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In November 2011, Skillshare International development worker Dr Dinesh Baliga was honoured with a Karmaveer Puraskaar award for his commitment to reducing poverty, injustice and inequality at a ceremony in Delhi.
Dr Baliga joined Skillshare International in 2003 on placements in the districts of Kalahandi and Koraput in Orissa where he trained community volunteers as health workers and supported the health outreach programmes of Seba Jagat and SOVA.
He firmly believes that education and awareness are key to improving health. By establishing village health committees and working with the community health workers and Vaidya (traditional healers), Dr Baliga has had a positive impact in a range of areas including:
Dr Baliga uses innovative concepts and models to understand local needs and improve the health status of vulnerable communities, including role plays, drawings, Mathi Kundi (savings pot to pay for maternity and post-natal care), Annaprasanna (weaning ceremony) and mosquito net lottery.
Returned Skillshare International development worker Carolyn Atkinson is revisiting Uganda to catch up with former colleagues and meet with the Uganda Association of Occupational Therapists to discuss their plans for future projects.
Carolyn is part of the OT Frontiers network in the UK and will be sharing her experience with other members, including fellow Skillshare International alumni, when she returns so that they can identify ways to continue their support to occupational therapists in Uganda.
The next quarterly OT Frontiers meeting will be held in Watford (UK) at 11am on Saturday 23rd July. For more info, please contact MaryAnn Waddell (another of our fantastic returned development workers!) at firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the first issue of the OT Frontiers newsletter.
Skillshare International's alumni have been sharing their first-hand experience of health care in Africa with students in the East Midlands this month.
Medical Students International (Medsin) presented its first regional Midlands Conference on Saturday 5th March, supported by Skillshare International and Maternal and Child Health Advocacy International. The collaborative event, between Leicester and Nottingham Medsin branches, covered the theme of maternal and child health allowing medical, midwifery, nursing and other health professional students to explore healthcare and development issues both at home and abroad.
Dr Zoe Walker gave a unique insight into maternal health in Mozambique, where she was a development worker with Skillshare International, and Dr Lydia Stone led an interactive workshop on on maternal mental health and the implications for children's health - an issue that is often neglected in developing countries.
Biki Isharaza from our Leicester office also attended the event and said, "It was great listening to presentations that Dr. Zoe Walker and Dr. Lydia Stone made, largely drawn from their experiences as development workers in Mozambique and Tanzania. All of the medical students I spoke to said the workshop was insightful as well as thought provoking."
In October 2010, returned Skillshare International development worker Peter Cer Sanchez launched the new website Click-Botswana.com featuring news, entertainment reviews, a business directory and other info from Botswana.
When she visited friends and family in the UK in 2009, Skillshare International development worker Wairimu Gachungi extended her trip to raise awareness of HIV and AIDS issues.
Deeply committted to raising awareness and building a better understanding of issues related to the spread of HIV, Wairimu led discussions with 40 health and development practitioners and community volunteers in Leicestershire.
Wairimu, who was the HIV and AIDS Mainstreaming Officer with Kang Brigade Development Trust in Botswana from 2007 until early 2010, shared examples of good practice including integrating health messages into sport and entertainment, community mobilisation, and peer education and counselling.
The audiences engaged in lively discussions about the challenges of cultural differences such as attitudes to violence against women, under age sex and sex between men (which is illegal in Botswana). The events were jointly organised by Skillshare International and Leicestershire AIDS Support Services.
Lack of understanding in both the North and South continues to be a serious impediment to tackling the HIV epidemic. By building awareness in the UK and in Botswana, we are able to contribute to increased understanding, particularly of the role of culture in both the causes of and the response to the spread of HIV.