It’s been a busy July, and we were finally able to get the community health worker (CHW) training underway! Of course, since we are in the middle of monsoon season, the rains tend to get in everyone’s way. We were supposed to train 10 CHW, but 2 couldn’t make it on account of the rain. There is so much water, actually, that 5 of the women in our training told us we needed to be done before sunset since they need to cross a monsoon-made river by boat to return to their homes…very different.
The drive to Balichak (following one very….interesting….local train ride from Kolkata):
After weeks of preparations and translations, it was great to be able to conduct the training. Our awesome translator knew exactly when to probe, how to ask questions and really helped the women feel at ease with us. It was a busy 5 hours, a lot of which was spent having the women experiment with the phones. For all of them, it was their first experience with technology beyond a T9-style keypad phone (which they only use to make calls), and so a comprehensive tech overview of how to use the smartphone took up a good chunk of our time.
We also spent a large amount of time going over the clinical measurements and they all took the chance to practice with/on each other.
Finally, we spent the remainder of the time walking through each of the survey questions, really understanding what each one was asking, and then having them practice interviewing each other and me. Although Hindi is the national language of India, many of these women only know Bengali, and their English is basically memorizing relevant medical terms. They can also read English, but they don’t understand what it means. For example, we noticed that every time they saw the word “Date” (regardless of context), they always thought it meant “today’s date.” Every time they saw the word “Name,” they thought it was always going to be their names that they filled in.
The result of our busy day in Balichak was that the CHW are not proficient in English, and we are now in the process of converting all of our study material into Bengali. We are trying to make their jobs more fruitful, and making them learn/understand fancier English would only deter them from feeling successful in the field.
As my internship draws to a close, I will be working with the iKure team to construct a plan moving forward for how best to train these CHW and how to start our work. While it is unlikely that I will see the actual data come out of this study while I am still in country, it has been a wonderful experience to be a part of setting up the study and getting it off the ground.
The next update I post will be my last – hard to believe this summer is rapidly drawing to a close!