An update from Kristin Gagnon and Ryan Lomenda, MSc (Nursing) students from McGill University’s School of Nursing

I am now in the evaluation phase of the home based care project. I have spent two weekends accompaning the Peer Health Eductors on home care visits in the villages. This has provided an opportunity to observe how the PHEs are using the new knowlege and skills that they acquired during training, as well as a for hands-on teaching to further these skills. This includes assessing pain and administering medications, as well as some basic first aid training such as caring for burns and wounds, to name a few.

In addition to this I have also been performing more thorough physical assessments, which has been a wonderful learning experience for me and the clients usually are very appreciative. If necessary we will then make referrals to the health dispensary or hospital as necessary.

The time I have spent in the villages has been challenging, amazing and at times extremely moving. During my first weekend I was welcomed into a home to find a woman with a condition that caused her extreme pain.

Her husband said that she had been diagnosed in February, 2010, and that the pain had been worsening over the past month. I recommended that she be taken to the hospital so that she could be prescribed a stronger analgesic, however, the family wanted her to remain at home. Three days later the pain became unbearable so the family decided to take her to the government hospital.

I stopped in to see her a few days later on my way to the villages. She was still fully conscious and tried to speak when I took her hand to greet her but was unable to. I received word that night that she had passed away in the evening.

The following day I was invited to attend her funeral. Before the funeral I went to her home to pay my respects to her family. Her female family members were all huddled around her bed where her body lay. They were so vocal with their pain, crying, screaming, and singing songs of sadness. I was so moved that I couldn't help but break down myself and share in their pain.

The funeral took place in the catholic church and the burial immediately after. At the burial the men stood around the plot whereas the women of the village sat off to the side. People seemed to be very grateful for my attendance, and it was amazing for me to share in the experience, as difficult as it may have been.

Ryan's project has been continuing successfully as well. He has spent several days in the villages administering his questionnaires to primary school children in six schools to assess their knowledge, attitudes, and practices of HIV/AIDS. His questionnaire was very well received, and he finished with more than 800 completed questionnaires.

Now begins the fun task of data entry and analysis. Everyone here is eargerly awaiting the results.

Thanks and look forward to seeing you soon,