*DISCLAIMER* Don’t worry this isn’t what you think it’s going to be! I am not writing to inform the entire world wide web that I have acquired a new greedy tenant in my colon and my bowel movements have become embarrassingly erratic. Nope, I am writing about teaching so this blog post is definitely SFW (safe for work).
Today was our second session of teaching the new Health, Hygiene, and Grooming class to the parents of Tulipdale Public School. Last year the program received feedback that the school thought the parents would benefit from a grooming course. Having never been done before in the program, the curriculum was up to our interpretation. We received guidance from the GWHT Fellows in the form of an outline of basic topics to cover. Besides that we were told that we could structure the class however we saw fit.
Our first class last week was a little rocky. We all felt like we were lecturing the mothers on information they already knew. This week we were determined to do better. Swathi, Dottie, and I looked up common illnesses in India and split up the research. We decided to go through the signs, symptoms, causes, and treatments of each as well as ideas for preventative measures. Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Typhoid all made the top of the list. Before class started we wrote these on the blackboard along with a drawing of a mosquito and my assigned illness: intestinal parasites. Swathi introduced the class topic and quickly got into talking about Malaria and ways to prevent mosquito bites. The mothers in the class nodded their heads before the translator began speaking in Bengali. Clearly we underestimated their knowledge of Malaria. When we tried to continue, one mother asked our translator to ask if we could tell them what intestinal parasites were. In an attempt to avoid the fiasco of last week we immediately skipped the entire list and I started on intestinal parasites. I showed them pictures and described the symptoms of each common parasite. They scribbled down every symptom and name. Then I got to my blurb about treatment. I started with the usual “go immediately to the hospital”, do not pass go, do not collect 200 dollars mumbo jumbo and I saw their faces lose interest. I nervously looked down at my notes for something that wasn’t telling them to seek immediate professional medical (read: expensive) help and my eyes fell on the magical word that would solve all my troubles: “papaya”. Specifically I saw “papaya seeds and honey”, but I think my mind isolated papaya because I hate them and think they taste like feet. I guess intestinal parasites and I have that in common because a thoroughly researched at-home remedy used to get rid of them is to eat a LOT of papaya seeds and honey. I blurted out this and other options that did not involve transportation to a doctor and it seemed to catch the mothers’ attention. They wrote these down and asked for details about quantity and frequency. Dottie, Swathi, and I saw this as a sign and ran with it. We quickly looked up common at-home substitutions for antiseptic cream, lice shampoo, bug repellent, etc. The rest of the class flew by and I even had to be reminded nicely to stop talking because time was up. I would definitely describe today’s class as a success.
Today we learned that what we think these parents should learn isn’t always the information that is most relevant or useful to them. We came into the class and the program with the idea that we had to change everything these people thought was right about the world and we were wrong. We can’t expect them to take their child to a doctor or a hospital every time they have diarrhea or a stuffy nose. That’s not really an option. We have to provide them with information and help them use the resources they do have to create a healthy and happy environment for their families.