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Originally produced for UNICEF

Tsungribu Village

The village of Tsungribu, population 710, went through the “Colour My House” process in March 2001. Eleven families took part in the first session. Four others are scheduled so that eventually all families will be included.

Simon Bukare, the nursing officer from the mission health centre up-river at Anabeg, opened the meeting.

“You’ve all had the same trouble at the health post.,” he said. “The nurse gives you an injection and never tells you why. She gives you medicine and doesn’t say what it’s for!” Everybody laughed.

He held up the picture of the house. “You’ve all got one of these. Today you are going to colour your house so that you can see if your family is healthy.” He asked everyone to look at the first “window” of their house (dealing with immunization for infants up to one year old) and to describe what they saw.

People were shy at first but some of the men spoke up. “The nurse is giving an injection,” said one.

“Good,” Simon said, “Anything else?”

“Mother is bringing baby to the clinic for an injection,” said another.

“Very good!” shouted Simon, clapping his hands and everyone joined in. He spoke fast, kept moving, cracked jokes and tried to keep everyone involved. He asked why immunizations were given and what for. People said they were for sut (tuberculosis) and pek pek wara (diarrhoea) and other diseases. Simon explained the purpose of the immunizations and then asked how many times a baby had to receive them before they were one Christmas (year), and gave the answers if nobody knew. All important points he wrote on the blackboard.

Most people in Tsungribu cannot read but writing their words was a way of showing they were valuable. He used the cue cards that are supplied to all the trainers. These have a large illustration on one side relating to one of the indicators and all the questions to be asked of the community and relevant factual information on the other. The cards helped to keep the discussion focussed, stimulated awareness and helped families to make informed choices.

After the discussion it was time to colour the first “window.” This only applied to immunization in the first year so Simon asked everyone who had a baby less than one Christmas old to raise their hands. All those who didn’t raise their hands had to colour that first window blue. The rest had to work out whether their infants were fully immunized or not. None of them were so they all had to colour that first window red. All the other windows were covered in the same way. Sometimes Simon spoke, sometimes the Ward Member, or the aid post worker, everyone helped until all the windows were coloured.