Putting together a course on lactation, in Spanishprint story
May 21, 2012
So here we were, 3 nurses from Vermont scrambling to pull together a 5 day course on lactation to teach to a group of nurses at a hospital in Nicaragua. This part of the story actually makes me very proud.
We started researching like crazy, mostly using the internet. We read about breastfeeding worldwide and its impact on global health. We learned about the current climate of breastfeeding in Nicaragua, including statistics for breastfeeding initiation and continuation rates. We discovered that their national government was making public statements on the importance of breastfeeding for improving the health of women and babies, but at the same time were giving out free formula to government workers (a counterproductive measure, if you are trying to improve breastfeeding success.) We read about infant morbidity and mortality, and how breastfeeding is one of the most important ways to improve health worldwide, especially in countries such as Nicaragua where water that is mixed with formula is often not clean enough to safely be given to children.
The best find of all: A document produced by the World Health Organization specifically made for health workers to teach a course on lactation in developing countries. Bingo. Using these documents as a basis, we slowly began piecing together our course.
Balancing this project with our family and work lives was one of the hardest things I could imagine doing. There is no way we could have done it without the support of our partners. We began living, eating, and breathing this project- and worked on it in all moments of the day. The project was completely overwhelming, and absolutely reviving a part of me that had been asleep, it seems, for the past 6 years since I had my first baby. It was awesome to be involved in such a global project. Sometimes living in small town Vermont can resemble living in a bubble, and its awakening to involve yourself beyond your normal reality.
The three of us each had something different to offer the project, and we started to get to know each other much more than we ever had before. Kristin was organized and productive. She has a good eye and knew how to put together a course manual in a way that was aesthetically pleasing and complete. She was rock solid, and maintained a sense of humour. Aimee was our soul, our inspiration. Whenever we got frustrated or exhausted she reminded us of the value of what we were doing. She always seemed to know what to say, and how to say it, and her warm ways are very compelling. I looked up to her professionally, as a friend, and as a fellow mom.
As for my contribution to our project, the work was my soul food, and brought me back to my years in the Peace Corps. Therefore I was drawing on my memories and lessons learned from my time as a volunteer in El Salvador, and using these to guide the planning for our course. From my Peace Corps experience, I knew that we needed to make our course fun and interactive, and that we needed to find a way to draw upon what the course participants already knew in order to get the material across in a way that was empowering for them.
Please log in to post a comment!