DESCRIPTION OF VOLUNTEER SERVICE
DESCRIPTION OF TRAINING
Kate Lena began Peace Corps Nicaragua’s community based training program in the town of Masatepe, Masaya on January 17, 2011. The intensive 11-week program was designed to help trainees adapt to actual field situations, while living with Nicaraguan families. Living with a family not only helps with the improvement of Spanish language skills, but also allows volunteers to familiarize themselves with Nicaraguan culture. The program included 8 hours a day of formal instruction in Spanish. Kate entered Peace Corps with an intermediate middle language level, which allowed her to test out of Spanish classes halfway through training. Spanish classes were replaced with extra classes to give in the health centers and schools, non-formal surveys and trips to the market. After taking her final language exam, Kate will be finishing Peace Corps with an Advanced High Spanish level. The training program also included formal sessions on Nicaraguan culture, customs and orienting to health education techniques and familiarity with governmental and non-governmental programs in Nicaragua. It consisted of approximately 180 hours of Spanish language studies, 56 hours in technical aspects of community health promotion, and 30 hours in cross cultural studies. An additional 101 hours of non-formal and self-directed activities were carried out in technical and cross-cultural themes at the community level.
Aside from technical trainings and formal classes, the training program allows volunteers to make real, lasting relationships with a Nicaraguan host family. Being far away from home can be difficult and the people Peace Corps volunteers live with can help ease the feelings of homesickness and loneliness. Kate lived with an amazing host family and has been back to visit them 6 times over the past two years. Although this is not a formal part of the program, it is extremely important.
After successful completion of training, Kate Lena was sworn in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua on April 1, 2011.
PRIMARY WORK ASSIGNMENT
Kate Lena served as a Healthy Lifestyles volunteer assigned to the Ministry of Health (MINSA) in Corinto, Chinandega located in the north western region of Nicaragua on the coast. Her area of work generally concentrated in MINSA’s Youth Center and Clinic located near Corinto’s hospital. The Casa y Clinica de los Adolescentes is a safe space for youth, where they can come with sexual and reproductive health concerns and questions without fear of being judged. The youth who were trained at the Casa y Clinica have now opened their own Association apart from MINSA, called, Association Youth Footprints (Asociacion Huellas Juveniles or ASOHJUV). Kate now divides her time between ASOHJUV and the Casa y Clinica.
As a Healthy Lifestyles worker Kate worked in coordination with MINSA and ASOHJUV in a youth soup kitchen, clean-up campaigns, health classes in the schools and neighborhoods and creating health care related materials for the health center. Kate worked directly with community health workers and youth health workers, providing them with training and support. In collaboration with the Casa y Clinica, she trained 50 youth to be health promoters and designed a youth health work manual to be used by the youth promoters. Principal and secondary activities include the following:
- Established, coordinated and managed the donations for a Youth Soup Kitchen that provided lunch three times a week to 30 undernourished children. In addition to providing lunch, the Soup Kitchen volunteers also gave weekly talks on personal hygiene, communication, domestic violence and common infections and illnesses.
- Designed and implemented a manual for the “School of Youth Health Promoters” in Spanish; includes class plans for 16 sexual and reproductive health sessions. I recruited 60 students to participate in this training program, which consists of 2 trainings per month on domestic violence, teen pregnancy, birth control methods, self-esteem, effective communication methods, STIs and HIV, as well as how to form a youth group and how to teach these topics to their peers. After graduating from the program, promoters form youth groups and re-teach everything they learned during the Promoter School.
- Assisted in the development of the Asociacion Huellas Juveniles (Youth Footprints Association) which is a non-profit organization formed by a group of youth from Corinto. The Association focuses on the empowerment of youth through peer-to-peer education. A few of the projects the Association is working on are: latrine building project, domestic violence shelter, youth groups, health classes in the schools, English and German classes, free psychological sessions and activities promoting sexual and reproductive rights.
- Planned and facilitated large conferences and weekly class sessions in 1 high school and 8 elementary schools on a variety of health topics including HIV, sexually transmitted infections, teen pregnancy, malaria, dengue and sexual and reproductive health rights
- Organized and participated in 10 health fairs, 4 HIV themed pool tournaments and 8 mobile movie nights on the streets of Corinto, using a variety of media to educate the population on sexual and reproductive health
- Promoted the sexual and reproductive rights of youth through a variety of activities, including a city-wide parade and butterfly-themed carnival float decorated with informational posters
- Worked with the 35 members of the local sex worker union, promoting HIV testing, self-breast exams and completing annual Papanicolaou exams
- Assisted in a sexual and reproductive health education research study which tested the health knowledge 380 public high school students had and how this relates to teen pregnancy and youth being infected with sexually transmitted infections
- Assisted in the grant proposal and project development of Nicaragua’s 2nd Domestic Violence Shelter. I will continue to be involved in this project after Peace Corps, by searching for funds to bring this project to life.
- Designed and implemented an hour and a half long training on Pre and Post HIV Test Counseling in Spanish, to the 39 other Healthy Lifestyle and Maternal and Child Health Peace Corps Volunteers and their 39 Nicaraguan counterparts.
COMPLETION OF SERVICE
Kate Lena completed her Peace Corps service on the March 19, 2013.
At the completion of service, Kate was tested by a certified Peace Corps Language Proficiency Interview (LPI) tester utilizing the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) assessment scale and was assessed with the proficiency rating of Advanced High in Spanish.
“Pursuant to section 5(f) of the Peace Corps Act, 22 U.S.C. 2504(f) as amended, any former Volunteer employed by the United States Government following Peace Corps Volunteer service is entitled to have any period of satisfactory Peace Corps Volunteer service credited for purposes of retirement, seniority, reduction in force, leave and other privileges based on the length of Government service. Peace Corps service shall not be credited toward completion of the probationary or trial period or completion of any service requirement for career appointment.”
“This is to certify in accordance with Executive Order 11103 of April 10, 1963, that Kate Lena served satisfactorily as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Her service ended on March 19, 2013. She is therefore eligible to be appointed as career-conditional employee in the competitive civil service on a non-competitive basis. This benefit under the Executive Order entitlement extends for a period of one year except that the employing agency may extend the period for up to three years for a former Volunteer who enters military service, pursues studies at a recognized institution of higher learning, or engages in other activities which, in the view of the appointing authority, warrants extension of the period.”