Velingara Senegal



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Description: Peace Corps Volunteers travel overseas to make real differences in the lives of real people. Apply online to Volunteer, find a local recruiting event, donate to a Volunteer project, or access teacher and student resources.

Before joining Peace Corps Response, I had heard that it was "more intense, more demanding, and more fulfilling" than regular Peace Corps service, but I had no idea as to what extent that would prove true.

For the last 60 days, my colleagues and I have been working 10-12 hours a day, everyday, on the largest universal bed net campaign in West African history. The objective of this campaign is to eradicate malaria in the region of Velingara by making sure there is a mosquito net hung over every sleeping area in every household in every village in the region. Velingara, located in southwestern Senegal, has a population of over 230,000 people living in more than 610 villages. Velingara borders two countries, Guinea Bissau and the Gambia, and claims the second highest rate of malaria in Senegal amongst children six months to five years of age (19%).

Malaria is the number one cause of death for children in this region of Senegal, and it poses a very serious danger to pregnant women, as well. In addition to threatening lives, malaria can severely impact the economy; when farmers get malaria, both their crop production and yields drop. However, there is hope; malaria IS preventable, and this bed net distribution project aims to dramatically, if not completely, reduce rates of malaria incidence and death in Velingara.

Universal bed net distributions are a relatively new concept in the history of distributing nets. While traditional distributions to high-risk groups (such as children 0-5 years of age and pregnant women) are important, they do not address the endemic nature of malaria. The aim of universal coverage, meaning everyone should be sleeping under nets, is to cut off the blood supply to mosquitoes, which in turn either kills them or forces them to move to another area.

The universal bed net campaign happening in Velingara today is ground-breaking for three main reasons. First, our methodology is different from anything ever done before. Traditional distributions drop off nets at regional centers; our project delivers bed nets to the most remote villages and places them directly into the hands of people. Traditional distributions simply hand out nets; however, we conduct malaria lessons prior to each distribution in every village. The educational component to our distribution is vital in order for behavior concerning the importance of malaria and use of nets to change.

Second, Malaria No More develops strategic partner collaborations and utilizes cutting edge social media tools. Malaria No More purchased a vast majority of the nets being used for this campaign via an ingenious online marketing plan involving Twitter, Ashton Kutcher, and CNN. The Youssou Ndour Foundation is using international renowned and extremely popular Senegalese musician Youssou Ndour in various media outlets. A unique song that he created just for this distribution can be heard on the radio twice a day; his face is on certificates that will be handed out to households who correctly use the nets; and he has launched a band competition in honor of this distribution. The response from the population is overwhelming-they know the song by heart and repeat his messages in the streets.

Third, concerning our post-distribution evaluation, District Health Workers will enter into every home in Velingara to verify if people are actually using the nets they were given. Traditional distributions usually take small samplings; however, our assessment will be a complete evaluation of every net handed out to every household.

My role as a Response Volunteer is to provide the details concerning the "who, what, when, where, and how" for daily operations. Every day, five cars must be loaded with the correct amount of nets. Each car must be told the order of villages to go to, which health community agents and/or PCVs to meet with, and the number of nets to distribute to each village. There have been many challenges along the way: riots in the main town center of Velingara, snakes in our warehouse, and a 200-foot burning tree that dropped 100-pound blazing branches onto the only street in and out of town! But due to the extraordinary work of PCVs and our partners, as of April 17, 2010, we have distributed 86,193 nets to 575 villages.

My work as a PCRV has been more exhilarating, exhausting, rewarding, and challenging than I ever could have anticipated. I feel extremely lucky to have come back to Senegal as a Response Volunteer. I am able to use my local language skills (Fulaani) productively again, and I've been able to work in environments (both professionally and geographically) that I was not able to while I was a regular PCV. I have also had the opportunity to play a significant role in a landmark bed net distribution project, which has the potential to change the way distributions are done throughout Africa. Even though my body broke down on day 55 due to exhaustion, I would sign up for Response again in a heartbeat.

I am confident that due to my work here in Velingara, Senegal, Peace Corps and its partners will prevent deaths due to malaria this upcoming rainy season, and that is all I can ask for in an assignment. So now I figure it's my turn to tell other prospective RPCVs interested in doing Peace Corps Response to take this advice to heart: Peace Corps Response is truly more intense, more demanding, and more fulfilling.




Photogallery Velingara Senegal:



Panoramio - Photo of Velingara, Senegal.
Velingara Work Zone Meeting | Stomping Out Malaria in Africa
Velingara (Senegal) - julanguel (Gàmbia)

Panoramio - Photo of Sintian Gori, Bonconto, N6, Velingara, Senegal.
Panoramio - Photo of Sintian Gori, Bonconto, N6, Velingara, Senegal.
Panoramio - Photo of Velingara, Senegal.

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Collection: SENEGAL

Panoramio - Photo of Sintian Gori, Bonconto, N6, Velingara, Senegal.
121 Communities in Velingara-Ferlo Publicly Declare Abandonment of ...
Welcome to 2008 Photos The Gambia Senegal and Mauritania

Velingara in Senegal: general information, weather, map, photo and ...
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WFP Vouchers Via Magnetic Cards And Nutritition Activities In ...