Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The Health Challenge
Peace Corp Samoa has joined forces with the Ministry of Health to head up a program called Samoa Health Challenge. This is the third year they have done the health challenge and they have switched up the format a little in hopes to reach more Samoans. This year the volunteers are supposed to organize teams in the village. The challenge last four weeks and it is basically a competition between the villages to lose weight, but the emphasis is on healthy living this year and not as competition centered. Each participant is encouraged to eat healthy and walk every day making small sustainable changes toward a healthier lifestyle. We have all been a little nervous about this challenge as the volunteers before us faced a lot of challenges and reluctance last year. Also most of us have no health background and aren’t necessarily living the healthiest lives ourselves. Being obese is just so common place in Samoa and there is no preexisting emphasis in the culture on diet or exercise, it’s just not part of the Samoan mind set. I am not saying everyone here is happy with their bodies, they are definitely not. Trying to get Samoans living in the rural villages to eat less and walk ones a day many not seem like much of a challenge but it has turned out to be just that. I started the process of making teams and setting up for the challenge about three weeks ago. I found one team leader at the church my family goes to and one of my teachers. Both seemed very enthusiastic and even asked for an additional twenty packets for their teams. This morning was registration. I showed up at the designated time and place and registered nine people in two and a half hours. One team leader didn’t even show up. I know this is just part of working in Samoa but I can say I wasn’t a little disappointed. I sure that more people really did show interest but it’s just the way things go here. Everyone says yes to your face but the truth is a whole different thing. Some people were probably too scared, some had something come up at home, and some were probably just too lazy to leave the house on a Saturday. There is so much talk but not very much action. It’s the same at school with two meetings a week, during what should be class time, meant to help improve our school but it barely ever makes it in to the classroom. So new game plan: one- lower my expectations a little and remember I can’t look at this though my American eyes, two- be persistent. I am going to keep registration open two more days and carry the scale around with me so anybody that asks I can just whip it out and register them on the spot. Wish me luck!!