The final results are in: 49% of the kids in Cambio Puente who are enrolled in our project, have some sort of parasite. Normally, to get a good diagnosis, three…umm…samples… need to be collected. Due to the size of the group we were testing we only had the time and resources to collect one sample from each kid. The problem with this is that often, the parasites will not show up in the first sample or the second sample, but will stubbornly show up in the third sample. Therefore, we can only assume that more of our kiddos actually have parasites. This is what the breakdown looks like:
Rather than just providing treatment to the kids that we were absolutely sure had parasites, we decided to make medication available to all our kids in Cambio Puente because of the fact that we cannot be sure that the 51% that showed up negative are actually parasite free. The tricky part is that we had two different medications we were using because unfortunately one type of medication does not cover both giardia and oxiuros (pinworms). This is where our sectors came in handy. Rather than just treating the whole population with one blanket medication, we looked at the parasite prevalence in each sector and treated the kids that came back with a negative diagnosis for the parasite that was the most prevalent in their area. When it came to actual treatment, we had a complete range of reactions from the kids. There were some that could not wait to take their medicine while others were climbing over their mom’s shoulders trying to get away from us and spraying the medicine back out as soon as it was in their mouths.
One of the (many) things I love about our project in Cambio Puente is the way it is designed. In total, the project will be present in Cambio Puente for just a couple years. After those years, we will leave the community to care for themselves. In those few years, it is our goal to provide the people of Cambio Puente with the tools they will need after we are gone. The main way we are doing this is through our community agents. Every couple months we hold workshops that last for a day or two and talk about different health conditions in kids and what can be done about them. My co-workers apparently think my Spanish has improved to such a level that I can now more actively participate in these workshops. Read: lead discussions and give presentations. There was still a little giggling at my Spanish as we worked our way through talking about infant warning signs, but at the end I think (hope?) everyone understood. There may be one benefit to my stumbling through the language, though—there was more participation from our group of women than normal. I think they just felt sorry for me. Whatever the reason, I had to pat myself on the back for leading a discussion when just six months ago I could barely carry on a decent conversation about the weather. It is an unbelievable experience to be a part of something that is much much bigger than myself and I count myself lucky and blessed every day I am down here to be a part of it.