This week for #InsideAPE, we sat down with Alejandra Alvarez, rising 2nd year EPI MPH student to talk about her work this summer with San Rafael Verano Ocupado: Art and WASH Summer Camp at World Water Relief (WWR) in San Rafael de Barahona, Dominican Republic.
Tell us about your APE project.
The main goal of my APE is to implement a WASH themed summer camp for the youth in San Rafael. I am in charge of making lesson plans which include the activities and discussion questions that will engage the youth in WASH topics that directly affect them. For example, one week we talked about pollution in the oceans and rivers and the effect on human health. They were able to discuss the types of pollution they see, how they imagine the pollution can be prevented, and how the pollution affects them because San Rafael sits right on the beach and a river.
WWR also does WASH education and monitoring throughout the school year in other communities in the southwestern region of the Dominican Republic. My other responsibility for the summer is to look through the logs and see how WASH behaviors and attitudes, such as how often school children wash their hands and whether or not a school bathroom has soap, changes throughout the school year.
How did you find your APE project?
I found WWR by looking through an interactive map on the APE website. I knew I wanted to complete a WASH APE and I wanted to work in a Latin American country so the map was very helpful in finding an organization where Rollins students previously completed their APEs. After reaching out to WWR and explaining my previous experience and learning objectives, my site supervisor and I agreed on a summer camp where the youth of the community can learn WASH concepts through fun activities and discussions while also doing art. Dr. Christine Moe also helped guide me through the GFEFA application and work through my objectives and methods.
What has the experience been like so far?
Since I am teaching and living in the small town of San Rafael, a big part of my time has been getting to know the community and seeing my students outside the classroom setting. I’ve had a lot of fun seeing the kids at the beach and river, having them come over and playing with my host family, and picking up trash with me at a community beach clean-up. I look forward to seeing the youth in and outside the classroom for the rest of the summer.
One happy surprise that came about from the summer camp is that the girls wanted to be part of a group where we would talk about issues that deal with growing up. So far we have talked about the menstrual cycle and feminine hygiene. They are really enthusiastic about the group and gave suggestions for future topics such as how to support friends, healthy relationships, and intimate partner violence. While I enjoy the WASH component of this APE, I am most excited about what comes about from this girls group.
Alejandra Alvarez is a rising 2nd year EPI MPH student with research interests related to infectious disease and waterborne diseases.