My training earlier this week went as well as my travels there. It was a 3-day training where the first day and a half we worked with a contact we brought from our community and the second day and a half was a capacitation for volunteers in my group. I found the time, uninterrupted and focused, with my contact invaluable.
The head nurse at my health post came to the training with me. She, like the other nurses at my health post, is extremely nice and hardworking. I know her pretty well in a professional sense because I’ve spent a lot of time at the health post since coming to my site. Despite feeling welcome at the health post, I’ve been unsure how to start projects with them and I hoped that the training would give me a jumpstart.
The best part of the training was having focused time to talk with my contact about the needs in the community and possible project we could do to help address those needs. I liked having time to talk with her one-on-one outside of the distractions and pressure of our community because it enable us to talk in-depth and about topics we’ve never before been able to discuss.
It was interesting to learn what health needs she sees in the community and to hear about the ideas she has for projects. One topic that was surprising to me was the jail in my site.
In my site there are two large jails, and the national government is planning to build several other jails and make my community the biggest jail town in the country. The members of my community tend to see this as a negative thing. However, my contact sees it as an opportunity. She thinks the community will benefit from all the jobs the jails will bring. She also thinks that the jail has not impacted life here as much as the community claims. As my contact explained, the community uses the jail as a scapegoat so they can avoid addressing problems in the community. An example of this is HIV. A number of people have HIV in the community, but rather than focus on prevention the community tends to blame its presence on the jail and do nothing.
We outlined a project: Creating a recreational space in the community. Currently there are no parks, and the only real spaces for exercise are soccer fields. We think that creating a park with basic gym equipment—Paraguay has outdoor stationary bikes and walking machines in some of its city parks—would provide women and children a way to exercise more easily. Soccer tends to be a men’s domain and not an accessible form of regular exercise for women. Making a space to exercise might help address some health concerns in the community like high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight.
Time will tell whether our idea of creating an exercise space will blossom into a real project. To make the space we must work with two different community commissions and solicit money and/or exercise equipment from the government. Despite the uncertainty of that project, for the first time since coming here, I feel that there are concrete project opportunities for me with the health post starting to materialize.