By Asya Muhsin Othman (YES 2007-2008, Tanzania, placed by IRIS in Cedar Rapids, IA)
During my YES exchange year in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where I attended Linn Mar High School and was hosted by Adriane Van Auken, I learned many things. I was exposed to different cultures and lifestyles, soaked in the American high school experience, and made lifelong friends with whom I still communicate and even visit occasionally.
Fast forward nearly 14 years after returning home from my exchange year, and I’m a medical doctor working at Mnazimmoja National Refferrer Hospital in Zanzibar. As a doctor, I see many patients who could have benefitted from, but did not receive, first aid prior coming to the hospital after an accident or injury. With the knowledge that there is a great need for first aid training in my community, I decided to apply for a YES Alumni Grant.
I determined that the target group should be teenagers because they are most likely to engage in activities that could cause injury. Through my Alumni Grant project, I held first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) trainings in 10 schools: three schools in Northern Unguja, three in Southern Unguja, and four in the Urban West. My team and I trained 100 students at each school, for a total of approximately 1000 students, on how to do CPR, how to use a first aid kit and its contents, and alternative options when a first aid kit is unavailable.
Knowledge of first aid is something that all community members should have to support one another in our daily lives; therefore, I had the full support of all the schools and the Ministry of Education for my project. The students were very eager to learn these techniques and are now ready to apply the knowledge they’ve gained in their local communities.
I extend my thanks to the sponsor of this great project, the U.S. Department of State. Thanks are also owed to the Zanzibar Outreach Program for providing the time of their great trainers and my fellow YES alumni for their support and contribution to this project.