Monday, July 31, 2017

Esto no es el final. This is not the end.

After spending two weeks in El Bambú working closely with the volunteer mothers and their care groups, my time in Nicaragua is almost coming to an end. During our time there, my group and I taught six nutrition lessons to the volunteer mothers using the rotafolios (flip chart) we created and they played a major role in validating the language and images used so it was appropriate for the context it will be used in. Due to the weather and cultural norms, we weren't able to watch the volunteer mothers do all the replicas (replicated lessons) to their care groups but we did observe three of the six lessons and it was very gratifying to see the work they do for the well being of their community. The three other lessons will be completed within the month of August and there will be a follow up health station in six months to measure the effect of the lessons. Here are some pictures of the last two weeks. Disclaimer; the following pictures don't capture the amount of work we did, the immersion of our project or the endless love the community continuously gave us during our stay. 

This is Mirna, our youngest volunteer mother, ready to teach a lesson on breastfeeding to her care group. The lessons were based on images and dynamic activities in order to get the mothers to participate besides the high percentage of illiteracy in La RAAS (South Caribbean Coast Autonomous Region).

Our entertainment station for the kids to draw while the mothers of the care group were receiving the lessons. Having the kids come to the lesson was very important because the PD Hearth methodology requires the children to be fed from the rich nutrient recipes the mothers create at the end of the lesson. Ideally this would allow the mothers to see the improvement in the kids' energy if enough continuous lessons were done but due to the limitations of the community (lots of precipitation, muddy roads and patriarchal households) only 3 recipes were done over a period of 5 days in only 2 of the 3 care groups.

Here is Orfa, one of the mothers of the care group, cutting yuca leaves which are high on iron and easily found around the community. The leaves were added to the empanada dough.

The finalized recipe! Rice and beans yuca empanadas -- a tasty and nutrient rich meal made with resources from the community and by the mothers. The cup contains fresco de jocote (jocote leaves juice); a local fruit that is very high on iron and ideal to incorporate into the children's diet due to the overwhelming high percentage of anemic kids under five years old.

This one is for the women and the babes that made my time in Nicaragua a life changing experience. The potential of the volunteer mothers to capacitate the rest of the community on positive feeding and childcare practices are very promising. A follow up health station in January 2018, will measure the effects of the current PD Hearth intervention.

Nice smores - using (malvaviscos) marshmallows and Chiky's (a very yummy vanilla cookie with chocolate filling).  The kids and adults of the community loved them and it was a great bonding experience outside of work that allowed a multitude of cultures to come together.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Farewell Uganda: Memories from Africa

My journey in Uganda has come to an end in this final week of the MHIRT program. I have had the privilege of working with amazing anthropologists from the University of TN, Knoxville who have opened a whole new world to me. I’ve learned about forensic science and transitional justice as tools for capacity-building and reconciliation for countries that have experienced conflict. Professor Trish Hepner has been an invaluable mentor these past few weeks as I’ve consulted with her about my plans to pursue a doctoral degree in psychology at UTK in a couple years. Her expertise in human rights and refugee issues has been the source of hours of insightful discussion. Working with Wilfred (a Ugandan Masters student) and Lucia (a Swedish PhD student) has made this summer quiet enjoyable as they provide fresh perspectives to the project.

The drivers and translators were also valuable assets to the team as they helped us navigate the physical and social landscape of the region. It has been an amazing experience working in various villages in northern Uganda including Pader, Patiko, Pabbo, Kitgum, and Buchoro with beautiful scenery and roaming green hills. We took an exciting excursion to Murchison Falls where we went on a guided safari tour and got up close and personal with elephants, giraffes, antelopes, warthogs and chimpanzees. I hope to return to Uganda soon to explore more of its natural splendor and to reconnect with the amazing, warm-hearted people I have met here.

19756797_10155482435569257_621748064412921415_n.jpg     The Dream Team

 Nile River

 Murchison Falls

 Safari Tour

"The Mystery Van" (our mode of transportation for work and play)

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Brazil, I love you.

 Iguazu Falls- Brazil side

 Marco das Tres Fronteiras-Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay

 Itaipu Binacional Hydroelectric Plant

 Christ the Redeemer- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

This summer was more than I could have hoped for. Thank you MHIRT! Brazil, I love you <3

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My travels throughout the state of Para and Rio

At the beach on the island of Algodoal! 

With my friends heading back to the mainland by boat

My brother and I at the Escadaria do Selaron in Rio de Janeiro!

My friend Alan and I chilling at the beach in Salinas

Monday, July 24, 2017

Was Floripa the right place for me? A record of pics.

Disclaimer: I know I went above the picture limit by far. However I want to share as much of my stay here as possible. And MHIRT is the one who helped me find "Heaven on EARTH"

Future MHIRT students, please consider these amazing pictures when deciding on a MHIRT site...
Let me also share my very personal thought process. I heard of MHIRT my freshman year of CBU. Right away I wanted to join this amazing program to see a different place than Memphis, TN. Now, is that the right motive to apply? It's definitely not! However for a struggling science major, becoming immersed in a real lab will help one see what working in one is like. I had no idea the pace was as relaxed as it was. Also when I applied to MHIRT, I had no preference on where I wanted to go or what I wanted to work on or with... MHIRT is great at matching students!!!!
Coming from CBU's organic chem lab led by Dr. Peer, I was used to being given a task and then after he knew what we were doing, he trusted us to problem solve our way through the lab. This was a great experience! I learned to work by myself for the most part, relying occasionally on my classmates Saehymn Oh or Kaila Muhammad for help. 
Thanks to UFSC's NEPAQ lab, I have learned the importance of working with a team in a science setting. My lab was very big, with at least two people working together on most projects, so working by myself was not a thing. New experiences, new neuronal connections created!!!!

Trilha de Boa Vista

Barra de Lagoa lookout

Unknown to me flower on Trilha de Boa Vista

Cool pic, eh?

Look at me having fun with my camera!!!

OMG, I'm now an ecology major and to see a whole stand on ecology concepts and to be able to understand what it's trying to disseminate, even if it's in another language is priceless!!!

Ditto for the last one.

Entrance to Praia Mole

My view from my apartment here.

Sand play

Sand play

Me and sand

Brasil a la sand

Lab mates Karla and Mateus

Work, work, work

Beautifil mural

Legal lugar in lagoa de conceicao

sandboarding in lagoa de conceicao

Ditto with last one

A fraction of my huge lab. Guess who's me?

Entrance to my lab

UFSC logo

One room in my lab.

Work, work, work

Sadly it's time to leave this beautiful place

Dr. Padua lab. ( from left to right ) Dr Padua, me, ana, John

Bird park in foz do iguaçu 

 Three bborders landmark
Argentina falls with the beautiful girls


Torre panorâmica, Curitiba