Notes from the Field — Why Talking Book Matters
Cliff Schmidt has been in Ghana since September 29, 2011 to kick off Literacy Bridge’s Integrated Health & Agriculture Program , along with Literacy Bridge team members: Ayva Larson, LB maternal/child health program manager ; Andrew Azaabanye Bayor, Ghana country director; Fidelis Da-Uri Awonodomo, Ghana program staff, and; Raymond Yeldidong Bayor, Ghana program staff. The team has been working with local experts to create child and maternal health messages, and meeting with chiefs and others in Ghanaian villages to begin implementing the Integrated Health & Agriculture Program.
Here is what Cliff wrote on October 5 —
We just lost water in our guest house in Jirapa. It was here an hour ago, but now it’s gone. And we all wish we could take showers.
The LB office in Wa is also where Andy often lives, and is where I have been sleeping when we were in Wa earlier in the week. It has no running water or toilet; just an outhouse with a hole in the ground.
I mention this because this reminds me that getting people to wash their hands with soap sounds simple until you think about how inconvenient it is when there is no running water, and when fresh buckets of water require a lot of effort and aren’t always where you want them to be. Ayva and I are at least lucky to have Purell to help, but that’s not an option for anyone else here.
My point is that, when people think about the five key health behaviors [including hand washing with soap, use of insectide treated bed nets and the use of oral rehydration therapy] that prevent maternal and under-five mortality and we are helping Ghana Health Service to promote , I hope they understand that it’s not that people are lazy or just need a simple message that might be delivered on the radio or in a cell phone SMS text. Instead, we need to make the best case we can through songs and expert interviews and peer endorsements and engaging quizzes to convince someone that they need to take much more effort than any of us have to do at home to keep their families healthy, and we have to engage community health leaders to be sure we do this the most efficient and effective way.