[su_slider source=”media: 15421,15420,15418,15417,15416,15411,15409,15408,15407,15406″ limit=”10″ width=”400″ height=”420″ responsive=”no” title=”no” mousewheel=”no” autoplay=”5800″]Alongside local teachers and nurses, Ben DeMuth (Agribuisness PCV) and Emily Feher (Health PCV) developed and implemented a short youth-centered program for the students at the high school and technical school in their village called Jeunes Contre le Palu (Youth against malaria). It was a program that taught life skills such as how to set a goal and make a plan of action to reach their goals, but also focused on malaria transmission and prevention, and how they can be agents of change in their community to promote healthy malaria prevention behaviors.
The program included a few different arts-based components, one of which included painting a malaria-themed world map at both schools. The maps included messages about malaria in the global, African and Cameroonian context as well as malaria prevention images around the world map. This was a great opportunity for the youth to work together on a project and use skills they learned through the program in a real-life setting.
The other arts-based component consisted of giving participants access to a digital camera to film their everyday lives while keeping the main themes of the program in mind. They went out in the community and recorded interviews with local leaders, spoke with their role models, asked people about their experiences with malaria and took pictures of people correctly (and incorrectly) using their mosquito nets, for example.
We compiled everything they filmed into a kind of movie and we had a screening of their work during the closing ceremony of the program. Invitees at the ceremony included health personnel, traditional leaders, government workers, teachers and other community members. We invited many of the personnel from the hospital and a variety of different community representatives to the closing ceremony because we wanted it to be a community event, encouraging important dialogue about the impact of malaria on the community and how to support youth to reach their goals and objectives in life.
The youth participants were
successful in sparking a kind of community debate, focusing on the barriers to malaria prevention that they discovered while talking to
community members during the outreach portion of the program. Everyone spoke honestly and respectfully and it seemed like the youth actually felt that they had a voice, even if it was a small platform. It’s amazing what you get when you give young people a camera, a bit of information, and an open-ended assignment.