Friday, December 4, 2009

Volunteer Video from Liberia

Certified Nurse Midwife, Jennifer Oh, speaks about her recent volunteer experience with Project HOPE in Liberia.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

HOPE Volunteers Complete South Africa Mission

We've completed our two weeks in the West Rand District outside of Johannesburg. What a busy two weeks it has been! Aside from meeting some wonderful South Africans and a great group of Project Hope volunteers and staff, we managed to complete 77 needs assessment surveys of the informal settlement Zenzele over the course of 5 days, provide two educational days on chronic disease to 28 community health workers, and conduct a facility assessment for the Randfontein EMS station and the Beckersdale Clinic. We also managed to have some fun as well, spending our day off in a Lion & Rhino Wild Animal Reserve and seeing some cool caves in the Cradle of Humankind. We even celebrated one volunteer's birthday during the trip with lots of laughter and a home made chocolate cake.

While this portion of the South Africa volunteer trip has come to an end, the real work is only beginning. The surveys have to be analyzed, the facility assessments results need to be turned in, and the education of the community must continue. I look forward to seeing the future work of Project HOPE South Africa build from the results of this experience. I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this pilot volunteer project.

By HOPE volunteer Michelle Pena

Create your very own fundraising Web page for HOPE and help the next set of volunteers get to work!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Train the Trainers in South Africa

Training days at the West Rand District Offices in Randfontein

We spent the weekend preparing our chronic disease trainings for the Community Health Care Workers of West Rand. We were “training the trainers”, meaning that the 30 participants would then supervise and instruct community volunteers on the topics of chronic disease. The reach was great, as it is government health volunteers that go door to door teaching their community members about disease prevention and recognition.

What a success! The audience was eager and enthusiastic. Having little to no knowledge about obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental health, our training participants engaged us with thoughtful questions and grateful praise. We worked hard to communicate our information at a literacy level our audience could understand and relate, so group activities, role playing, and visual aids were an integral part of our education tactics. Our efforts paid off- at the end of the training we were thanked with smiles, warm embraces, and song.

-by Project HOPE volunteer Torrey Flynn

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A day in the life of a volunteer

While rewarding, a day in the life of a Project HOPE volunteer is also very long. In the following blog New Yorker and first time volunteer Eric Dinally offers a glimpse into his schedule while volunteering in South Africa.

A hectic day.

My alarm clock buzzed at 6am—I jumped up to begin my morning routine. The bus arrived about 7:30. The other volunteers and I jumped in to start our journey to the squatter village where we conducted our surveys.

12:00pm: The sky was clear and the sun was blaring as I walked down a red dirt road with my translator. It was filled with puddles from the rain the night before. I tried avoiding the puddles as I counted shacks. We finally got to a shack that met the criteria for a survey. A short heavy lady sat by the entrance to the shackhand washing clothes. She wore in piercing yellow shirt and dirty denim pants. She was middle-aged with streaks of gray hair. She stopped suddenly when she heard someone approaching the yard. She looked up and squinted to see who it was. My translator greeted her and I waved. My translator began to explain the purpose of our visit. After of a few minutes of translating, the middle-aged women looked over to me and smiled. She gestured for me to enter her shack.

7pm: The other volunteers and I enjoyed dinner that was prepared by the guest house. We sipped on smooth tasting South African red wine as we discussed our presentations for the following day.

10pm: I put the final touches on my presentation and set my alarm for the next day….


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Visit Public Safety Office in West Rand

A group of four Project HOPE volunteers are currently working on a pilot volunteer program focusing on chronic disease assessment in the South African settlement of Zenzele. Below three time volunteer Michelle Pena describes her time spent at a fire and the EMS station in the West Rand.

On Friday, Brian and I had the opportunity to meet with the director of the Public Safety Office of the Randfontein Branch in the West Rand district. We had been asked to observe the goings on at the fire and EMS station. The branch director welcomed us kindly, taking time out of a very busy schedule to talk about the hazards and dangers in his coverage area, resources for response, continuing education for his staff, and many other topics. We were taken on a tour of Randfontein, reviewed the district's emergency management protocol and hazard vulnerability assessment, and sat in on the station's dispatch center.

The day was full of meeting new people and learning more about South Africa. Everyone I met was kind and engaging, asking many questions about the USA, what we were doing in South Africa, and if I liked the country. After one week here, I have yet to meet someone who has not been extremely kind to me. It has certainly been a welcoming feeling.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Volunteers Survey Homes in Zenzele

The blog entry below was written by HOPE volunteer Torrey Flynn. Torrey is a first-time Project HOPE Volunteer who currently works as a nurse practitioner in South Africa and lives in Cape Town. Flynn is one of four volunteers participating in a pilot volunteer program focusing on chronic disease assessment in two urban slums in the vicinity of Johannesburg.

Our second day of surveying was greeted by wonderful sunshine and a cloudless sky. Zenzele, although well organized, is a settlement intersected by dusty, brick-red dirt roads; any rain would have halted our progress through the community as roads would be messy and difficult to pass on foot.

As planned, we gathered to meet our translators at our staging area- the OVC, or Orphans and Vulnerable Children Center of Zenzele. Each of us paired up with a community volunteer to tackle the task of surveying the community on their health habits and needs- Eric with Mama Thandi, Brian with Mimosa, Michelle with Thandi, and myself with Michael. We had established these teams the day before and our system of surveying and translating was down pat.

Our community volunteers were invaluable. Knowledgeable about the geography, layout, and members of the community- these volunteers spent the day walking with us from house to house. Of greatest importance were their language skills; speaking English, Shangaan, Tswana, and Xhosa, our translators helped us conduct a 16 page, hour-long, comprehensive needs survey on randomly selected homes in the area. It was not an easy task, but everyone's spirits were high for we found the community welcoming and receptive to our inquiries. The day ended where it began, at the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Center, as each pair of volunteers came in to grab a chair, sit around the table and share a touching, sad, or funny story about the strangers we met and the lives we were privileged to know.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Volunteers Begin Work in South Africa

The blog entry below was written by HOPE volunteer Dr. Brian Crawford from Colorado. A previous Project HOPE Volunteer, Dr. Crawford is one of four volunteers participating in a pilot volunteer program focusing on chronic disease assessment in two urban slums in the vicinity of Johannesburg.

Happy Reading!

Being in this line of work does not allow one to rest and get caught up on sleep after a transatlantic flight. After missing my plane due to a weather delay, our group pushed forward under the command of Stefan and Andee. Two full days of orientation followed on the scope of work in Johannesburg and meeting the community where we will be surveying over the next two weeks.

I tried to blame my early morning insomnia on the song birds outside- a sorry excuse for jet lag. Beyond the sleep fatigue felt by most of us, today was a very rewarding day for our group. We spent our first full day surveying and working with the translators in the informal settlement of Zenzele which consists of roughly 1,200 households.

Zenzele, as mentioned in previous blogs, is an informal settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg. This “peri-urban” environment, per Stefan, potentially creates a hybrid of problems from rural and urban areas such as water and sanitation issues and nutritional issues compounded by chronic disease states.

Our purpose is to survey the population of Zenzele through random sampling and evaluate the interface of this peri-urban environment. Going through an hour long survey with a member in this community is one way to understand how these people live. Yet, it provides a secondary benefit, the opportunity to walk into their homes and share their life for an hour or so which cannot be captured by any nicely worded question.

At night as I lie in bed, I review the day and remember some of their trying and remarkable answers—their stories. I can’t go to sleep. And it’s not due to jet lag.

Brian Crawford

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sharing HOPE with others

Today Project HOPE announced a new and innovative way for fans, friends and donors of Project HOPE to friendraise and fundraise. Much like social fundraising sites used during the 2008 election, this new tool will allow you to create your own fundraising page. The page can be used to describe what HOPE means to you, highlight the causes that interest you the most, and provide a quick and easy way for people you care about to donate to HOPE. In just a few minutes, you can create and share your page with others, who can then pass it on! Please take the time to check out this new social tool and create your own page by visiting Project HOPE.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Meet the Project HOPE Volunteers in South Africa

From October 10-26, four Project HOPE volunteers are participating in a pilot volunteer program focusing on chronic disease assessment in two urban slums in the vicinity of Johannesburg.

Dr. Brian Crawford, an emergency room doctor from Colorado Springs, Colorado has more than 12 years of experience. This is his third time volunteering for Project HOPE, previously serving in Indonesia immediately following the Tsunami in 2005 and earlier this year he joined HOPE volunteers in Ghana. He is working as and ER physician in South Africa.

Eric Dinally, from Brooklyn, New York, is a first-time volunteer for Project HOPE. Eric is currently employed at New York Presbyterian Hospital and is an active volunteer in his community. He is also working on his masters in nursing. He will be working as an RN in South Africa.

Torrey Flynn, a first-time Project HOPE volunteer, is a recent master of nursing and pediatric nurse practitioner program graduate from University of Colorado Denver Health Sciences Center. Torrey is working as a nurse practitioner in South Africa. She currently lives in Cape Town, South Africa.

Michelle Pena from San Francisco, has participated in two volunteer missions for Project HOPE, first serving in Latin America onboard the USNS Comfort in 2007 and again returning to Latin America onboard the USS Kearsarge in 2008. She is currently working on her Master in Public Health, Epidemiology and Master of Arts, Latin American Studies at San Diego State University. In South Africa, Michelle is working as a nurse educator.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Volunteer Video

Project HOPE volunteer Kathleen Martin, a nurse midwife from Driggs, Idaho speaks about her experience at the JFK Memorial Hospital in Monrovia, Liberia in September.

HOPE to send medical volunteers to Indonesia

HOPE to send medical volunteers to Indonesia

Monday, September 21, 2009

Volunteers Complete Liberia Mission

We're home! All safe and sound and with memories of a wonderful experience in Liberia.

The week of classroom instruction was fantastic. The morning and afternoon classes were well-attended -- more than 20 students each session every day -- and the discussion was lively. We presented 45 "certificates of training" to our students. We got to know many of our colleagues outside the classroom, as well, while working on the floors of the JFK Maternity Hospital.

Amanda was able to reinforce the classroom instruction on resuscitation by actually resuscitating a "preemie" who had been delivered by C-section a few hours before.

We also had several opportunities to teach the TNIMA students, who were very eager to have us visit their classrooms. Altogether we had nearly 400 teaching encounters in the short time we were on campus.

Everyone asked when we were coming back. We told them we hope it's soon!

On our last night aboard the Swift, there was a reception for the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. The volunteers were thrilled to be introduced to her and spend a few minutes speaking with this remarkable leader. "It was the thrill of a lifetime," said Amanda, who is originally from Liberia.

The next morning, we disembarked at 0600 and watched the Swift sail away. Then we began our marathon journey home, starting with an overnight flight from Monrovia to Brussels, and from there some of us went to New York (JFK Airport, naturally) and Atlanta. We all brought home a piece of Liberia in our hearts.

Thanks for reading…Tom Stanton

Thursday, September 10, 2009

HOPE Volunteers Provide Education to Eager Students at JFK in Liberia

On Labor Day – a propos! – the “Hopies” began presenting a midwifery “training update” course at the JFK Memorial Medical Center. We have 45 “students” – 23 midwives, 17 nurses, and 5 nurse-midwives – with experience ranging from 3 to 27 years of practice. I’m going to call them students even though they are professionals in the truest sense and we have learned from them each day.

The group is split into morning and afternoon sections and meets in a well-ventilated conference room about 30 feet by 15 feet, located in the mental health resource center on the ground floor of the Memorial Hospital. Just down the hall, classes are held for the first-year midwife students of the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA). TNIMA was founded in 1945, and 30 of our students are alumna. Most of those 30 have 11 years or less experience, a handful have 20 or more years’ experience. Only two have between 11 and 20 years experience – that decade was a time when civil conflict was at its worst, when studying to save lives most difficult.

At the far end of the building is the School of Nursing. We walk past it every time we go to and from the Maternity Hospital. The faces of the students there reflect an atmosphere of learning and eagerness to progress. Of all the students we’ve met, none are more eager than 18 of the first-year TNIMA class. They waited for our afternoon session to end today (Wednesday) so that we could teach them the unit on newborn resuscitation. I have a feeling that isn’t the only class they’ll want us to teach them. I was touched by how several of them said to us, “God bless you for coming here to teach us.”

Speaking of units, here’s the curriculum the Project HOPE volunteers are teaching in addition to newborn resuscitation: determining gestational age, antepartum hemorrhaging, hypertensive disorders, Apgar scoring, partogram, shoulder dystocia, malaria in pregnancy, active management of the 3rd stage/postpartum hemorrhage, and more.

We had a guest speaker at today’s resuscitation sessions – Dr. Venee Tubman, a pediatrician from Boston Children’s. She’s the granddaughter of the T in TNIMA; he was the president of Liberia. She is here as a volunteer for two months and has a highly engaging personality. Everywhere I look, there are positive people here!

Thanks for reading…Tom Stanton

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor (and Delivery) Day Weekend in Monrovia

The Project HOPE team arrived at JFK bright and early on Friday morning. The first stop was a meeting with Dr. Wilhelmina Jallah, the head of OB/GYN at the Maternity Hospital, and her nursing supervisors.

They are very happy to have us here. Dr. Jallah explained that the hospital will be undergoing a total renovation starting in a few months, courtesy of the Japanese government. The Japanese also carried out the original construction. The Chinese government is funding a renovation project in the Memorial Hospital, and there is a year-round Chinese medical presence as well.

After the meeting, the Hopies spent several hours working on the units. On the main floor there is an emergency room and an OB/GYN clinic, which were both very busy all day, as well as the labor and delivery room, which is one large room with 7 beds. On the second floor there is an operating room, where Kathleen observed a C-section that went perfectly, and the post-partum and NICU units.

The hospital has a spacious dining room for the doctors and nurses, and they graciously invited us to join them on weekdays for lunch. Chicken (not too spicy), eggplant parmesan, rice and beans (spicy) were on the menu on Friday. All very good!

After lunch, we went over to the Memorial Hospital for the APS (Africa Partnership Station) Donation Ceremony. There were 10 trucks lined up outside carrying the pallets of donated goods that had been transported on the Swift. There was a red carpet and a receiving line with Navy, U.S. Embassy and Liberian government officials awaiting the arrival of Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia. We walked the carpet, shook hands and went inside. The hall was decorated in the colors of the Liberian and American flags – red, white and blue. The Liberian flag has 6 red stripes and 5 white stripes, representing the 11 counties, and one large white star on a navy blue field. (As in Texas, there are many businesses and products called “lonestar” this or that.) There were balloons hanging from the ceiling and an entire wall was draped in crepe paper. A live band was playing local pop music. Reggae beat.
Some of it was English; some in a dialect that I still have to figure out. There was a press contingent of a dozen reporters and cameramen.

When Madame President entered, a man blew a horn painted red, white and blue. Mrs. Vera Cooper, the acting administrator of the medical center, gave the welcoming statement, then there were remarks by the U.S. Embassy ChargĂ© d’Affairs and the acting Minister of Health, followed by remarks from President Sirleaf and a ribbon cutting.

It’s clear from this level of attention that JFK is a high priority for the government. One can imagine the entire complex being restored to its former glory and becoming a beacon of hope for the population.

It’s very satisfying for us as Project HOPE volunteers to be part of the vanguard.

On Saturday, we spent some time in the morning preparing lectures and then we went to the Maternity Hospital after lunch. Amanda, Jen and Kathleen worked in the ER and on the wards; the clinic isn’t open on weekends. We got back to the ship around 4:30 and about an hour later the military medical team finally arrived. Their transport had been delayed 3 days, giving them “bonus” stays in Italy, Spain and Cape Verde. As fun as that sounds, we’re glad we took commercial flights from the States! It would have been hard getting ready for the course to begin on Monday had we lost all those days.

Sunday was a “cultural” day. The ladies went to church with Amanda and her family and the Navy provided a BBQ with a live band on the pier in the afternoon and evening.

Happy Labor Day! It will be labor and delivery day for us…Tom Stanton

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Greetings from Monrovia,Liberia!

A team of Project HOPE volunteers arrived here by airplane on Wednesday afternoon -- with all of their luggage! They will be supporting the Africa Partnership Station 2009 mission for the next two weeks.

Amanda is originally from Liberia and is excited to be coming back for the first time in more than 10 years and for the first time ever as a nurse here. Jen and Kathleen will be team-teaching a midwifery course. All will be helping write protocols for several departments in the maternity hospital at the JFK Medical Center. Read the volunteer bios!

JFK is a large campus -- at least 20 acres -- on the Atlantic coast on the south side of the city. There is a sign posted at the main gate expressing condolences to the Kennedy family on the passing of Senator Kennedy. The largest building is the Memorial Hospital -- four stories high with many windows that allow refreshing breezes to enter the wards. It opened in 1972,while the maternity hospital opened in 1981 and is about to undergo a major renovation in a few months. It's obvious all the facilities are still recovering from more than two decades of national conflict, which ended only a few years ago. The hospital's motto is "embracing the past and carving a new future." We hope our work here will help brighten that future.

The Hopies have settled in to their home away from home -- the HVS2 Swift, a "wave piercing catamaran". We won't be testing her capabilities, though, as we will be docked at the pier for the entire mission. The Swift has been deployed since July,delivering medical supplies to several West African countries. Liberia is the only port of call where medical services will be provided -- a team of about 25 military health care providers is joining us on Friday night. They will be working at other sites around the city and in the countryside.

We're looking forward to a ceremony tomorrow at which the president of Liberia will speak.

Stay tuned! Tom Stanton

Check back as we continue to document Project HOPE volunteers as they work around the world......and please support our dedicated medical volunteers.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Arrive In Liberia

Everything is in place for an excellent two week mission here at the JFK. The Navy has been very welcoming and the JFK administration is familiar with HOPE and is very excited to have us back.

Our midwifery team will be working at the Maternity Hospital within the JFK campus and have a solid plan in place for getting a lot of work done along with the capstone midwifery course. The team is very excited and this really does promise to be an excellent mission.

--Submitted by Matthew Peterson, Project HOPE Mission Coordinator

Volunteers Tom Stanton, Jennifer Oh, Amanda Cooper-Lawrence and Kathleen Martin stand out front of the HSV Swift docked in the port of Monrovia.

Volunteers Kathleen Martin, Jennifer Oh and Amanda Cooper-Lawrence meet their counterparts in the labor and delivery ward of the JFK Hospital in Monrovia.

Check back as we continue to document Project HOPE volunteers as they work around the world......and please support our dedicated medical volunteers.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Meet the Project HOPE Volunteers in Liberia

As one set of Project HOPE volunteers continues work in the Oceania region of the world aboard the USNS Richard E. Byrd, four new volunteers from Project HOPE are joining the U.S. Navy aboard the HSV Swift on a health education and humanitarian assistance mission in Liberia.

The HOPE volunteers in Liberia are working at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Monrovia alongside their counterparts in the labor and delivery ward and offering health education classes to midwives at the hospital.

Amanda Cooper-Lawrence is a first time Project HOPE volunteer from New York Presbyterian Medical Center in New York, New York. She has worked as a labor and delivery nurse for 14 years. In Liberia, Amanda is volunteering as a labor and delivery nurse.

Kathleen Martin, a nurse midwife from Driggs, Idaho is a first-time Project HOPE volunteer. Her extensive experience includes work as a nurse practitioner, owner of a midwifery service, attorney at law, director of a midwife center and a midwife consultant in Afghanistan for USAID Reach. Currently she is a nurse midwife with an obstetrics and gynecology practice with hospital privileges at Madison Memorial Hospital in Idaho. In Liberia, Kathleen will be working as a midwife.

Jennifer Oh is a certified nurse midwife from Lawndale Christian Health Center in Chicago, Illinois. Prior to working as a midwife, Jen worked as a registered nurse in women's health and in pediatrics. Jen is participating in her second volunteer mission for Project HOPE. Earlier this year she volunteered in Ghana aboard the USS Nashville. In Liberia, she will be working as a midwife.

Tom Stanton, a former VP and Senior Counsel for Marriott International, Inc., is a on his second mission for Project HOPE. Earlier this year, he spent two months aboard the USNS Comfort, working closely with volunteers serving as HOPE’s public affairs officer and operations officer in Haiti, Dominican Republic and Antigua. In Liberia, Tom will be volunteering in the same capacity. Tom is from Kensington, Maryland.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Health Education, Kiribati Style

Originally uploaded by Pacific Partnership

Written by Stephen Creasy from the RXprojecthope Blog

Kiribati (August 29, 2009) On Saturday I attended a health fair confident I could lend some support based off previous experience with APhA health fairs at the school. What I wasn't counting on was this fair being Kiribati style. Instead of having patients walk through the various stations and be screened, the I-Kiribati prefer to educate through song and dance. This made for an interesting afternoon as the Navy and U.S. Public Health Service healthcare providers were forced to come up with skits on the fly.

Another important thing to note is the difference between the Navy's definition of time, if you're on time you're late, and the I-Kiribati definition of time, it'll happen when it happens.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Joshua Valcarcel

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Project HOPE Volunteers Continue Work in Oceania Region

Originally uploaded by Pacific Partnership

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (August 16, 2009) Alla Marks, a pharmacist from Project HOPE, explains the medication prescribed to a patient during a Pacific Partnership 2009 Medical Civic Action Project held at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Pacific Partnership completed humanitarian and health education work in the Solomon Islands and volunteers and U.S. Navy counterparts are now working in Kiribati.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Joshua Valcarcel