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