Posted by & filed under Education, FROG Projects, Guyana, Health, RPCVs.

RPCV Phillip Chan, Guy 15, was a repeat recipient of a FROG Grant. He returned to Guyana during his spring break from Jefferson Medical College with 5 of his classmates to continue on the work he started last year in St. Monica. Here is a summary of his project report…


The purpose of the trip was to build upon our previous work providing St. Monica residents with a cleaner source of drinking water.  Our group was composed of six Jefferson Medical College students (three first-years and three second-years).  We wanted to expand our project by installing additional rainwater catchment tanks in the neighboring village of Karawab as well as focusing on educating the community about proper water treatment and hygiene.  We had maintained contact with village leaders since last year’s trip and wanted to follow up on our promise to duplicate the water collection system installed at St. Monica Primary School with a similar, smaller scale one at Karawab Primary.  Plans had actually been made to complete this expansion last year but were limited by time constraints during our short time in-country.

Stand construction.

Stand construction. Pictured: Harold Miguel, Errol James

Prior to our trip we held local fundraisers here in Philadelphia while consulting with consulting with contacts on the ground in Guyana.  These included the tushao, Thomas Charles, St. Monica Primary Headmaster Nicholas Courtman, and Karawab Primary Headmistress Eve Samuels.  In addition, we also received support from Peace Corps Response Volunteer Nicole Baker, who was briefly posted to St. Monica in January of 2010, and Drs. Andrea Thorpe and Karen Schneider.  Dr. Thorpe is a member of the Rotary International Team which implemented a large-scale rainwater-catchment tank distribution in Kabakaburi (neighboring community on the Pomeroon) and who has been working with her organization to continue these efforts in St. Monica and Karawab during the summer of this year.  Dr. Schneider is the leader of a Johns Hopkins medical team which works on the Pomeroon each year conducting large clinics for the main Amerindian communities, and thus has a good working knowledge of the health challenges and outcomes of this patient population.

We flew into Guyana on the morning of Sunday, March 21, and finally arrived in St. Monica late the following day on Monday, March 22.  On Tuesday we started work at the school, conducting health outreach sessions on the importance of water treatment.  We engaged the students in “field experiments� to collect various water samples and utilized light microscopy to conduct basic wet mounts of our slides.  At the request of Headmaster Nicholas Courtman, we also worked alongside the school faculty, assisting the secondary division students with their Secondary School Research Projects (SSRP’s), required for the completion of their studies this academic year.

At the computer

Faculty training, IT education. Pictured: L: Devesh Upadhya (Jefferson MS2), Karawab Primary School Faculty.

Splitting our group into three pairs of teachers, we spent the morning and afternoon teaching Math, English, Science, and Social Studies.  While in Philadelphia, we had collected 4 used laptops for donation to the school, and were able to set these up using the school’s existing solar array to supplement our teaching with appropriate computer programs (Excel, Word, digital encyclopedias, etc.).  These activities formed the basis for our daily work at the village, and we continued them for the remainder of our time in St. Monica.

Viewing wet mount slides. Pictured: Brian Clark (Jefferson Medical College 2nd Year (MS2), Grades 4 -5, St. Monica Primary School.

On Wednesday, the group traveled up to Karawab with the tushao to ensure the delivery of the water tanks and proper construction of the water tank trestle at Karawab Primary.  We also conducted afternoon training sessions with Karawab’s secondary division students on the prevention of HIV and other STI’s, and a computer education class with the Karawab Primary School faculty using two of our donated laptops, which remained with the teachers for their further use at the school (like St. Monica, Karawab also has a solar panel array to power these computers).  We concluded our Karawab trip with the handover of 100 lbs. of children’s books collected in Philadelphia, providing a seed source for a new school library at the primary school (previously they had no extra reading books on hand for the students).

Farewell Ceremony

Farewell Ceremony at St. Monica Primary. Pictured: Grade 8 students (St. Monica Primary), Kunal Varkharia (Jefferson MS1).

Farewell Dinner

Farewell Dinner at St. Monica Primary School. Pictured: St. Monica Primary School Staff and Faculty, St. Monica – Karawab Village Leaders, and the Jefferson Medical College Clean Water Team! Paiwari boatracing followed shortly afterwards.

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