Monday was our third weekly meeting in Menelas. Over the three meetings we have had a great turn out, if you consider better late than never to be true. Other than late starts (and consequently finishing late), the weekly meetings have been a key opportunity for us to connect with the entrepreneurs, hear their successes and difficulties and facilitate scheduling for promotional activities. We spend time each meeting on a community health education module. Through the curriculum we hope to empower our entrepreneurs with not only knowledge, but problem solving skills so that they can be agents for change in their community to improve health beyond their work with Kouzin Dlo.

The idea to have weekly meetings came about because we were brainstorming ways to increase entrepreneur retention by offering additional support to them and developing a sense of community within the business. Next we decided to include community health training as a way to create interest in the meetings while also providing the women with an educational opportunity. In turn the continued community health education will help inform their sales techniques and reinforce the importance of their work to improve health in their community.

We’ve been using PHAST community brainstorming and information gathering activities before digging into information heavy modules. This week we were using a set of 30 photos and having the women sort them into piles for good, bad and neutral behaviors. For each choice they had to describe what the person was doing and explain their sorting choice. It was awesome to see how they pulled on material we covered in the entrepreneur training in addition to other information they have learned from clinics and other community health programs. The first week of the health training was kind of slow going. We were getting the impression the women weren’t interested. Then this week came around and we had to actually cut off the activity because we were going way over the meeting time and hadn’t finished with the other meeting items.

With the success of weekly meetings in Menelas, it’s disappointing that they haven’t caught on in Bwa Nef. We only had one woman come to the first week and then none attended this week. Yet another factor to analyze in considering the successes and difficulties within each site.