Friday, November 18, 2011

A Day of G.L.O.W. in Nova Kakhovka


My former sitemate, Rachel Muhlstein, did some great things while here: one was taking such an active leadership role in GLOW camps (during her summers here), and another was that she formed an English club of some outstanding people, who have now become some of my best friends in Ukraine. Olya, Natasha, Tanya and a new member (from the Red Cross), Olya - all of them are extremely kind, are super fun to be around, and are active members of their community. They all have different things to bring to the table.

After taking part in Stephanie Somerman's GLOW (weekend) camp in her town of Chaplinka, Olya and I came back to Nova Kakhovka and filled the rest of the English club in. Natasha decided that we should recreate it in Nova Kakhovka, and we decided to cut it down to a half-day training, because we wanted to do it soon (before I left) and that's what we had time to plan. So, we had this seminar on Saturday, November 12. Seven awesome girls came.

Everything went very well, thanks to the English club. They completely took charge and organized the whole thing. All I had to do was request a room at my school, request the use of some equipment, and find the girls to attend. Natasha wrote out the agenda, with the help of Olya. Also, Natasha and Olya got a gynecologist to come as a guest speaker, as well as a woman who works at an organization in town that helps HIV-positive people. Olya from the Red Cross invited her colleague, Elena, who is a psychologist (exciting side note: I'm feeling very hopeful that the Red Cross is getting a Peace Corps volunteer! I really hope it happens - what great people they would be to work with. That PCV would be so lucky.)

Our training included:
Introductions (Natasha)
Human trafficking (me - thank you Tanya and Olya for translating!)
HIV/AIDS (Natasha from the HIV/AIDS org.)
Women's health (the gynecologist)
Gossip (Natasha)
Self-esteem (Elena)

The girls were so engaged; we really lucked out!

This was just the fist of many trainings. After I leave, the plan is that the English club will continue doing the same seminar at different schools in our town and in surrounding villages. Peace Corps always talks about sustainability. Talk about sustainability right here! I'm really happy we did this!

By the way, this five-hour seminar cost us a total of 25 grieven, about $3, for the coffee breaks. Any PCV, English club, Ukrainian, whoever, can do this! No paperwork, no grants, nothing needed. All you need is a room and some motivated girls and women.

HIV/AIDS project at School 8

In early October, a trainer who works for Peace Corps (his name is Sasha) traveled from Kharkov to Nova Kakhovka to give a training to 15 students at my school on HIV/AIDS: facts, statistics, prevention, and dispelling stigmas/discrimination against HIV-pos. people. The training lasted from 11 to 4.

In turn, the students at the training took the information they learned and recreated 45-minute lessons for younger students. The 9th/10th-graders split up into groups of three, and each Friday for about a month, they gave lessons to 5th-, 6th-, and 7th-graders on what HIV/AIDS is and gave a little insight on what it is like to live with it. The lessons were very interactive and, for the most part, kept the kids' attention, which is no easy feat. :)

Thanks so much to everyone who made this a very successful project! With just a $100 grant (which provided the materials for the training + classes, certificates, and stuff for coffee breaks at the initial training), we managed to educate approximately 75 people on the topic. I think that PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) is extremely effective and important, and it costs so little to make such a big impact. Americans: if you have the chance, please encourage our Congress to keep the program going. It's so important.