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Haiti: First day of training

07 Nov 2010

Some of the group who attended the training in Censhop hospitalI started my part of the psychosocial training yesterday at the Censhop Hospital.

I have 16 participants: Steve, the HelpAge Psychosocial coordinator, four HelpAge nurses, two HelpAge public health docs, two programme people from HelpAge, a HelpAge community agent from the camps, the medical director of the Censhop Hospital, and seven other healthcare providers from other NGOs.

They are a wonderful group who are eager to learn and seem pretty engaged. They are practicing skills in small groups in breakout sessions that they can use in the hospitals and camps with people who have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and depression.

Looking at the challenges older people face

As a whole group we are having lively and touching dialogue about how to do the work with the particular challenges that older people face in the camps. They are also discussing how to apply these skills to themselves, as Haitians who have been through the earthquake and are still dealing with their own losses of homes and family members.

My interpreter is top notch and is familiar with the material I am teaching and is also helpful with the small breakout groups. We have two more days together to do the "watch one, do one, teach one" model, so by the end of tomorrow they have to have learned all the skills.

Starting Wednesday a team of us will go to a different camp each day to teach the skills to a group of 30 "Friends", who are camp residents that HelpAge is paying a small part time wage to be health "carers". The Friends have about 20 older people in their camp that they look in on each day to provide assistance. I am hoping that we can train 150 Friends before I go this time.

I know from the time I spent in the camps in August that we will run in to many Friends that are being challenged not only from the trauma from the earthquake, but also every day life in the difficult conditions in the camps.

Catching up over lively discussion and stew

This afternoon, Ndaro (HelpAge's Health Coordinator in Haiti) and I were invited by Fabbius, our Haitian driver and interpreter from when I was here in August, to his restaurant for lunch. It was a warm and engaging reunion, a great stew, and lively discussion about Haitian politics, Tanzanian Christianity and voodoo.

We went the "back way" to avoid traffic and had quite an adventure with Claude our driver, who had to make many attempts to get up the muddy rocky dirt roads, winding around hairpin turns with huge deep holes, through little rivers strewn with garbage. Carly (my daughter who shirks over my driving) would have gone crazy. I am now back at the house safe and sound, happy to have had some time to relax. Now I have to get ready for my training tomorrow.

Read more about HelpAge's work in Haiti

Visit Stephanie's blog about her experience working with HelpAge in Haiti

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Stephanie Citron

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.