Sunday, February 28, 2010

Saving lives one breath at a time, the Tonga Red Cross and Matamaka.

(PHOTO: Group photo of all the participants at the TONGA RED CROSS workshop in Matamaka.)

CPR or puhi manava (in Tongan) and First Aid have been the main topics in Matamaka during this past week as the Tonga Red Cross and I worked together to certify twenty-four men and women from Matamaka and neighboring outer-island villages. The event was part of a four day workshop that took place at three separate outer-island villages around the Vava’u island groups. The villages of Matamaka, Otea, and Hunga were the villages that hosted this event. Members from the outer-island communities were invited to attend the free community first aid and CPR workshop. At the end of the workshop, every participant received a certificate for the successful completion of the Red Cross training.

I was very lucky to have been involved with the Red Cross. A woman by the name of Kato, a Tonga Red Cross community outreach coordinator of 34 years, approached me in Matamaka and asked if I would like to help out. I could not believe she would even ask, of course I would love to help out! It just happened to turn out that I had a CPR dummy from Peace Corps with me at my house. What awesome luck eh? As a result, I assisted Kato with the CPR training portion of the workshop.

(PHOTO: Doing my thing...)

The entire CPR training was very informative to all of the participants. They asked many questions and had the opportunity to practice CPR on one of the three CPR dolls at the event. Surprisingly enough, the Tongans made the entire CPR practice comical with their rambunctious (however sometimes inappropriate) jokes ("sio mahaki?"). Furthermore, I found it very amusing when we had problems removing the lipstick stains off the CPR dolls. All the participants dressed up at their best for certificate ceremony, which included bright red lipstick with most of the women.


(PHOTOS: Both men and women took turns practicing CPR on the dummies.)

After a couple rounds with the CPR dummies and a review of all the topics covered that week, the presentation of certificates commenced. All of the participants were very proud of their new certificates, as well as the completion of the workshop. The event ended with a kai pola (feast) with everyone involved. The food was delicious and we all had a great time. The community members were very appreciative with the entire program. I would consider the event as a complete success. About an equal amount of men and women attended the event. It has been a comfort to know that important lifesaving skills have been shared to the people on the outer-islands, where modern health care has been non-existent.

I look forward to be involved with future Tonga Red Cross community initiatives on the outer-islands of Vava’u. In addition, I hope to be an excellent resource for first aid and CPR for all those interested in my community until the end of my Peace Corps service. My next objective will be to work with GPS Matamaka students and staff with first aid/CPR and to continue addressing various healthcare issues on the outer-islands.

(PHOTO: Kato and I after the presentation of certificates. She was off to the village of Hunga next with her workshops.)

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