Monday, June 21, 2010

Updates: April to... now.

It's been a while and a lot has happened since I last posted on my activities so I will do my best to fill in the large blank spot.
I have been helping my partner organization AESD in several capacities. First and foremost, I help them with the health related activities by giving presentations. AESD gets funding from larger organizations called PSI (Population Services International) and several other larger organizations. Their focus is on BCSM (Behavior Change and Social Marketing). Under BCSM, AESD trains groups around Rwamagana district such as Model Couples (married couples that show good life skills like family planning etc.), Peer Educators (out of school youth who train kids their age), Coach Capitan (out of school youth trained to train others at sports events), Compassionate Community (elected members who identify community needs and discuss ways to solve them) and they also train religious leaders. All of these groups are trained in HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning methods, malaria prevention and some times other subjects like safe water (how to sanitize water for drinking) etc. I help AESD do this. Peace Corps trained us all in Public Health which deals with all of these topics. At these training events I give interactive lectures with the help of my counterpart Jules. For family planning (FP) I teach people about the different methods of FP but especially the male condom. I give demonstrations, using wooden penises, on how to correctly use a condom as well as some basic information on condoms. During this time I try to dispel some of the myths surrounding such sensitive topics. The youth center project has been put on hold due to the difficulty finding funding for building projects.
So I have done this off and on. It sounds like a lot but it turns out that there's still more time. On the side, I helped create a club for the girls from Rwamagana who attended our Camp GLOW in December. With the club, I have helped train (with the help of two trusty volunteers Colleen and Kara) the girls a little bit further on health topics which can be pretty broad. We do a lot of work on something we call "Life Skills". This includes relationship skills, communication skills, career development etc.
Even after this... I still have a lot of time on my hands. With the help of another PCV I have successfully installed a program that allows me to play Nintendo 64 and Super Nintendo on my computer. I have mastered Mario Kart 64!! I have been playing A LOT of guitar too! I still play a lot of Flamenco of course but I have actually been focusing on learning to play and sing at the same time. I have learned a bunch of tunes that I love from Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and even the White Stripes! Emmett and I have started an unofficial duo (I play and sing, and he sings). Little by little I am learning but it is difficult to play and sing at the same time.
Here's a short list of the things I have done.
  • Got Schistosomiasis (a parasitic disease caught from swimming in contaminated waters). I took the meds... I'm okay.
  • Learned Dolly Partons hit "Jolene". "Jolene, I'm beggin of you please don't take my man!"
  • Went to Gisenyi for a week-long training on Human resources management. I was told it was a mental health conference. (the infamous language barrier got the best of me)
  • Learned how to say ambulance in Kinyarwanda. "Imbangukiragutabara". Yep. Not braggin or anything. Just sayin...
  • Went to MSC (Mid-service Conference) for Peace Corps for a week in Kigali with access to a pool. Sweeeeet.
  • Swam in lake Kivu once again.
  • Watched the world cup matches!!
{Pics} (left) the picture on the left is from the camp site I stayed at. (right) how Rwandans transport traditional cows with huge horns.

...Until next time. Ijoro jyiza na ishya (good night and good luck)


  1. Greetings from USA! I love your blog.
    Please visit me at:

  2. Hi Brandon,
    My teammates and I are students at the University of Pennsylvania, and part of a research team under the mHealth Alliance of the United Nations Foundation (UNF). Two of us are ex-Peace Corps Volunteers (Togo and Dominican Republic). Our goal is to study how mobile technology can address maternal health issues in four countries, including Rwanda.

    To this end we will be traveling to Rwanda from August 23 – 27. We would be very interested to meet with persons or NGOs in Rwanda responsible for maternal healthcare projects. If you have any recommendations of people and organizations to meet, we would appreciate any advice you may have about working in Rwanda.

    Please forward this email onto any other volunteers or people you may know that may help us while we are visiting.

    Thank you so much and it has been so much fun reading your blog - it takes me back to my own PC experience!

    Caitlin Dougherty
    University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing