Monday, June 4, 2012

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Today (Friday June 1st) we visited a school that had taken the day off from teaching the normal curriculum to teach women and children about health and to provide health services for them. A group of nurses that travel around the Xukuru territory was there checking blood pressure, testing for STDS, and teaching. They taught children about the importance of dental health and how to brush and floss properly, while teaching women about cervical health and the importance of using protection. The room was packed with women of all ages, but mostly young mothers and their children. A demographic that I was not expecting to see there was males, presumably the husbands. I was surprised to see a handful of men at this health event for women and children because at home I don’t see men that involved with these health issues. Something else that I found interesting was that a young girl handed Lee (the trip director) a baby to hold, and when Lee asked how old the baby was and what the baby’s name was, the girl said that she didn’t know because it wasn’t her baby. All of us were very confused about the whereabouts of the child’s mother but continued to care for her and hold her for about a half hour or more. Finally the baby became aggravated (probably hungry) and her mother emerged from a group of women waiting to fill out their paperwork. She took the baby from Lee and promptly began to breastfeed her daughter. The most shocking part of this whole event was not the public breastfeeding. It was the fact that the child’s mother had been across the room the whole time and had trusted a group of foreign women (and the local girl before us) to hold and care for her baby for such a long period of time. Her trust in others around her to watch her child reveals to me the trust that the Xukuru people have in their community. As many of us have probably stated on this blog multiple times, life here revolves around that community. This community is constantly improving, and this health day is just one example of these improvements. - Beth

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