“One Health” Workshop in Ecuador

From 13 to 17 August, Director of Child to Child of the Americas, Celine Woznica, co-facilitated a workshop with long-term partner Centro Niño a Niño in Ecuador. Here, she shares her experience of sharing the innovative “educational knapsack” developed earlier in 2016, to engage children as partners promoting health.

Circle of participants symbolising one shared planet

In the cosmovision of the indigenous cultures of the Americas, there is no separating the health of humans from that of the Pachamama – Mother Earth.  All that composes our planet, from the essential elements of water, air, land, and fire to that which constitutes Life, is intricately connected in harmony and balance. Cuenca, Ecuador- based Centro Niño a Niño (Child to Child Center) recognizes a precarious imbalance within Life resulting from the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, affecting the vital realm of microbes, and resulting in devastating effects on the health of children and adults as bacteria become resistant to life-saving medications.

Recognizing the vital role of children in confronting this global health threat, Centro Niño a Niño partnered with the global network Action on Antibiotic Resistance (ReAct), and developed an “Educational Knapsack” (“Alforja Educativa”) which incorporates the Child to Child step methodology.  Consisting of activity guides, songs, videos, and stories, the toolkit is designed for use both within and outside the school setting. Through dynamic and easily replicable activities, children study and take action in response to human activities that cause antibiotic resistance.

In July 2016, the Alforja was introduced through a “train the trainer” workshop held in Cuenca. Approximately 40 teachers and community health activists participated and a rigorous evaluation of the toolkit proved it to be effective in raising children’s awareness about and taking action on antibiotic abuse.

Second Workshop on Child to Child methodology and the Educational Knapsack

Recently, Centro Niño a Niño sponsored a second workshop with selected educational and community leaders in Cuenca.  In addition to Ecuador, participants from El Salvador, Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina attended.  The Director of Child to Child of the Americas, Celine Woznica, co-facilitated the workshop with Centro Niño a Niño program director Silvina Alessio.

Workshop participants studied the problem of antibiotic abuse and antibacterial resistance, and the various ways children can respond in dynamic and sustainable ways. As with all Child to Child workshops, the participants reviewed the theory in the morning and put it into practice with children in the afternoon.

Children using puppets to portray the importance of balance in nature

Following the workshop, participants described a deeper appreciation of children’s capability to take action on issues that affect them. Delfín Buelva of Ecuador commented:

We have new knowledge to apply in our communities, beginning with understanding health not only as medical care, but as part of the environment, the land, the water, the problem of production and the consumption of meat. We must understand all of this to face bacterial resistance.

Ciria Trigos, a professor and researcher at the University of Puno, Peru, reflected on the value of the Child to Child methodology:

Working with children from the promotional preventive point of view is ideal, because it generates strength. Children meet in their own environment and with their peers to communicate effectively on important topics such as Mother Earth and her relationship with microorganisms and the use of antibiotics.

For more information on the materials and training, contact Celine Woznica at nanamericas@gmail.com or  Silvina Alessio at ninoanino.info@gmail.com.