Running at full speed best describes the past two weeks. We've mentioned the Maternal Newborn Care (MNC) project in previous posts, but this month we got to see first hand how this project works. We were so impressed by Dr. George Bennett and his wife, Marcia as well as Dr. Mark Underwood, who are the specialists that oversee the MNC in Bosnia. The Bennetts spend well over half of the year traveling to various countries around the globe to conduct the training workshops for MNC. Dr. Mark Underwood, Chief of Neonatology at UC - Davis, offers his expertise several times a year. These people volunteer their time and talents to help train doctors and nurses around the world how to perform newborn resuscitation. As a result of their efforts hundreds of babies lives are saved by the doctors and nurses who have learned proper resuscitation techniques. In the past 12 years since the program has been implemented in Bosnia, the infant mortality rate has been cut nearly in half and now approaches the same statistics as the U.S. To say this project has made a significant impact is an understatement. While many projects improve the quality of life in one way or another, this project literally saves lives. It is a "train-the-trainers" model which provides the skills doctors need to train even more newborn specialist how to save lives long after LDS Charities conducts the training workshops. It is a great example of empowering people to continue making a difference.
|Doctors from the hospital in Banja Luka taught the course, which|
included both lecture and hands on learning components.
|A nurse practices inserting a breathing tube on a NeoNatalie.|
|Dr. Mark Underwood oversees as doctors and nurses practice.|
When the American Academy of Pediatrics
releases an updated edition of the Newborn Resuscitation Manual, LDS Charities covers the expenses of having the manual translated from English to Bosnian and printed. Then to ensure doctors are up to date on current practices, LDS Charities offers training workshops in the various countries conducted by LDS Charities specialists. We assisted with three days of training in both Sarajevo and Banja Luka. The first day was focused on introducing new techniques and providing guidance to the doctors that would be training others during the two day training workshop. It was very impressive to watch how focused and determined the participants were in learning the skills they needed to save babies who have trouble breathing at birth. On the second day these doctors began training other doctors and nurses how to properly administer resuscitation. In all, about 130 medical professionals were trained. LDS Charities also provides each medical facility that had participants in training with a variety of materials, such as special newborn mannequins, so they can go back to their specific locations and train others.
|These simple, yet vital, techniques save many lives!|
|Dr. George Bennett demonstrates proper techniques.|
On the Saturday between the two MNC training workshops we spent the day with more doctors. This
project, in partnership with Muslim Aid and the medical association (BIMA), provided gynecological examinations to women in rural areas of Bosnia, specifically near Srebenica, where there is a significant number of widows due to the massacre of men there during the war. Due to cultural stigma, finances and rural locations, many women never have gynecological exams. Muslim Aid offered a similar project about five years ago and found that out of 100 women over 30% of the women who were screened had significant medical issues that needed follow up care. That's a staggering number. This project will provide approximately 225 extensive screenings in five rural villages. It also includes an hour long lecture on the importance of regular exams and the consequences of neglecting to have regular screenings done. Hopefully it will prevent unnecessary suffering among these women and provide follow up care for any who are determined to need further medical attention.
|A doctor explains the importance of regular gynecological exams.|
|This is one of the exam rooms set up in a rural school. Both of|
these doctors volunteer their time to assist BIMA with
community projects such as the women's health exams.
|The extensive exam included ultrasounds of breast and ovaries.|
BIMA has a great team of skilled volunteer doctors.
|Volunteering with BIMA allows 3rd year medical students an|
opportunity for hands on training and experience.
|Part of the group of partners, including Muslim Aid and BIMA|
along with some of the recipients of free exams.
|Me with Mersiha, one of our friends at Muslim Aid.|
They have been exceptional partners with LDS Charities
for many years. We are blessed to have their support.
|Women waiting for their turn for exams at a small rural school.|
|Alexis discussed several ways iPads can be used, with translation |
assistance from our church friend Iris. Alexis offered great insight
that helped the participants better understand the role of
technology for children with speech challenges.
Following the two weeks of MNC with women's health clinics sandwiched in between, we held our first training workshop yesterday for therapeutic and educational use of iPads. We did a small project last spring with Mala Sirena to determine the effectiveness of iPad usage among children with disabilities. Due to the tremendous positive results we are now expanding the program to include 12 other organizations that work with children with special needs. We are providing iPads and training to these organizations. During one of our visits to a center several months ago we asked them if they ever used tablets with the children. The director pulled out two tablets and said they had been donated by an NGO but they didn't know what to do with them besides let the kids play games... and they didn't want to do that so they had just put them in a drawer. So as we determined that iPads could be effective in Bosnia, we also determined that we needed to teach what a powerful tool they could be if used correctly. We completed our first of two full day training workshops yesterday. We had fifteen therapist/educators in attendance, including two people from Montenegro. In the same model as the MNC, we are "training the trainers" on this project.
|Edita and Jasminka from Mala Sirena guided participants through|
several hands-on activities to help them learn how to customize
several programs into Bosnian as well as for individual students.
I taught the basics of iPads, such as turning it on, settings, Apple IDs and all the boring, but necessary things. Alexis Wood, a church member who's husband works at the US Embassy, just happens to be a speech therapist. She graciously shared some very insightful information on why iPads are effective tools and several ways they can be used to assist with communication and education. And the third segment of the workshop was taught by Edita and Jasminka, two young ladies from our pilot project with Mala Sirena. They did a fantastic job demonstrating how to customize several programs into Bosnian language, introduced the group to many programs they have found very successful with their students and shared practical ideas they have used in their center. There was a lot of laughter as the participants were trying out some of the apps and doing hands-on practice. Overall, it was well received and the participants were very excited to put their new iPads to use with their students. And we aren't the least bit worried that the iPads will get put in a drawer and never used. They were all talking about sharing what they had learned with others. We look forward to the second training in two weeks on the opposite side of the country with another group of people who are trying to change the world for children with disabilities!
|Edita and Jasminka did an amazing job sharing their knowledge|
and helping everyone have a good understanding of several effective
apps they have used with their students at Mala Sirena.
|A participant tries to "Pinch the Pepper", an activity that helps|
develop fine motor skills such as holding a pencil.
As Thanksgiving is upon us, I have to admit that I feel blessed beyond words this year. While I miss my family and friends, I know that God has placed us here at this time for our benefit. While we may not know what's next in our journey, I know that this year I am thankful for the experiences, opportunities and people that have graced our lives over the past 16 months. And for the love and support of those at home who have encouraged us and made this mission possible.