It is hard to believe it is June already and there are only two months left of my volunteer service! The relationships I have made with the community have been life changing and ones that I will hold onto closely beyond my time here. I am already planning trips back! Fortunately, I have some exciting projects coming up.
An MPH student from Vanderbilt, Jessica, just arrived and I will be working with her the next two months to set up a health promotion program in our community of Cedro Galan. First, Jessica and I will be performing a community health assessment while community mapping (i.e. scouting out different stores, green spaces, etc). This will give us a good idea of what we need to focus on for our health promotion program and the true community health needs.
So far, I have been working on health education materials in our clinic, such as brochures, pamphlets, posters, etc. However, this health promotion program will be taken a step further. After our assessments we will construct a health training curriculum in which we can train five community members who will become our health promoters. This is a great way to involve community members in their health needs and in preventing a lot of diseases. Partnering with the community is key! The five health promoters will go house to house and teach community members what they learned during our trainings in the hopes of improving health on a large scale.
Jessica and I are hoping to focus our program on preventable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes, which are major issues in our community. While we have seen this as a major health implication, it is still necessary to gather the appropriate data to back our hypothesis.
Overall, we are hoping to decrease the consumption of salt and sugar, increase green space and educate our community members on the easy ways to prevent diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. I am so excited for this project and know it will be a great way to end my time with Manna Project International.
Natalie is a Christianson Grant recipient from the InterExchange Foundation volunteering in Nicaragua with the Manna Project International, a nonprofit organization committed to holistic community development in Latin America.