pre-test, two circled “No.”  Meanwhile, on the post-test, all circled “Yes.”

At the end of the workshop, the president treated Antonia and me with a big bag of plantains and a big bag of potatoes to take back to Bamenda.

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I demonstrate family planning by using bread. Each bread represented a family. Each piece of a bread represented a child. The big family end up with less bread for each member while the small family end up with more bread to eat for each member.

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Antonia assists the workshop.

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Me doing a condom demonstration.

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Me assisting a gentleman who has a non-usable hand with the condom demonstration.

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Condom demonstration.

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Kumbo town center

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Antonia and me with the disability group in Kumbo

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Antonia and me

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