Monday, April 6, 2009

A Better House for Better Health

What a humbling and inspiring afternoon! I went out with GyC, our health project partner, in the absolute worst rain I have seen all year. The streets of Cajamarca turned into dirty rivers as the drainage system unleashed itself upon the city. With the GyC crew we nearly had to swim in the brown river in a little VW bug to escape the city and head out to our first countryside group. We will be working with 5 village banks to help them make improvements on their homes and thus improve their health and today was the first group visit. We arrived to the group and began the set-up of laptop and projector immediately, as the rain kept us from arriving on time (which is all relative in Peru). The group we met with today consisted of 8 women and a bunch of kids and on-lookers. The GyC team did an absolutely fantastic job of explaining what our health project hopes to accomplish this year and that we want to invite families that want to participate in the improvement of their homes to join us in this project.

The main objectives of project: 1) Lower incidences of respiratory infections and 2) lower incidences of diarrhea.
The main idea: By improving the health and cleanliness of the house the objectives (stated above) will naturally occur, this is what studies show.

The health promotoras will help families clean up and organize their kitchen (ex. put plates on the wall in a wooden holder instead of on the ground), educate about animal husbandry (and animals not living in the house with people) and hygiene and sanitation issues. But the big AAAhhh getter was the improved mud stove, or cocina mejorada. The women, as soon as they saw pictures of what the stove looks like - and that they would have one in their own kitchen! - it was like everyone was on a game show and they had just won the grand prize. Ohhh. Ahhh. Ohhh. Seriously. Currently, many of the women cook on the ground with big stones that hold their pots in place over an open fire. The improved mud stove would save cooking wood, decreases smoke (thus decreasing respiratory infections) and saves money too. The next step is for each family to interview with the health promotors to find out if the entire family is committed to working to create a better, healthier home - including the grand prize - improved mud stove! See model stove below, only missing the top metal covering and final touches.

Paz ~ Nora

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