CHAP: Community Health and AIDS Prevention
World Health Organization and Peace Corps Togo collaboration
CHAP volunteers carry out a wide range of projects related to the priority health program areas of reproductive health and family planning, infant growth monitoring and nutrition, malaria, HIV/AIDS, and sanitation and hygiene. Volunteers focus on building the capacity of service providers and community leaders, allowing for sustainable support and assistance for communities and individuals. Togo is one of the poorest and most health service strapped countries in which Peace Corps volunteers serve, and one of the poorest in the world. Work opportunities for health volunteers abound.
Specific Health Project in Togo
- Care group projects to achieve sustainable health behavior change
- Reproductive Health and Family planning
- Women’s Health Promotion Clubs and Fair
- Moringa, soy, and neem transformation and utilization
- Infant growth monitoring
|Care Group Training|
CHAP volunteers are currently piloting care group implementation in Togo following the model developed by World Relief in Mozambique. Volunteers partner with community leaders such as hospital staff, Red Cross volunteers, and community health workers to train female and/or male community leaders to manage care groups aimed at achieving sustainable health behavior change at the household and community levels, particularly maternal and child health improvements and acceptance of family planning. Care Group leaders make routine visits to 10-15 households within their immediate community educating and following up on health behavior change to ensure acceptance of new health behaviors. Care groups are also a wonderful opportunity to pair the twin aims of health improvement and women’s empowerment. Togo volunteers plan to write a manual for the small scale implementation of care groups by future Peace Corps volunteers and other rural community health agents.
CHAP volunteers encourage the use of modern family planning methods through community information sessions, individual counseling, and partnerships with public health infrastructure and Populations Services International (PSI). Work in family planning requires careful negotiation of cultural and sexual norms. In particular, Togolese families tend to be large and multiple children are a symbol or status and wealth. Therefore, family planning efforts focus on encouraging all families to appropriately space births in order to allow both the mother and child to survive the pregnancy, and to stay healthy and strong. Volunteers also provide important support for women and men who chose to not have children or to limit the number of children that they have, acting as the vanguard for a future Togo.
Women’s Health Promotion Clubs and Fair:
|Health Promotion Yoga|
Volunteers have been working to initiate women’s health promotion clubs and programs in their villages. This effort to link health and women’s rights will be expanded nationally in coming years. Togo’s first ever Women’s Wellness and Empowerment Conference took place May 26-29, 2011. Thirty motivated female leaders were chosen to attend the four-day conference whose purpose was to educate and empower the women through sessions that highlight the importance of physical and mental health, economic independence, women’s rights, and self-esteem. Sessions were led by both Peace Corps Volunteers and successful Togolese role models. The seminar topics included: family planning, sexual health, maternal health, nutrition, social entrepreneurship, women’s rights and legal entitlements, and financial literacy. The conference will provide a lasting network for women to share information and ideas that they can then implement in their community. Our hope is that the participants take the knowledge and skills they acquired at the conference back to their communities and share what they have learned.
Moringa, Soy, and Neem Transformation and Utilization:
Neem Lotion Preparation (protects from mosquitoes bites)
CHAP volunteers partner with Natural Resource Management volunteers to start Moringa (a fast growing tropical tree with extremely nutrient rich leaves), soy bean, and Neem nurseries or cultivation projects in their villages. Moringa and soy cultivation introduce cheap, sustainable, and locally available food sources which contribute to an improved diet. Neem leaves may be used to create a natural insecticide which can be put on crops to improve yields, or included in lotions that can be used to combat malaria.
This is just a sampling of the types of projects which CHAP volunteers carry out. Please browse issues of our quarterly publication “Et La Sante?” (And Your Health?) for more information about health programs and projects in Togo.
is the Associate Peace Corps Director for the CHAP Program
since January 2011
The Associate Peace Corps Directors (APCDs) are responsible for programming and administration. They provide Volunteers with support for their projects. This includes assuring that Volunteers have suitable work and adequate living arrangements and collaborating with other agencies and individuals involved in Volunteer assignments and projects.
My Peace Corps experience permanently opened my eyes and heart. I treasure my friendships with fellow volunteers and Togolese that have continued to grow for the past 35 years. Ruth Fenzi Reeder, Togo RPCV 1976 - 1978