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Okay, everybody, sing to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”:

Lave, lave, lave men nou Wash, wash, wash your hands

Lave men nou chak jou Wash your hands each day

Avan w manje, apre w twalet, Before you eat, after you use the toilet

E nou va gen santé. And you will have good health.

This is one of the songs that the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) students taught our 12 Community Water Promoters at the three-day training program we held for them this past week. The training session was part of a new water and sanitation development project that we’ve started in six of the communities around the clinic site. These six communities were chosen because they showed that they had good leadership and did well with a seed project we have been doing with them over the past few years. Each of the six communities chose two people for us to train as community promoters. These promoters are charged with the task of changing their communities for health! This is, of course, not a small task. But, we are asking them to go around their communities with the message of clean water, good hygiene and sanitation, and hopefully, in time, attitudes and behaviors will change.

With funding from the Fox Cities Morning Rotary Club in Wisconsin and partnership with the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, we began this project last spring with an initial assessment in the six communities to evaluate their present practices with regard to water treatment, water storage and basic hygiene and sanitation. This assessment was conducted by our Community Coordinator, Gemi Baptiste and students and faculty from JHSON. After this assessment, Gemi met with leaders and members of the communities and each community chose two people to become Community Promoters.

Community meeting to choose two promoters for training.

Promoters who were chosen by community leaders and members.

In September when the school semester began, the Johns Hopkins students and faculty began work on the curriculum to be presented at the training session. With input from us here in Haiti, and with teaching materials gathered from various organizations and institutions, they had a good start to their teaching plans when they got down here. We used the weekend to work out some of the final details and plan the upcoming week’s schedule.

The students were accompanied by two faculty members, Kevin Ousman and Grace Murphy. They did a wonderful job of keeping the students focused and productive, but relaxed and able to have fun.

Faculty members from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing – Kevin Ousman and Grace Murphy.

On Monday and Tuesday, the students had a chance to help Cherlie and me in the clinic as we consulted on our patients.

Students doing patient education with the help of a translator.

Emily Devan uses a Doppler to check for fetal heart tones on a pregnant patient.

Megan Armbraster lets a little patient hear his own heart sounds!

Wednesday marked the first day of the Promoter Training sessions. All twelve promoters were very prompt in arriving and attentive to the teaching for the day. The main objective of the first session was to present basic information about germs and how they spread and cause disease. The students were very creative in demonstrating their major teaching points!

Students who taught the first day’s sessions – Nicolette, Caitlin and Amy.

Everyone gets a chance to wash glitter off their hands.

A major area of emphasis was cholera, which is resurgent again in the area around our clinic site, due to recent frequent rains.

Cholera teaching aid put out by the Haitian Department of Public Health.

Cherlie giving the promoters important information on cholera and how to prevent it. She does similar teaching in the clinic each day.

Thursday was a day for hands-on activities for the promoters. They learned how to properly wash their hands with soap and how to make a “tippy tap” to pour water onto their hands from a gallon container without touching the container. Everyone enjoyed the practical learning that day.

Making a “tippy-tap” in small groups.

The promoters also practiced making oral rehydration fluid, as they would at home, to treat diarrhea and dehydration.

Friday, the third day of the training session, was spent reviewing all the previous information and practicing using some of the visual aids that the students had organized in a notebook for the promoters. Each promoter had the chance to present a topic using a large poster, just as they will in the future when they present information to their fellow community members.

Using a poster to discuss important teaching points.

The high point of the day, though, was the giving of gifts, including T-shirts with the clinic logo, white caps, bright green bags to carry their notebooks and personal hygiene kits.

Promoters receiving their bag of gifts.

Promoters with Cherlie and Katie and their T-shirts.

We want to thank the various Rotary Clubs in Wisconsin who have contributed to this water and sanitation project, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing students and faculty who made the teaching sessions so informative and enjoyable and the businesses and organizations who helped the students bring down the T-shirts and gifts that were so special for the promoters. A special thanks to all who prayed for our success and safety during the week!

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