No products in the cart.

Category: Community Health Workers in Action

12
20232024BlogCommunity Health WorkersCommunity Health Workers in ActionImpactInternational HELP ProjectsMake a DifferenceOrganization UpdatesRecapStoriesTestimoniesUpdatesZimbabwe

One Year Later: Zimbabwe Updates

One Year Later: Zimbabwe Updates

After a year, we officially returned to Zimbabwe! I am so excited to update you on our Community Health Workers (CHWs) and share my love for Gwanda with you all. If you have not already, be sure to read Fatou’s blog from last year’s trip to get a good background on our Zimbabwe projects. This year, Fatou was not able to join me. So, Ashley, our current Fellow, braved the 16-hour flights and traveled to Zimbabwe for the first time.

Health Worker Updates

The CHWs in Gwanda and Garanyemba have been some of the most active health workers I have personally worked with. The Gwanda group has met every month since December 2022 and hosted different community events where they’ve provided TB, HIV/AIDS, and high blood pressure screening and education sessions. The Garanyemba group is more rural and thus has a different set of barriers to meeting monthly. However, this group has still remained active in their community by acting as a referral system to their local clinic, providing first-aid to farmers with work injuries, and screening for high blood pressure. After many WhatsApp messages, pictures, and videos, I was ecstatic to return in person to hear their stories and continue cheering them on in their work!

Maternal Health Certification

International HELP has spent the last couple of years expanding its training materials and capacities to provide the existing groups of Community Health Workers (CHWs) with advanced certifications. We have two active certifications (nutrition and maternal health) and are currently working on two more (WASH and first aid). 

The maternal health certification focuses on ways health workers can help pregnant mothers in their community have a healthy pregnancy. However, additional topics are also discussed, such as how to help during a labor emergency, postnatal and neonatal care, and common childhood illnesses. In the end, we certified 14 CHWs in Garanyemba and 11 CHWs in Gwanda in Advanced Maternal Health. 

My favorite aspect of this training was seeing our CHWs again! We pulled up to the church in Garanyemba on day one and our group leader, Godfrey, came running out of the church ready for a big hug. It brought me so much joy to be able to return to their rural community and show just how important they are to us. I also got to meet new members of our group (see the image above). Last year, our CHW Future was pregnant. Now, her child is a key member of our training team!

In Gwanda, each day was filled with a photo shoot to remember the time we were able to spend together. The weather was surprisingly very cold for a few days. So, unfortunately, Ashley and I are wearing the same sweatshirt and pants in every picture.

Growth in Confidence

Another aspect of this training that brought me a lot of joy was seeing the growth in confidence each of our Community Health Workers (CHWs) showed. During last year’s training, both groups participated and asked many questions. However, this year was a whole different level. The groups were better engaged with us as trainers and with each other. You could evidently see that their engagement with the community and working together as a team had improved their confidence in themselves. The training was such a joy as the CHWs asked so many questions and were so engaged. Many shared how they are now “famous” in their communities as everyone knows they can go seek out health advice from the CHWs. They wish to continue becoming even more sought after with their new maternal health knowledge.

Edu Foundation

Once again, our community partner, Edu Foundation, welcomed us into Gwanda with open arms and loving spirits. To say they welcomed us in as family would be an understatement. Ashley and I were blown away by the care and hospitality shown towards us. Each morning, we would wake up to our host, Sikho, knocking on our door to let us know our warm showers were ready. Every day, our trusted driver Vincent would taxi us to and from training. Vincent and Ma-Moyo would join us each day at training to help us, but also to learn about maternal health. After training, we would head back to their offices and arrive to Vincent’s daughters preparing our lunch. In the afternoon, our besties Jerry, Mayor, and Sengezo would entertain us with card games, walks around town, or introduce us to their friends. In the evening, the men would take turns cooking us dinner or we would go to Vincent’s house to help his wife and daughters prepare dinner. Each night would usually end with a heated game of cards!

We are so grateful to have such a wonderful family in Gwanda! Without Edu Foundation, the success of our CHW training would not have been possible. We look forward to visiting them again soon!

Madeleine & Jerry

Madeleine, Vincent, Sikho, and Ashley at the Garanyemba training

Free day swim with Jerry, Sikho, and Mayor

Cooking Lessons with Vincent’s Family

Photoshoot with Sengezo (@black_is_black_21) & our Edu Foundation Team

Nightly card tournaments with Sikho and Jerry

Mosi-Oa-Tunia

We ventured back to Mosi-Oa-Tunia (Victoria Falls), but this time we were able to bring the entire Edu Foundation team! It was so much fun for us to get to spend that time with them, learn more about their stories, and hear more about the work they are doing for Zimbabwe.

Sometimes I find it easy to doubt the work we do. Are the health workers actually using their knowledge? Is anything changing in the community? Yet, trips like this encourage me that we are doing good work! The health workers are using their knowledge and lives in the community are changing. We heard story after story of how different community members have been affected by the CHWs. I hope some of these short testimonies can encourage you all as well:

“The training that was so fascinating and an eye opener to all of us as a group and I believe it will help our community as everyone. We thank you very much for the materials, the time committed and your much love as an organisation for raising our Gwanda and Zimbabwe flag high in bringing the best out of us and making our community free from diseases and dangers that we will/ shall prevent from spreading and that is a big thank you.” – Alice

We want to thank you so much because of the trainings and materials that you are giving us and we are gaining a lot. Also we appreciate the knowledge that you are giving us. It helps a lot for our communities. Thank you so so much.” – Chipo

“I would like to thank International HELP for the education on pregnant women, pre and postnatal care because it was so educational, and will help my community a lot since there were a lot of deaths happening in my community both on moms and their babies…We appreciate the love, the care, and the education we are getting from IHELP as community workers. Thank you so much.” – Kimberley

I am so grateful for the wonderful support system International HELP has. Without you, none of these stories would be possible. I am honored that you trust us with your donations and continue to find ways to cheer us on. Thank you!

Madeleine Burkholder, MPH, CPH

  Program Coordinator

7066488F-27BF-4B28-9A9C-172555CAE57D
2023BlogCommunity Health Workers in ActionEl SalvadorInternational HELP ProjectsOrganization Updates

Bridging the Diagnostic Gap in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

We recently implemented our first Advanced Training in Nutrition with a Community Health Worker (CHW) team in El Salvador. A primary part of the training was providing the CHWs with glucometers to aid in diabetes screening and diagnoses in their community. While much of our training focuses on preventing illness and disease, there is a great need to increase diagnostic capabilities in communities around the world.

Dr. Daniel Bausch is the Director of Emerging Threats and Global Health Security at FIND, the global alliance for diagnostics. In an article, written by Nurith Aizenman, Bausch explains that “Most of the people in the world who are sick or dying of something don’t actually know what they have…And it’s not only these – if you will – ‘exotic’ viruses like Ebola and Marburg and Lassa,” for which the diagnostic options are not particularly good.¹ “Most people don’t know if they have tuberculosis or diabetes or hypertension,” he says. “The diagnostic gap, especially at the primary healthcare level in low-income countries, is huge.

Our Advanced Nutrition Training was created to bridge this diagnostic gap. Bausch continues, “If you look at how many people who have diabetes, know that they have diabetes – it’s less than 50% in many low- and middle-income countries.” With such limited access to diagnostic measures, providing our CHWs with glucometers can allow the communities of El Sunza and El Amate, El Salvador to have diabetes diagnostic abilities available directly to them. We are so excited to continue implementing our Advanced Nutrition Training in our other CHW groups to continue providing them with health knowledge and the ability to prevent, diagnose, and treat different diseases.

 

Madeleine Burkholder, MPH, CPH, IHELP Fellow

clasped-hands-comfort-hands-people-45842
2020BlogCommunity Health WorkersCommunity Health Workers in ActionEmpowerImpact

The Importance of Empowerment

Audia F., International HELP MPH Intern, shares her perspective on how International HELP fosters an environment of empowerment and individual growth. There is always more to what meets the eye in each community and not every challenge is the same.

 

Community Health Workers Provide Extra Hands in Areas with Few Resources

Many times, health systems fail due to lack of access to care, lack of resources, and lack of knowledge of health professionals. In my 18+ years of working in the healthcare industry, I have found there are great benefits in obtaining increased knowledge and having a few more extra hands that are willing to help as opposed to working short-staffed. It increases your performance level which enables you to provide good quality care which in turn, leads to a more healthy population. Community Health Workers are the key members of the health team by assisting in all of these areas of concern.

The beauty of it all is the return investment in having a community that is empowered to get healthy and to stay healthy
Community Health Workers are typically found working in underprivileged areas where there is a lack of resources; far away health facilities, lack access to quality healthcare, and have cultural or religious beliefs that may hinder the type of services that can be received. You also have to keep in mind that these workers merely volunteer their services and do not receive monetary compensation. I find this to be the most admirable thing one can do, having the desire to help without looking for something in return. The beauty of it all is the return on investment in having a community that is empowered to get healthy and stay healthy.

Empowering Locals for Health Improvement

International HELP’s mission is to educate and empower local people to develop their own communities for health improvement. Through this initiative, Community Health Workers are given the knowledge and the confidence they need to be valuable assets in their communities. Working with International Help has been a great experience. It is so fulfilling to be associated with an organization that aims to be a part of lifelong change.

– Audia F., MPH Intern