…my service in Benin and the opportunity to have been a part of something special this last year and a half.
…my family and friends and getting to see them a few months earlier than originally planned!
…my fiance and how incredibly supportive he’s been both during my service and in these last few weeks of tough decisions.
…all my fellow PCVs and RPCVs who make this whole experience worth while, fun, and helped keep me motivated and passionate.
…the PC-Benin administration folks who have been there for us and helped make the process of leaving bearable and smooth.
And, yes, I am thankful for AMERICA and having the wonderful opportunities and incredibly lucky happenstances that come from being an American (and the food there is AWESOME).
Go eat some turkey now!
And for any interested parties, here’s my DOS (Description of Service) for my time in the Peace Corps. It’s been real, Benin!
Elaina Hope ________
Description of Service
July 2010-November 2011
REPUBLIC OF BENIN, WEST AFRICA
Pre-Service Learning (July 14 – September 17, 2010)
1 Language (87 hours) Classroom study of French; current level: Advanced Low.
2 Technical Training (118 hours) Overview of Beninese healthcare system, comprehensive training on integrated disease management, maternal health, and infant and child health; 10 hours practice trainings and activities in the community.
3 Cross-Culture (35.15 hours) Discussion on Beninese history, geography and, traditions; professional and social culturally appropriate behavior and communication.
4 Health (22.5 hours) First aid, preventive and symptom oriented medical procedure, diagnosis and treatment.
5 Safety and Security (8.5 hours) Instruction on safety practices in Benin and ways to stay secure at post as well as incident reporting procedures.
In-Service Training (December 2010): An intensive two week training that reviewed strategies for community assessment, funding streams, and provided and introduction to promoting behavior change. Instruction also focused on PD Hearth, a nutritional recuperation program and Life Skills, a Peace Corps resource designed to promote communication skills that will enable healthy decision making.
In-Service Training (May 2011): A five-day training on community mobilization for malaria prevention and organizing populations to become health resources and leaders in their community.
PRIMARY PROJECT: RURAL COMMUNITY HEALTH PROGRAM (RCH)
Population Services International (September 2010-November 2011): Worked primarily with the office of PSI-Djougou assisting the communications director with social marketing and health education programming in the regions of the Atacora and Donga. Assisted with the smooth operation of the office and compiled monthly reports and tracking of impacts on the community in the areas of reproductive health and HIV/AIDS peer education trainings. Accompanied PSI on regional formations, assisting with logistics and documentation of activities and progress as well as the synthesis of gathered information and reporting. Assisted the office staff with learning English and regularly participated in translations of documents and paperwork.
HIV/AIDS and Reproductive Health (October 2010-November 2011): Assisted nurses midwives with the placing of contraceptive devices such as upper arm contraception implants, sexual health consultations, and HIV/AIDS testing and counseling. Participated in discussions of healthy relationships and sexual behavior with community women including condom demonstrations and other family planning options.
Vaccination and Baby Weighing (January 2011): Participated in the facilitation of discussions with community women about healthy nutrition for their newborns and children during baby weighing sessions and weekly vaccinations. Helped nurses and health workers track infants’ progress on growth charts and described healthy meals and options to mothers as well as information about exclusive breastfeeding and malaria prevention.
Pre-Natal Consultation Assistance (September-November 2010): Assisted with Pre-Natal consultation at the maternity center with procedures in conjunction with health workers.
Peace Corps Volunteer Discussion Day (October 2011): Spent the day talking to high school students in the United States while on vacation, discussing cultural life and development work in Benin and answering questions about the application process, life abroad, and social media while in the Peace Corps.
Running Club (October 2010-September 2011): Had semi-weekly informal running sessions with local kids and adolescents and talked about the importance of regular exercise and nutrition.
English Instruction (March-September 2011): Provided informal lessons of English language instruction with community members and colleagues.
Science, Engineering, and Entrepreneurial Camp (August 2011): Acted as the lead science instructor for a two week course of 60 middle school aged kids. Discussed theory and practice of basic science concepts and designed and implemented several science projects (water rocket, solar water distillation, terrarium, science of sound). Assisted kids with the presentation skills necessary to inform and recreate the projects on their own and oversaw the final community science fair.
Camp GLOW Bohicon (July 2011): Participated in five day empowerment camp for girls as a camp counselor. Facilitated sexual and reproductive health sessions and assisted with the smooth operation of the camp.
Camp Success Djougou (June 2011): Invited girls to participate in the week long girls’ empowerment camp and was a logistics coordinator during the week. Developed and facilitated several sessions, including life skills and women’s rights. Designed sexual and reproductive health sessions and assisted a local midwife with answering questions. Maintained copies and information of projects and progress for sustainability and posterity of future girls’ camps in the region.
PS. I think my Peace Corps/application time is going to be categorized under ‘premed life’ and I’m going to add a MS0 category for these next few months, post acceptance but pre MS1 (Med School year 1). I know it’s silly, but it’ll be helpful in distinguishing posts later.
See you all on the flip side,