I spent two weeks working on Hithaadhoo with my teammates Katie and Shah. We showed up to learn that the island already had three community health workers who went out and surveyed the island in about a month. We met with them right away and saw that they had great data sheets in use already and that they did go out to check homes on a constant basis. Our goal was to help them improve their methods and gain community support so they could cover the island in just two weeks. The island council president Yusuf was very willing to work with us and wanted to see the project succeed.
After presentations to students at the school we had a steady group of student volunteers coming out each day to help us survey the island. I actually grew pretty close to two girls and looked forward to working with them every day. At the end of the week they gave me a traditional Maldivian lacquer box and said they would miss me. They were both sweet girls and I’ll miss working with such great kids there.
On our last day on the island we had the community health workers survey homes on their own while we finished up final meetings. Both teams did a great job at it and we felt confident that they would be able to carry on the project once we left as long as they had consistent volunteers to help them. Trudy and Shah worked on a procedure sheet with directions on how to survey homes efficiently so if more people do volunteer and break into teams, they will always have something to guide them. Coming to an island that already had a consistent team going out and checking homes for mosquito breeding was something new for me.
It was awesome to see a system that was already in place and to work with members of the community health center to improve it. Together we worked as one team drawing upon experiences from both sides to come up with a system that shows no sign of stopping anytime soon.