Through our eyes

We have been discussing Sister Norah’s training throughout the past month. Her general first-aid training offered a wonderful learning experience, both for BCC’s employees and for us! Her teaching style was incredible and she was very engaging throughout her training sessions!

At her first training in early June, Sister Norah taught everyone about general first-aid. She used questions and cultural insight to guide her training. Initially she divided the BCC staff into about eight groups, which included us. She started asking everyone questions about first-aid and each group wrote down the answer they believed to be true. At the end, everyone shared their answers and the larger group selected the best answer. The format seemed simple enough, but it soon became very complicated!

The first question she asked was how to properly treat a burn. The two Tanzanians in our group turned to us and asked what we thought. Without hesitation we both said in a confused tone, “Run the burn under water.” They discussed this in Swahili and ultimately our group decided to go with that answer.

After some discussion Sister Norah brought all of the groups back to the larger group. She asked each group to give their answer. Since not everyone speaks English, they were speaking in Swahili. Our Swahili comprehension is still not very good, but we understand enough to know that some of the answers were not water. The other groups said that they would treat a burn with honey, eggs, and rabbit fur. When it was our turn, we were very confused. We stuck with our answer of running the burn under water, but because of outside pressure, we were not very confident. In fact, after we gave our answer, everyone laughed at us! The discussion interrupted the training and everyone decided to vote running water over the burn off of the group list!

Sister Norah used this as a teaching point. She explained why honey, eggs, and rabbit fur would not work to treat a burn. She discussed how sometimes the home remedies that Tanzanians develop seem to work, but they really do not.

Another question that Sister Norah asked was how to properly treat a nose bleed. We said to pinch the nose and put cotton in it to stop the bleeding. The Tanzanian home remedy was to put a wet wash cloth on the person’s forehead. We were both wrong. Sister Nora explained that putting a wet wash cloth on someone’s head does not work. She also explained that in Tanzania most of the cotton is not sterilized. So you should pinch the nose and lean the head forward. If you use cotton to stop the bleeding, you could infect the wound.

In the second training Sister Norah taught everyone how to use the first-aid information in a practical situation. She gathered everyone around a large table (see photo below) and she explained a scenario that required first-aid. It was a very practical method and everyone was very engaged! Also, all of the staff internalized the lessons that she taught at the previous training. No one tried to put honey on a burn or put a wet washcloth on someone’s forehead as treatment for a nose bleed. It was amazing to see how much everyone had learned after just two short trainings with Sister Norah!

Sister Norah’s training sessions were very informative and we learned many things! The most important thing we learned is that with some things it is vital to have a local individual direct the training. Sometimes westerners forget that there are often cultural home remedies that are passed down through generations. For a local person who understands the culture to explain why traditional methods do not work is very powerful. Because Sister Norah is Tanzanian, she knows what questions to ask and she knows what home remedies may be used by the staff. She also knows how to properly correct the wrong response.

A westerner may have laughed at the idea of putting honey on a burn; we did. They definitely would have not understood why that was brought up in the first place. The fact that she understands what the home remedies are and how to correct them is probably the most beneficial teaching tool that she has.

We are excited to have met Sister Norah. She has become a very valuable tool that is available to BCC. This will not be the last time that BCC uses Sister Norah for training the day center and in home staff. BCC is already working with her to schedule a general hygiene training and a general children’s nutrition training!

We look forward to these trainings and we are sure we will learn a great deal from Sister Norah!

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