Progress, is that you?

Wahoo, our first batch of Community Health Volunteers are trained, inducted and adorned with their new uniforms! They’re ready to take on all the health issues of Bayanzurkh District, which is to say they are in over their heads as there are more health issues than one can count (oh dear, I’m not sure they knew what they were in for when they signed up for this).

But let’s backtrack…

So in April and May we recruited 134 CHVs. Those 134 individuals then attended training at their local clinic to learn about the facility, meet the staff, learn to take blood pressure, all that. Come the beginning of June, those trainings ended (for the most part), and the CHVs were ready for the next part of their training: a six-day course led by a whole slew of people including healthcare professionals from the District Health Unit, me, Jess and Jo (all VSO). Jess’s counterpart arranged the trainings in a ladder-type schedule so that they took place in three different venues but were off by one day in each venue (Day one of training took place Thurs, Fri, Sat of one week all at different venues, and the following 5 days fell in line behind). It seemed like a fairly simply way to train a lot of people in a short amount of time. And it was. Except that Mongolians do not like planning – not one bit – so needless to say Jess, Jo and I had our hands full of the logistics and organization. But we did it (we had to!). In the first group about 75, almost 50 attended enough days to be considered fully trained (read: they only missed two days at most). In terms of Mongolian standards, that’s pretty good.

Have a look:

Learning how to care for a baby:

Jess knows how to work the crowd (giving trainings is fun!):

Our littlest CHV (best to get them early when they’re really impressionable):

And then there was this guy, “sleeping” outside ALL DAY on our first day of training. It was an odd juxtaposition to offer a health training while right outside your window there lies a man passed out from alcohol for literally the entire day (he did shift positions a few times so at least we knew he wasn’t dead):

It’s unfortunate that he chose to pull that stunt on the introduction day of training and not the alcohol awareness day. He would have made a good living model. But anyways.

So following the trainings we scheduled our CHV Induction Ceremony. And by scheduled I mean we pushed and pushed and pushed for our Mongolian counterparts to book a venue, schedule some activities, you know, plan the ceremony, but they simply didn’t want to. Not until the morning of the ceremony of course.

Right, so the day of the event, our manager calls us into her office to inform us that the City Health Department has mandated that each district hold some certain meeting at 2pm on Wednesday, June 15th. And when is our ceremony scheduled? Duh, at 2pm on Wednesday, June 15th.

But fear not, we can hold them both at the same time!

“What a brilliant plan!” they think.

“We can see this going horribly wrong already,” we think.

Ho hum. So yeah, it turned into a bit of a mess, complete with a hail storm and power cut, but all in all the CHVs were happy (once the speeches ended). They received their uniforms, equipment bags and certificates (Mongolians love certificates – and they must be stamped in order to be official).

And here we have them, the Health Promotion Heroes (aka Community Health Volunteers):

This one is with a few of the Social Workers we work with:

CHVs again:

Please note that I am a GIANT. I mean, I’m not simply tall; I am massive. It’s funny. The woman next to me in this next shot actually requested that we take a photo together (just us, she insisted as she pushed the others out of the way) because I’m not sure she had ever met another woman as tall as her. The photo came out a bit blurry, but it was still pretty great.

And one final one of me, Altai, and Saruul. Altai and Saruul are two of our wonderful interpreters without which we would accomplish nothing. We’re in the back of the ambulance on our way back from the ceremony.

Now we’re back at it – trainings begin again on Wednesday. We’ll repeat the same six-day training for another three groups, follow it up with an Induction Ceremony, and then somehow we manage and motivate these people. We’ll figure it out…or at least we better!

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