Litter is Bitter. Let’s do better. Communities Working to Prevent Zika in Grenada
The Grenada Red Cross Society (GRCS) is currently working in thirty-two communities in Grenada to educate the population and raise awareness about mosquito-borne diseases like Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. It is by no means an easy task as the team is small. Nevertheless, they get it done as they recognize the importance of the work they are doing.
Avion Baptiste, Community Facilitator with the Vector Borne Disease Prevention Project, especially enjoys seeing “the joy and fulfillment on faces when you would have done an activity or shared information that people find useful.” Avion is bubbly and full of enthusiasm so it’s no surprise that she also loves “working with the community so that they can see what they can become with our help.”
Enlightened. Engaged. Empowered. That is what communities become after interacting with the Grenada Red Cross. This is evidenced by the fact that the community of Bellevue has established a steering committee to tackle the issues raised by community members. Manager of the Zika Response and Prevention Project in the Caribbean, Abdul Nasir Khan, was very impressed by this fact on his field visit there. “Amazing” was how he described a wall presentation done by the residents of Bellevue in response to an assessment of their health needs. Despite the fact that there is a lot of division in Bellevue and many of its residents don’t agree, the committee is determined to chart a way forward.
Mon Toute is another community in Grenada that has felt the effect of the Grenada Red Cross and the persistence of its Zika Team. It is a place that visitors are warned not to go because of the high crime and drugs. It is also an area that was experiencing serious problems with dumping. However, after the intervention of the GRC, the land that was being used in a way that was creating a problem was cleaned and was transformed into a useful solution – it is currently being used to plant produce. The consequences of the dumping went beyond environmental and health concerns, it also caused contention in the community. One gentleman refused to come out and participate in the cleanup activity declaring, “the people too nasty!” Never daunted, the team cajoled him, and the end result? He came and cleaned the most. In fact, he took up a leadership position and became the mastermind of the effort.
The phenomenon that occurred in La Tante is perhaps a final testimony on the impact of the Grenada Red Cross. As the field officers conducted their initial assessment, they were approached by the young men of La Tante who requested that they return and provide information and education on particular health issues plaguing their community. The team facilitated this request and, owing to the size of the community, did two presentations on Zika, prostate cancer, and the signs of a heart attack.
Bellevue, Mon Toute, La Tante, places with names that speak to the history of Grenada but that are experiencing the problems of modern times. It augurs well then that they all have residents who are determined to do better and be better. This desire for improvement does not stop at assessments and presentations. Instead, supported by the Grenada Red Cross, these residents and those in the other twenty-nine communities, will develop a plan of action that identifies the steps they must take to address their issues and to secure their future.