On 2nd-6th September the NFHSDP had the privilege to assist Sr. Maureen, the Coordinator of Mercy Works Kiunga to facilitate a ‘Community Action and Participation’ training at Sewetekin village in North Fly. Sr, Cathy Yaki from Catholic Health Services also co-facilitated the training and Zean, our boat skipper, allowed us to get to and from Sewetekin safely.
CAP training is an important component of the Healthy Islands Program and has the ultimate goal of “Promoting Health through Community Action & Participating, helping people to help themselves”. The training was a key activity for both Sr Cathy and Sr Veronica as they have recently been trained to provide such training as a component of the Healthy Islands agenda. This was their opportunity to use their skills and knowledge, under Sr Maureen’s guidance, to work with the Sewetekin community to identify their needs in terms of improving aspects of their communities that will support them to maximize health and minimize illness and disease.
“Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health. To reach a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, an individual or group must be able to identify and to realize aspirations, to satisfy needs, and to change or cope with the environment. Health is therefore, seen as a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities. Therefore, health promotion is not just the responsibility of the health sector, but goes beyond healthy life-styles to well-being”
Ottawa Charter for Health promotion 1986.
Forty-six people (13 men, 6 women and 17 children) participated in the training. Of the 46 participants, approximately 75% (including all women) were illiterate, while 17% (eight men) spoke pidgin and understood but could not speak English. Only one man could communicate in all three languages so he kindly provided his services as translator for focus group discussions and interviews.
The six fundamental components of the Sewetekin village CAP training were: Step 1 – Get to know the community, Step 2 – Work with community to determine their needs, Step 3- Decide what to do, Step 4 – Plan how to do it, Step 5 – Take action together and Step 6 – Evaluate how well we do it. Step 5 and 6, although discussed during this training, will be addressed later this year.
After conducting community social mapping, household surveys and focus group discussions which incorporated the use of innovative tools like drawing a ‘Community Dream Map’ and identifying strengths, opportunities, weakness and threats (SWOT) using a ‘Snakes and Ladders’ game concept were identified.
The community was then asked to list their identified needs into the following three categories: most important, important and least important. After much discussion, led by the resident men, the needs identified as most important were for clean water and a water tank, ventilated improved pit (VIP) toilets, clean up the local elementary school and construct an environmentally friendly rubbish pit.
Important issues included: cleaning the track to the creek, improving adult literacy, making a nutritious garden, the need for a sewing machine and a field for youth to play safely in. The least important issues identified included: a motor dingy, a radio, a lighting source and a mini hydro unit.
A plan to address the most important issues was then compiled including a risk management plan. The next phase of the healthy village program will include a request by CHS to invite the NFHSDP Environmental Health Officer to provide technical assistance to install a water tank in the last week of September 2013 in Sewetekin village.
The Program looks forward to continuing to work with Sr Maureen, Mercy Works and CHS to progress this practical Healthy Village plan for the Sewetekin community.
 A healthy Island Approach, AusAID, September 2002