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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Mel's Project Reflections - Cohort 7!

The Strengthening Families project is divided into two parts; Ludoteca (which means learning through play) and Fortalacimiento Familiar (which means strengthening families). Ludoteca focuses on teaching children in the centres and running workshops with parents on topics such as recycling. Fortalacimiento Familiar focuses on raising awareness of STD’s and encouraging people to get tested for diseases such as cervical cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV. Both projects have developed a lot in the last 6 months, and I am very excited about the work of this cohort and the further development of the project.

 In the past cohorts the Ludoteca team carried out lessons on different topics each day however, due to the young age of the children, we have learnt that it is more effective for the volunteers to focus on one topic throughout their time here. This cohort, each volunteer is going to develop a module on one topic, which can then be used by educators in different centres and by future volunteers. The Ludoteca team from the last cohort began a research project on how to teach young children science. We will continue this with the current cohort and will test out teaching methods to see how effective they are. This research will be used by Aldeas Infantiles in the future. 

 Mariam Malik, a volunteer from Ludoteca in cohort 5, initiated the use of a behaviour chart in her centre to address the challenge of effective behaviour management. This has proven to be an on-going difficulty, not just for Mariam but for many educators and past groups of volunteers teaching in centres. A volunteer from the last cohort, Stephanie Hovey who studied Child Development, carried out research into the behaviour of the children in our centres. Stephanie produced a guide on how to manage behaviour that is to be distributed to all the children’s centres that ICS/IS works with in Bolivia. It will also be a useful resource for future volunteers who work with young children. Ludoteca now focuses on behaviour management by using behaviour charts in the centres we work in to try to improve behaviour. 

Fortalacimiento Familiar has developed drastically in the last cohort, expanding from awareness about Papanicalau (PAP; the virus that causes cervical cancer) to awareness about breast cancer, prostate cancer and HIV. While in the past we held PAP awareness presentations and PAP testing days for parents at the Children’s Centres with CIES clinic (a private health clinic), we now also work with the local public health centres, accompanying mothers to the centres to get tested rather than bringing the doctor and nurse to the children’s centres to carry out the tests. In this cohort we are planning to work with the Ministry of Health (MoH) and involve the whole community by arranging meetings in community centres through the MoH and carrying out awareness presentations. We also hope to hold PAP days for the whole community at the public health centres. 

The team - Francine, Kirsty, Lizzie, Mel, April, Mirna and Favio
Rebecca Soundy, a volunteer from the Entrepreneurial Education project with Aldeas Infantiles, developed a module for young children on nutrition, which we are going to use in Fortalacimiento Familiar team’s centres this cohort. 

Research, module building, recycling workshops, nutrition activities, sexual health workshops, STD awareness workshops, a new partnership with the Ministry of Health, and getting as many people PAP tested as possible; we have a lot on our plate for the next 2 months and a great team to do it! I look forward to reporting how it all goes at the end of March. 

Written by Mel Jenkins 
Edited by Sarah Cassidy

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