The Classes Begin

A lot has been happening in San Francisco in the last couple of weeks! The youth health promoters and I are starting to get in the swing of things with the classes. So far we’ve completed an initial exam to determine a baseline of their knowledge about health and covered the first three classes (Salud Integral, Educacion y Nutricion). Katie and Roberto have done a great job of making the curriculum both informative and fun. I really enjoy preparing for the classes and teaching them twice a week with the help of Javier, the health tech in San Francisco.

The health promoters are eager and enthusiastic to learn – I know that they will accomplish great things in the community through this project. The biggest challenge at the moment is the shyness of the promoters. They are often reluctant to offer answers to questions in front of the group – even ones they know the answers to. This is something that I’m sure will ease with time, as they become more comfortable with me and with the participatory style of the health classes.  We have a focus in the curriculum on self-esteem, communication skills and leadership which I think is very important to empower them to be leaders in health.

We just had our class on Buena Nutricion last Friday. We learned about the three major food groups of Energia, Proteccion y Constructor and how to eat balanced meals with foods from all three groups. We were lucky to have an obstetrician from Coyona in town who helped me to explain vitamin deficiencies and how to prevent them. It was really interesting to hear her perspective as a doctor familiar with the area. Vitamin A deficiency is the most common deficiency in San Francisco. I’m hoping that we can address some of the vitamin deficiencies with a community vegetable garden (huerto) that we are starting!

A local resident of San Francisco has donated a large piece of land to our project and the health promoters are excited about starting our first small project. In our nutrition class they helped me compile a list of vegetables they’d like to grow. We are thinking: lettuce, carrot, cabbage, tomato, onion, beets, coriander……..We are thinking a lot of things because I am hungry for some color in my diet and I think they are too. The lack of vegetables in San Francisco is really striking. We get LOTS of yummy rice and juicy bananas and oranges and even some protein (eggs and the occasional bit of pork or chicken), but veggies – almost nada.

I went to the market today to buy seeds for our huerto. I just bought a small packet of carrot and lettuce seeds to test before buying all my seeds from one vendor.  I have three more weeks in San Francisco (before returning to meet Curtis and Carly!), so we’ll begin moving richer soil from the chacras to the garden until I buy the rest of our seeds. I also want to petition the advice of the profe (teacher) who has a beautiful vegetable garden about what’s best to plant in our space.

All in all, things are progressing beautifully and by the time I update next, we will be at the half-way point of our youth health classes and Curtis and Carly will have arrived!


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