Transformation: HBB

25 January 2015

Yet another installment of the answer to the question “What do you DO, anyway?”

Well, first off, in my last post about BSSC I told you about the course but I didn’t actually write about what I personally did to pull it off – basically, everything except teach it!  Anything it takes to make that course happen is my job to sort out or get done.  Communication with the incoming instructors, writing the project plan, logistics, venue, catering, chair and table rental (if off the ship, as most are), finding participants, invitations, coordinate travel, photocopy materials, set up the venue, acquire all required materials… communication, communication, communication… then after the course I clean it all up, sort out any data collected, coordinate the follow-up and refresher days, write the project report, and make recommendations for the next course.

So this week, I had the privilege and honor of doing all those things, plus I got to TEACH the course!  Most of the courses we run are taught by outside instructors and the target audience is surgeons and other physicians, anesthetists, nurses, etc.  Fields in which I am not exactly qualified to teach.  So I’ve done my job well if the teachers can just come in and teach and don’t need to worry about any details.  But this week was different!

Helping Babies Breathe is a newborn resuscitation program created by the American Academy of Pediatrics for low resource environments and teaches basic skills and actions that can have a dramatic effect within the first few minutes of life.  Because I have so much experience in my previous life of being an instructor for the American Red Cross, and because I live in a hospital with a whole lot of clinical experts, I was able to step in as an instructor on this course – and it was so much fun!

Part of why it was so fun was the participants! They were Peace Corps volunteers that work in small health centers across Madagascar.  Back when I first got to this country I met with the Peace Corps director with the hope of collaboration, and this was the result.  The reason this was so near and dear to my heart was I was a Peace Corps volunteer (PCV) in Benin before joining Mercy Ships, and know how difficult it can be to feel like you aren’t really making a difference.  This course would offer them a tangible way to help see transformation in their villages.  We invited ten PCV’s to come to the ship and learn the action plan for the first few minutes of life – and then sent them out with all the teaching materials needed to train the birth attendants and healthcare workers in their rural health centers.  They were awesome students, caught on very quickly, and are quite excited to share their new-found skills.

Not only was teaching fun, having the PCV’s on the ship was awesome! I got to visit the ship in the middle of my service in Benin and got quite excited about things like dairy products and ice – things you don’t ever get in the bush! Well, these volunteers were no different. They got so excited about the ship shop, American junk food, coffee, ice, beds, warm water… and the welcome they received by this amazing ship family was second to none.

Overall it was an incredibly fun time that reminded me how much I love to teach, how much I love Peace Corps, how much I love this ship and the awesome work I get to be a part of…. And hopefully it will all lead to saving precious babies lives across Madagascar. 

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