First Reflection Meeting Experience (Posted for September 1st)
One of the main aspects of the Essential Package (EP) involves training volunteers to visit the homes of the most vulnerable families in the villages. While working with SAFE, one of my main activities is attending monthly reflection meetings with the home visitors. This is a chance for the home visitors to come together and “reflect” on the activities/visits they have had over the past month. They can discuss successes, challenges, and help each other work out similar problems that they’ve encountered. This past week I was able to attend my first one.
There were a variety of stories shared. In particular, one home visitor described a home headed by a teen mother. It was discovered that the mother had hidden her baby in the home for most of the time, ashamed because the baby had a disability. Due to the encouragement of the home visitor, the grandmother was able to adopt the disabled baby and take them to receive medical attention. The baby is now able to sit on its own and turn towards sounds. The baby is now receiving supplemental foods such as formula and peanut butter.
Some of the challenges mentioned included the weight/size of the EP materials that the home visitors have to carry with them (w/ no bags), and the families expecting a gift to be brought with each visit. But many visitors mentioned how proud they are of the fact that they can see positive changes each time they return to a household. A lot of households are removing hazards from homes, seeking out medical care when needed (including HIV/AIDS testing), and many of their children are attending the CBCCs (Community Based Care Centers). The availability of pit latrines in households has increased – before the EP program some of the families were defecating in the bush outside their homes.
It is so encouraging to see all the positive changes that are happening here due to the EP, and also to see how actually “going and seeing” (a GEMBA!) is really making a difference. Although there are still challenges that remain, it does seem that we are moving in the right direction. It’s great to see that this project is accepted and welcomed by the majority of people in the villages. I’m excited to see what other improvements the EP will bring to the lives of the people here.