Monday, December 8, 2014

TRI University: New Schedule, New Ride, No Social Life

For our first day of practice, we had a lot of informational sessions. We rotated to different stations where they told us about the workout schedule, nutrition, equipment, core exercises and fundraising. It was a lot of information to take in at once! But, some very important and informative stuff.

Fundraising:
They shared some fundraising ideas with us. I had heard of most of these already. So, I am still very nervous about raising enough money. Any and all ideas are always welcome!
 
Core:
We have a coach who is dedicated specifically to our CORES. The core affects any sport that we make our bodies do. It can make all of the difference in a bike ride. And you can really injure yourself if you try to do something and your core cannot support it. So, we have core workouts throughout the week. We did some practice exercises: squats, superman's, planks (I HATE PLANKS!!!). 
 
Workout Schedule:
They gave us our workouts for the first couple of weeks. It seems very doable. There are some people that said they don't even know how to swim yet! So, there are workouts for beginner, intermediate and advanced with each sport. Here's a look at my first week:


So, expect some updates about the training!

Nutrition:
I was a little disappointed in this section so far. It's only the beginning though, so I hope there's more information to come during the season! They talked about hydration during training and ways to get extra help (sports drinks, electrolyte pills, etc.). This shouldn't be a problem for me. I drink a lot of water normally...this is probably not helpful with my small bladder issues!
Then, they discussed foods you can eat during workouts and the race. This is mainly gels, snack bars, nuts, etc. And after workouts you should have a recovery drink of some sort that contains proteins and carbs.
And that was all for now! When signing up, they mentioned that you would need to commit to a nutrition plan for the 4 months. I thought they were going to lecture us on healthy eating and maybe even provide guidelines for caloric intake and percentages of food groups to incorporate. But, we just went over nutrition during a workout.
So, I will have to look up some more information about protein powders and come up with a diet of my own! I know that training will be easier and I will become stronger if I am eating healthy and watching what I put into my body.

Gear:
Well, this rotation was a bit discouraging. There are so many things you can buy! It was hard to tell what was a necessity and what was just really cool. As I sat through this session, my mind was exploding with dollar signs and freaking out over how I was going to afford all of this stuff! I have to raise $4,000 and pay a million dollars extra for my equipment?! What have I gotten myself into?!

This picture pretty much sums up my sentiments at that point:
By the way, this stock photo is called "Financial Stress." PERFECT.

I decided to focus on the necessities at this point. What are the things that I should be training on from the beginning? And what can I purchase later on (once my wallet has recovered from the holidays)? 
So, I bought some new running shoes. I wanted a fresh pair that I could train in for the next 4 months and hopefully wear to the race. I've tried a bunch of different brands and models. I've found that these are the most comfortable for me:
Our second day of practice was a bike workshop. We showed them our bikes and we learned a lot about maintenance, setup, road safety, etc. The coaches said my bike I purchased a few months ago would be fine. Well, they basically said any bike that moves forward will work fine. I did learn about a good 15 add-on items that would be essential for my cycle training (compartments to hold tools and food, water bottle holders, pump, CO2 cartridges, extra tubes, gloves, shorts, etc.). The list was long. So, I went to Sports Basement after practice.
They said my bike would work just fine, but I would do better if I had a road bike that was designed for racing. A much lighter frame for aerodynamics and better gear shifting and brakes for the hilly course in Hawaii.
At first, we thought my dad's old racing bike would work because he has a similar inseam measurement as me. We drove home, threw his bike into my car and drove back to Sports Basement. They had me stand over the frame to check the frame height with my inseam. My leg was less than 1 inch too short! If I were to ride that bike, I could injure myself. If my leg could grow ONE inch, I would save over $1,000. If only that were possible!
So, I asked to see the cheapest women's road bike that would work for my Hawaii triathlon. Racing road bikes can be in the $10,000's. The cheapest one they had was over $1,000. With all of the input the experts had to say, I decided that I had no choice. I would have to make the investment now and figure out how to pay for it later. 
Luckily, my training schedule for the next 4 months will really put a damper on my social life. So, there's one less expense!

My beloved "old" bike. I only rode it a few times! I am trying to sell it now.

And my NEW bike! Which I cannot afford, but will have to make it work!

I've already had to invest over $1500 into this triathlon. And there are definitely more expenses to come. So, for now, I need to focus on training and fundraising!

TRI University: Why Am I Here?

TRI University began with some speakers to remind of us why we were all there. I'm really glad they did this because I had begun to forget the real reason that I signed up to do the triathlon through Team in Training. I was getting so caught up in the excitement of beginning training and making sure I had all of the equipment necessary, that it became more about the actual race, and less about the philanthropy involved throughout the training journey.

One speaker was a young, healthy looking, athletic British man. He looked like a runner. So, there was no surprise that he was doing the triathlon; he looked like he would barely need to train! I was expecting him to say that he's doing the triathlon in honor of "ENTER FAMILY MEMBER HERE."

So, it came as a complete shock when he said he himself has a form of blood disease. He said he woke up one morning with some sort of rash on his arm. He went to the dermatologist and they said not to worry about it; it would probably clear up in a bit. Then, he went to another doctor a few months later and mentioned the rash on his arm that had not gone away. This second doctor took the rash more seriously and had some tests done. It was in fact a tumor, and not the only one. He saw a series of different doctors and hospitals, that recommended different "solutions." However, he was eventually told that his disease does not have a cure, so there is no real solution. They will only be able to treat his symptoms, which are upwards of 20 tumors in the upper arm and 15 tumors in the lower arm, all at the same time, one week before a race! The treatments vary; removal and radiation for the most part. An experimental drug trial once. There have been threats of amputation of his arm.

He told us this crazy story of his journey. And throughout all of it, during remission and in-between treatments, he has completed numerous athletic events through Team in Training. He is raising awareness and money towards an end of blood cancer. In addition to his awareness campaign and fundraising efforts, his work is developing treatments for blood cancer. He is a scientist who just received a research grant from LLS to develop a new drug for children with blood cancer. The drug will create a less invasive treatment, so children can still be children. They can still go to school, play with friends, keep their hair!

Other people in the room had honorees that have taken some of the drugs he helped develop. Amazing treatments that have prolonged the lives of many.

This man is a real-life superhero. I cannot believe all of the amazing things he has been able to accomplish in his life. It's a great example of one person's contribution and the amazingly large effect it can have on a greater audience. I am profoundly humbled by his endeavors and positive spirit.

If he can train and compete during radiation treatment, while also developing new treatments for blood cancer, then I can easily complete this one triathlon.

He will be a constant reminder of why I am here, of why I am doing this.

He will be a constant reminder that I need to be grateful for what I have and help others that have less.

Before every practice, they will send us a reminder of why we are doing this. It will be the story of a person we are directly benefiting by being here.

I realized that doing the triathlon partly is for myself- because I wanted to challenge myself and do something athletic like I'd never done before. But MORE importantly, it's for others- the ones who are affected by blood cancers.
For the loved ones who have forms of blood cancer and their bodies are not strong enough to get out there and do a triathlon. I will push my healthy body to do the things that they cannot because of this disease.

For the family members of these people, who will get to spend more time with their loved ones because of treatments that the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are funding with my donations.
I will remember that I am doing this for all of the people out there who are affected by this disease. I will do it because I am able to and they are not.
I will train to TRI so they can SURVIVE! 

I am so grateful for all of the donations I have received so far! I have a long way to go with my fundraising goal. I want to share with you all an idea of where your money is going:

$5  Is the cost of sending a newly diagnosed patient information about their disease and how to get support.
$25  Provides lunch for one at Emerging Therapies, a regional blood cancer conference for patients and families.
$40  Is the cost of sending a comprehensive packet of information for children with cancer.
$50  Will send patients and survivors to Sacramento to lobby for relevant blood cancer legislation.
$100  Provides the Staying Connected Program to one classroom to help pediatric patients transition back to school after treatment.
$150  Allows five patients to make a First Connection with a trained peer volunteer.
$200  Funds one Family Support Group meeting of 5-25 participants.
$500  Provides 10 patients nationwide the ability to log on to a webcast and hear the latest information in treatment for their disease from a renowned oncologist or hematologist. 
$1,000 Supports the Information Resource Center to give patients information about blood cancers, treatment options and available clinical trials.
$2,500  Supports research to develop new targeted therapies to improve outcomes for patients with less harmful side effects than current treatments.

Every penny counts! Even $5 can make a difference. If you would like to make a donation, please follow my link below:

 

TRI University: Getting there



Team training has officially begun! I have a lot to share from this weekend, so I'm going to break it into a few posts.

On Saturday morning, we had our first meeting in Mill Valley. I made sure to get a good night’s sleep the night before and woke up with plenty of time to have some coffee and breakfast before the 45 minute drive to Tamalpais High School. 

For those of you who know me, you know that I have an extremely small bladder. I mean, sometimes it’s excruciatingly small and inconvenient. You’ve probably watched TV with me before, where I have to pee every single commercial break. If we’ve had a sleepover, you know that I must be on the outside closest to the restroom because I wake up a couple of times every night to go. Or, you’ve been on a car ride with me, where we have to stop at multiple gas stations. I know my family will vouch for this; they’ve all spent many-a-family road trips searching for restrooms…it’s usually safe to add on a good half hour to travel time for short car trips! 

Well, my teeny tiny bladder was in full form on Saturday. I went to the bathroom a good 4 times before leaving my apartment (that’s being awake for only one hour). I got into my car and pulled out of my apartment’s garage. As I was about to turn onto the main road…you guessed it! I had to go to the bathroom again. So, I re-parked and ran back into my apartment to go. RIDICULOUS!

I did not make it the entire 45 minute drive. I had to pull off and find a Starbucks to go to the bathroom. I barely made it in time! After anxiously waiting in the parking lot for the rush of late morning coffee customers in the strip mall, I finally got a spot and ran into the store. I was not going to be that girl that shows up on day 1 and has pee’d her pants! Luckily I made it and avoided that embarrassment. After this detour, I was back on my way to TRI training. I arrived 10 minutes later…and headed straight to the restroom to go again. 

This was an exceptionally ridiculous morning for my bladder. I think it was probably due to nerves about my first meeting and all of the new people. Here's a map of my route and bathroom stops!



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Self-training Adventures

My Team in Training group officially begins on December 6th! I'm so excited to finally get started with a trainer.

Since signing up, it's been hard waiting for the official triathlon training program to begin. I've definitely been more active...but not as much as I should have been.
For those of you who don't know, I grew up swimming my entire life. I began when I was only a few months old, and swam in my first competitive race when I was 3 years old. I was definitely not the fastest in that race, but I was the youngest in the entire All-Orinda end of summer swim meet! And probably the cutest because I tended to wear floral swimsuits with built in tutus!
I swam competitively with my club team through high school and swam for 4 years on my Varsity swim team in high school.
Then college happened...I swam every once in awhile, but not often.
Then Peace Corps happened...it was the desert; aka, no water; aka not my fault that I couldn't swim!
So, I've since lost most of my swimming muscles. Swimming really does use different muscles than any other sport and it takes time to get back into swim shape.

So, I joined a master's swim team in Oakland: the Temescal Aquatic Masters
 
The swim team has morning workouts from 5:30-6:30am. This leaves me just enough time to get ready for work in the locker room and head to the office by 7!

The workouts are divided up by swimming lane and each lane is denoted an animal. For one of my very first practices, I went into the lane that I thought would be good for me...not too fast, not too slow, but a slight challenge to ease myself back into swimming shape. The groups switch which lane they're in every week so you're not constantly in a lane against the side wall. 

This is in fact the worst! I scraped by knuckles against the wall while swimming backstroke. Since I was in that lane the entire week, I kept scraping the same knuckles over and over again. It took the entire next week, when I wasn't against the wall, for my hand to heal!
So, my first practice: I literally received NO REST at all during the workout. Every time I finished a set and touched the wall, the entire group had already left to start the next set. I knew I was out of swim shape, but this was just so ridiculously discouraging. I started having doubts...am I really going to be able to do a triathlon? I can't even keep up in the water for one workout! By the end of day one, I felt exhausted, defeated, and really tempted to not go back.

Ok, second practice: A LOT LIKE THE FIRST, aka it felt like death. After 15 minutes, I finally finished a set before being lapped by everybody. A glorious 15 seconds of rest for me! That 15 seconds felt like a million bucks. A huge goal accomplished. (it's the little things that should make you happy, right?!) During those wondrous 15 seconds, I decided to use my precious breath to make a friend with someone in my lane..."Wow, I haven't swam in a long time! You Dolphins are fast!" My new friend looked at me like I was crazy. "This is the Orcas lane," she responded before pushing off the wall to continue. THE ORCAS?! THAT IS THE FASTEST GROUP ON THE TEAM. I did not waste one second. I hopped out of the lane, grabbed my stuff, and found my way to the Orcas I had thought I was swimming with.

The next practices: So much better! Swimming with a group that was my speed made all the difference. Instead of discouragement, I was feeling hopeful that I would get back my swim muscles and work my way up the speed totem pole of the TEME Masters team! After about a week, I moved up a group. I am currently swimming with the Sharks and hope to be in the Humpbacks soon!
During Peace Corps in Burkina Faso, my main form of transportation was a bicycle. I had to bike on  dirt roads for 25 kilometers just to get to a place where I could buy food or find a vehicle for transportation. Not to mention, it was upwards of 133 degrees fahrenheit. I did not know it was humanly possible to be that hot and survive. It is...you just sweat a lot and you feel pretty miserable. So, I have done quite a bit of outdoor biking in the past few years. If you recall from a previous blog post, I participated in a fundraiser during Peace Corps where we biked around the entire country to raise money for women's equality. I was doing bike rides upwards of 130 kilometers in a day, in that heat.

Outdoor biking in a city with paved roads and vehicles is another story though...I finally got a road bike! I have no idea if it will be a good one for a triathlon. That will have to be determined by my coach. I hope it works though because I don't want to buy another! I started riding my bike to work every once in awhile (emphasis on "awhile" as it has been a good month since I did last). It's an easy 4 mile ride to work from my house.
My spiffy new bike hanging out in my office!

So, I've been a little nervous to take on the training on the road by myself. That will have to come with the training group. I have stepped up my indoor cycling classes. So, at least I'm building up cycling muscles and working on form! I take at least one cycle class per week and sometimes up to 4 or 5 a week at the gym. 
I go through phases with running. Sometimes, I run a lot and my body feels comfortable doing short distances. I've never been a runner before. It's always been a challenge for me and I always feel like I'm not quite in the groove yet when I'm on runs. It just feels strained...like it's not natural to my body. I'm hoping this is something that will get better with my training. I'm hoping there's a small alteration in my form or something that I will easily adjust and then magically I will become a runner! Is that too much to hope for?

Since moving to Lake Merritt, I have been running around the lake pretty frequently. Whenever I can't swim or make it to the gym, I run the 4 miles around the lake. So, when my good friend Elyse asked me to sign up for a 5k with her in New York, I thought EASY PEASY!

I was just in New York a couple of weeks ago. The first part of my visit was beautiful; sunlight, warmth, I was actually hot in what I packed to wear. Interestingly (more like cruelly), the weather took a turn towards cold the night before our 5k. Another unfortunate aspect was the race being located along the waterfront. WATERFRONT + 39 DEGREES = CHILLY WINDS (and also frozen muscles). 

For some reason, I had only packed California running clothes. So, spandex pants that end mid-calf (my lower half of my calves were very upset about this) and a t-shirt (not long sleeve!). I had an extremely thin sweatshirt that I had packed, so I threw that on as well. This was definitely the coldest run of my life. It felt like my muscles were frozen and that they might crack with the movement of my legs. My throat was burning as I breathed in and out. My eyes were watering from the wind hitting them. And there was so much cold wind coming off of the water! It was a very miserable race for me. It felt like the longest 5k of my life. 
This is our group picture before the Turkey Trot run. Elyse and I are on the right side, second row. Do not be deceived by that sunlight...it provided no warmth!

The 5k was a good wake up call though. My body felt very different running in a climate that I was not currently used to. I am sure the climate in Hawaii at the time of my race will be different than that of where I am training. So, I need to really be prepared athletically because my body will have to overcome other obstacles that I cannot train with in California. 

At the end of the race, there were awards announced. I was not in the top 3 finishers who received medals. However, they had small prizes (gift cards to various shops) that they drew like a raffle, using our bib numbers to select winners. I felt determined to win something after freezing my tush off! I experienced the usual roller coaster of raffle emotions...hopeful and excited with each new drawing, followed by disappointment at not being selected. Apparently my emotions were in my head, as well as outloud...with gasps and sighs of disappointment. I realized that people had started looking my way. I wasn't embarrassed. There was one prize left and I didn't want to lose focus (as if me being focused could cause them to select my number at random). 

They pulled out the final number. I could make it out from the backside of the paper that was facing me. IT WAS MY NUMBER. I waited for confirmation until they called it out. They said it. 71! I screamed "YES!!!" and jumped up in the air with my arms stretched to the sky. Then, I started approaching the announcer.

"That's not your number, Hayley, You are number 72," Elyse told me. "I'm number 71," she said.

Extremely embarrassed and disappointed, with everybody staring at me, all I could think to say was, "Oh." Then, I turned and walked back to where I had been standing. I was pretty bummed. Elyse came back with her prize and said, "I don't like Jamba Juice anyways. You can have it." What a great friend!

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Overall, I think I could have trained more on my own. I am very excited to get started with my team and really get to work!

Thank you so very much to those of you who have donated towards my cause! I really appreciate it and so does the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society! If you have not donated yet, please use the link below to make a 100% tax deductible donation. Any amount is greatly appreciated!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's not much, but it's a start!

I spoke with my Team in Training mentor yesterday. Her name is Meredith and she will be answering my questions along the way and helping me out with fundraising ideas. She said that I chose a great triathlon for my first one. I decided if I was going to train really hard and finish a triathlon, I would reward myself with doing one in an amazing location. So, I signed up for the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon in HAWAII

The Lavaman swim starts off with a beautiful 1500 meter (.9 Miles) Pacific Ocean swim that starts at Anaeho'omalu Bay at Waikoloa Beach
  
The bike portion is a 40 Kilometer trek on a portion of the Ironman World Champion Bike Course. 
And the run portion is a 10 kilometer run that boasts to be one of triathlons most scenic.

If you want to learn more about the Lavaman Waikoloa Triathlon, check out the website: http://www.lavamantriathlon.com

 My mentor told me that the coaches will not be reaching out to me until November. So, in the meantime, I need to come up with my own training plan to start working towards the intense training series that I will have with my team. I'm going to look up different training schedules for beginners and create something that will work for me. In the meantime, I'm going to try biking to work whenever possible. It's not a far commute, but it's better than nothing. Here's this morning's ride tracked with the Strava app on my phone:



 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Newest Adventure!



I absolutely loved the Peace Corps. I learned so much about myself and about the people and culture of Burkina Faso. I did not blog on here as often as I would have liked, but that was due to my circumstances in village. I did not have electricity, so I was only able to blog when in large cities. My time in Burkina went by very quickly in the end, and I never had the chance to write about coming back home.  

I will admit that I was afraid to come back home. I was afraid of readjusting back to life in the states. I had become so used to the extremely simple, yet meaningful life I was living in my village. I knew that for me to successfully transition back into American life, I would need to really throw myself into it, headfirst. And that’s exactly what I did. While still living in village, I accepted a full-time, temporary position at the company I worked for before Peace Corps. I started working full-time only a few short days after returning home. I didn’t give myself any time to think about readjusting. I knew that if I did, I would miss Burkina more. I would stress out more about fitting back into American life. I would feel lost and confused. Starting work right away didn’t allow me any time to feel…well, anything. It was absolutely exhausting, but I somehow flipped a switch and went right back to being a typical, working American.

I’ve since accepted a full time position at the same company, working as a Training & Development Director. I’ve succeeded a little too much in what I once thought was ideal at the time of departing Burkina…I am a typical, working American now. Sometimes I work too much. After work, I often want to do nothing, but feel like I have so much to get done. I dream about travel. I dream about adventure. I need something more in my life. 

So, I signed up for my first Triathlon! A new challenge. A new period in my life. A new, healthy and happy me! Well, that is the goal at least. 

I am going to use this blog to share my experiences during this new adventure! I have never done a triathlon before. I’ve been exercising since I got home and eating somewhat well, but there have been maybe one too many burritos in my life! My body is going to be in shock and I’m sure I will have a lot of crazy stories along the way…they always seem to find their way into my life!

So, I hope you enjoy the chronicles of Hayley’s Adventures in Training! 

More to come soon…

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Participating in Camp Glow, the Bike Tour and organizing the 50th Anniversary Fair made for a pretty hectic summer. I thought that life would calm down, but completing these activities motivated me to do some projects in my own community. I felt really great for my accomplishments this summer, but I wasn’t completely happy knowing that I hadn’t done anything that directly affected my village. Camp Glow took place in Kaya and the participants were middle school students. Since Forgui only has a primary school, nobody from my village could come to the camp. The Bike Tour made a brief breakfast stop in my village and then we continued on our way. The volunteers only had the chance to greet a few members of my family and then they whisked me away for 2 weeks on the road. The 50th Anniversary Fair took place in the capital, Ouagadougou. Most of the villagers have never left Forgui, so making a trip to Ouaga was far too expensive and unrealistic for them. I feel like I can only explain so much to my villagers about the work I’ve done so far, but it’s not easy for them to understand. From their perspective, I haven’t accomplished very much because they don’t see the work that I do unless I am weighing their baby or assisting in their pre-natal consultation at the CSPS.
Since arriving at my site and talking to other volunteers, I have been constantly adding to my list of project ideas. I never felt like I had the support in village to get any projects completed. I’ve recently begun collaborating with new people in my village. My pharmacist has turned out to be a great friend- he has no ulterior motives. He wants to help me with my projects and doesn’t want anything in return like money or marriage and a visa to the US like the other professionals in my region. I also began working with the primary school in my village and the director is great. He met with me and had already brainstormed ideas of how we could collaborate together on projects. He also supports all of my ideas and wants to help out in any way possible.
So, here are the projects I’m working on so far this year:
I am making hand washing stations for the village. They are a metal or plastic water canister with a faucet attached so people can wash their hands easily in villages with no running water. I applied for and received funding to build hand washing stations at the school, health center and market in village. I am experimenting with the hand washing station design by adding a “lost well.” This is a hole dug into the ground and filled with layered rocks in varying sizes. The lost well allows water to filter into the ground instead of gathering into a puddle of stagnant water, which attracts mosquitos and therefore malaria. Once the hand washing stations are installed, I will be doing lessons on hygiene and the importance of hand washing. I will also be demonstrating how to make liquid soap, which will then be used at the hand washing stations. I created laminated signs with images reminding people to wash their hands. This may seem like an unnecessary project, but people in village really do not wash their hands, which results in numerous cases of diarrhea and giardia.
I’m organizing a Girl’s Camp for winter break in December. It’s going to be a short camp; only 3 days from 8am to noon at the primary school in village. I am collaborating with my school director and the supervisor of my health center. We’re invited all adolescent girls to openly discuss puberty, adolescence, unwanted pregnancies, forms of birth control, menstrual cycles and future aspirations if they stay in school. Burkina Faso is a very male dominant society, where young girls are sexually harassed and abused and forced into marriage at a young age. The school system does not address sexual education and many females (including older women) are completely uneducated about their bodies. I want to encourage these young women to stay in school, to protect themselves and to value themselves. It will be like a mini version of Camp Glow taking place in my village.
I recently applied for and received funding for a Women’s Day celebration. March 8th is international Women’s Day and it is celebrated by the majority of Burkina Faso. It is one day where the women are recognized for their contributions to society. I was very disappointed the previous March to see that my village does not recognize the holiday. The villagers did not even know what Women’s Day was. After my girls camp in December, I am going to invite these young women to join the planning committee for Forgui’s first Women’s Day celebration. I will teach the girls how to conduct health awareness campaigns and we will prepare a theater presentation. I am going to let the girls run the event and pick the subjects they would like to address. We will also host a women’s soccer match; soccer is the biggest extracurricular activity here and women are frequently excluded from matches. The celebration will highlight women’s impact on our community. The planning committee will learn how to run the event themselves so they can carry on with the celebration annually.
After the girl’s camp and Women’s Day planning committee, I hope to start a Girl’s Club with the same girls. I want to meet with any girls interested after school every once in a while to discuss different health topics with them and to play soccer. The females in our community receive so few opportunities in Forgui, so I want to offer them a safe environment with me where they can relax and enjoy themselves. In the future, I hope to paint a world map at the school with these girls and start other projects with them as well. One project will be painting AIDS murals in December for world AIDS awareness month at the health center and the school.
The director and teachers at the primary school requested my help in building new school latrines. A latrine is like an outhouse in the US; it is a hole in the ground with a cement covering used as a toilet in Burkina Faso. The current ones at the school are inadequate; they are falling apart and were not built properly so they are unsafe. We found a latrine specialist who will build safe, functioning and durable latrines for the school. There will be one latrine designated to each of the 6 classes; the students will be responsible for maintaining their latrine. I will also be teaching each class the importance of using latrines; this will hopefully decrease the amount of people “relieving” themselves in public in the fields surrounding the school and my house. I am currently applying for funding for this project.
I am working with a men’s association that puts on health awareness campaigns. There are 30 men interested in participating. They drum and dance to gather an audience, then they perform a theater piece about a health topic of choice and show a film using a projector and car battery that they own. They have asked for my help with information on different health topics so I will be working with them. The have been inactive for 4 years and want me to help them become an established and functioning association again. This association is intriguing since it is very rare that men want to help inform the public on health topics.
I am looking for funding for stairs and ramps at my health center. Our CSPS is poorly designed. It is one long building, separated into 2 sides. The left side is the maternity; there is a consultation room for pre-natal and post-natal consultations and birth control options, a birthing room and an overnight room. The right side of the building is for all other health consultations with an overnight room for sick patients. There is currently one set of stairs located in the exact spot where a dividing wall connects the two sides. This poor placement makes the stairs almost impossible to use. The foundation of the building is about a foot off the ground and it is a big struggle for the elderly, pregnant women, sick people and children to access the building. I see children slip off every week and I myself have fallen off on numerous occasions. My community would like to build stairs and ramps along the front of the CSPS.
I am hoping to have a huge impact on my village in my remaining time there. I also want to help with the bigger picture, so I am organizing a Women’s Health Conference. I am a member of the Gender and Development (GAD) Committee, a committee comprised of Peace Corps volunteers interested in advancing the equality of genders in Burkina Faso and fostering opportunities for females in this country. We are planning a conference for volunteers and female counterparts from their villages. We will be discussing pertinent health topics such as hygiene, reproductive health, health services available and malaria. We are going to train the participants to be health advocates; they will learn teaching and communication techniques so they can bring this information back to their communities. The women will learn fun activities and games that they can use in their health sessions to grab villager’s attention and to leave a lasting impression on their communities. I am in the process of organizing this conference with our office in Ouagadougou and I am currently applying for funding from Washington.
Volunteers have access to different funding options for projects. There are grants we can apply for called SPA grants. They have a long application process in order to ensure that the projects are community initiated and not just a project a volunteer wants to take place. There are also requirements on budgets and allocations of funds. Volunteers can receive funding for projects in the following categories: Maternal and Child Health, Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Water and Sanitation, HIV/AIDS. It is not an easy process and can take months, but it is one of the only options for funding for projects. Our salary is not enough to fund projects; we only receive enough for living allowances. The other funding option is offered by my committee, the Gender and Development Committee. We raise money through events like the bike tour and silent auctions. Volunteers can apply for money to fund small projects relating to gender and development in Burkina. I have currently received two SPA grants, one GAD grant and am applying for many more.
I hope to complete all of the above projects and will write about them when I do! Thank you for all of your support J