By Lindsay White and Aaron Fishman – Volunteer Health Advisers
November 27, 2011 – What do you put on a wound to stop bleeding? Cobwebs? Leaves? Gasoline?
During our 2 months working with EBPP, we taught the staff quite a bit about first aid, but may have learned just as much about traditional remedies and health practices of East Bali. Our Wilderness First Aid training lasted 6 weeks, and covered everything from scrapes and bruises to constructing a stretcher out of bamboo. In the sweltering afternoons between 3 and 5pm, we held the health team “hostage” in a small room behind the EBPP office, discussing such appealing topics as pus and uncontrollable bleeding. Luckily: 1) Balinese are accustomed to cramped, hot conditions, 2) most of the participants think pus is as exciting as we do, and, 3) even if they were not excited, the Balinese are too polite to let that be known.
Aaron and I left our health care jobs (and the winter) in Boston and landed in Bali via a friend of a friend, Dr Denise Abe MPH, a long-term consultant for EBPP’s health program. We designed and implemented a comprehensive first aid program and constructed first aid kits for the organization, sourcing the supplies locally. We taught 2 health staff, Sinta Ardiani, EBPP’s senior nutritionist, and Dedyt Premana, EBPP’s recently appointed male nurse, to become “first aid trainers”, and mentored them as they trained EBPP school staff and community tutors in wound care.
In addition to the first aid training, we immersed ourselves in many other existing health projects. At the community mother-child posyandu groups, Lindsay improved the health staff’s capacity for identifying and addressing child malnutrition. She also worked with EBPP’s nurse, Dedyt Premana, preparing him for a leadership role in EBPP’s tuberculosis awareness and elimination program.
Aaron got down to business. When he visited the posyandu, he saw a small business opportunity in selling health related items unavailable in the communities, such as wound care and dental hygiene supplies. He worked with a local tailor to fashion a “mobile store”, and consulted with Sinta Ardiani and Komang Kurniawan (EBPP Chairman and Projects’ Team Leader) to create a business plan. On the side, he spent time with Made Sudarma (EBPP’s Senior Water and Sanitation programmes Coordinator) to learn about the community’s cashew business, brainstorming ideas for expansion and improvement.
We have really enjoyed our time “on the mountain”, learning while teaching. The most enjoyable part of our job was teaching local staff, who appreciated how powerful their knowledge is in combating the health issues of their communities. We hope to be back some time in the future!