Tag Archives: staying healthy

Sports for Gorillas In Rwanda Is Great Thanks To John Terpkosh/NJTL

From Julie Ghrist

Art of Conservation recently received a remarkable gift of $1000 from National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) of Des Moines thanks to our supporter John Terpkosh.

Thank you John Terpkosh! Art of Conservation 2013Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club’s Coach Rachid installs a new tennis net thanks to NJTL.

Olivier Habimana, the president of Musanze District’s Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club, immediately put the generous grant money to the purchase and installation of a much needed new net. Funds left over has been allocated to the clubs monthly maintenance of water and electricity fees.

Thank you John for your continued support. I know first-hand how your goodness has benefited many individuals and communities.


From Julie
From Julie

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Tonya Huston visits AoC classes. Imidido Project. 2013Tonya with AoC students and team at Rushubi School, Kinigi.

More Lessons On How To Stay Healthy

From Julie
From Julie

Late last year, Lori Howe, Ellen Strachota, and Tracy Levine arrived in Rwanda to visit us and with them they brought huge duffle bags filled with dental supplies donated from their friends in Des Moines, Iowa. We just loved it and love them! This week, each student receives their own toothbrush and toothpaste and are incredibly pleased – most likely their first time ever to have such things.

Staying Healthy lessons. Art of Conservation March 2013Upon receiving toothbrushes and paste, these boys closely examine their new gifts.

We discuss the importance of oral hygiene as well as the traditional methods for brushing teeth each day such as using a pointed tip of bamboo or eucalyptus twigs and cloth tied at the end of a twig. All of the students have a chance to sit in front of mirrors and watch themselves as they brush their teeth for about 2 to 3 minutes.

Staying Healthy lessons. Art of Conservation March 2013Eusebe encourages the children to brush gently and thoroughly.

Thank you again Lori, Ellen, and Tracy for bringing us such excellent supplies – they are being put to good use!

Preventing Common Illnesses in Communities Near The Park

From Julie
From Julie

Valerie asks, “How do you feel today?”
“Good, happy, joyful.” respond the children.
“What do you get to do when you feel healthy?” Valerie asks.
“Go to school and play with friends!” children eagerly reply.

Washing our hands at Art of Conservation 2013Our students receive bars of soap and washcloths and practice washing their hands with buckets of water and plastic basins seen here in the photo. There is no running water at the schools.

Valerie teaches the children that to avoid getting sick from common illnesses they need to practice good hygiene. With that, she proceeds to demonstrate effective hand washing and distributes soap and washcloths to all of the students. The classroom fills with even more happiness and joy!

Washing our hands at Art of Conservation 2013Children learn our hand washing rules during this weeks staying healthy lessons.

Every student gets a chance to practice washing their hands with the buckets of water and plastic basins we brought in. Outside of the classroom are handwashing stations AoC has provided although they are in disrepair. We will look for a more sturdy design to replace them. If you have a nice design idea, we would love learning about it. Thank you!

Bright Smiles at Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club

Hi. This is Olivier. Rwanda’s children are on break from school for a few weeks as the first term comes to a close. The country also pauses for a moment of reflection in observance of the 1994 Genocide. With permission of Tony, the tennis coach, the AoC team and I are able to use the Ibirunga Tennis & Running Club to teach our Sports for Gorillas program during the school break. Resuming our staying healthy lessons with the group of 20 plus kids, we focus on basic oral health.

Just as the children in our weekday program, the sports kids receive toothbrushes and toothpaste and watch demonstrations and listen to discussions from my team mates. With the newly constructed toilet facilities, there is no need for us to haul jerry cans of drinking water and plastic water basins… we can use the sinks!

Sitting on grass mats at the tennis courts, children listen to the team and I talk about basic oral health.

THEN….. before we could move on to our next lesson… THE RAIN CAME POURING DOWN! As many children as could fit into our truck got the first ride home. Julie returned and took the rest of the happy kids home.

Stay tuned!!!

Snack Surprise

Hi readers. Valerie here again. As Olivier spoke about in the previous post, we teach our students that eating a healthy diet goes with all of our other efforts in staying healthy. The food we eat provides our body with the energy and nutrients it needs to keep working and growing. I add to the discussion by showing the children a pop-up book entitled “Human Body” by Weldon Owen Pty Ltd. The children have fun seeing an inside look at our digestive system. And while talking about our five senses, namely ‘taste’ to go with our healthy eating focus, they are impressed to know that there are more than 8,000 taste buds on top of their tongue which enables them to discern whether the food they eat is salty, bitter, sour, or sweet.

A pop-up book called Human Body adds a lot of fun for the kids in their learning. I talk about our digestion system as well as identifying the four main tastes.

As students return from recess, we ask them if they remembered to wash their hands. “Yes!” they reply. And we are like cool! We ask them if they feel hungry after all this talk about food. Again, “Yes!” We now tell them good news, “Everybody is going to receive a snack!”

Students go crazy when they receive their healthy snack.

As our children enjoy their snack, we ask them under what food group the bread and peanut butter fall. Many realize that their snacks belong in more than one food group because the brown bread is made with wheat which belongs to the grain group and peanut butter belongs under the oil group. They really love it and it shows!

These kids enjoy eating snacks!

Healthy Eating, Healthy Communities

Olivier here.
“Eeeh!” our students exclaim when asked if they eat three meals per day. With embarrassed giggling, they explain that their families struggle to find food for one meal per day. That ‘meal’ usually consists of limited variety. We are indeed sad for them that they face such challenges, but we inspire them to learn more. Today’s class is really full of wonders. We present the concept of food groups to the children; grains, vegetables, fruits, milk & dairy products, meat, and oils. And that by incorporating them into our daily diet as best as we can we will be eating a variety of foods and will be healthier.

Laminated food cards are distributed to the children who examine them and pass around to their friends.

“Vegetable, karoti, carrot.” Julienne says aloud while showing her food card to the rest of the class.

Once our students study the food cards, understand what food group it belongs to, and presents it to the rest of the class Innocent helps them stick it on our nutrition mat under the correct food group.

Next we jump to the art activity by reminding our students about a past activity of decorating envelopes with abstract design cut-outs. But for this activity we will cut out recognizable objects… more specifically, food! Tables and desks are divided into six groups representing the food groups. In the middle of each group on top of a drawing board is a still life of food. Children get busy with scissors, paper plates, markers, construction paper, and glitter paint.

Students have fun cutting out samples of food using construction paper.

Eric and Innocent help out the ‘meat, poultry, dried beans, fish and nuts’ group with their art activity.

Finally, kids come out with nice designs that they are proud of.

This child presents his ‘vegetable food group’ artwork after a fun and involved activity which was full of giggles, smiles, and laughter of happiness.

Our Health is Important for Gorilla Health

Hi, Valerie here with another lesson on staying healthy. Children listen as I read aloud, Wash your body, ears, and teeth every day. Our discussion covers a lot of information that our students really need. That is why we also bring a number of materials to help our students understand better. Some of the materials are what a student may find in their local health clinic! We remind them that we are teachers, not doctors, and our objective is to introduce to them some of the items found in their health clinic so they can feel comfortable in case they would get sick and have to go to a clinic. Gloves, masks, gauze, cleaning solutions for minor cuts, ointment for bugs bites and poison ivy, topical antibiotics, female sanitary products, and more. And guess what? We of course have a large tooth model for our children to see up close before we teach them how to properly brush their teeth!

Wash your body, ears, and teeth every day.  Valerie teaching.  Art of Conservation 2012After demonstrating how to properly brush my teeth, I remind our students to spit out the toothpaste after use instead of swallowing it! This is what our big red plastic basin is for today.

Nyange B, Class 6.  Valerie with students brushing their teeth.  Art of Conservation 2012Looking at themselves in mirrors, our students have fun brushing their teeth!

After each student takes turn brushing his/her teeth, we ask the children if they will stop brushing their teeth in case they run out of a toothpaste and toothbrush – oyaaa! – meaning – no – and gosh! Some of them already know how to use the leaves of a plant locally known as “umuhwahura” which is an alternative to the modern tools and easy to obtain! We discuss with them about more traditional alternatives like a twig of a tree sharpened on one end and chewed on the other to serve as both toothpick and toothbrush. As a result, we come up with an agreement that there is no reason at all of not brushing our teeth because we want to have good oral hygiene to stay healthy!

Rushubi B, Class 6, 27 February 2012.  Art of Conservation 2012With pleasure, each of our students goes home with a tube of toothpaste and a toothbrush.

More coming soon.

Keeping People and Gorillas Healthy

In our effort to help curb respiratory infections in local communities near Volcanoes National Park we teach our students daily hygiene practices to stop the spread of germs. Following the Germy Wormy exercise in which children have flour in their hands imitating as germs and then coughing and sneezing in the air and their hands, they begin touching and passing around every day objects. The flour shows clearly that germs are everywhere.

Valerie watches as Innocent and a student act out the passing of germs by handling every day objects such as a phone and by shaking hands.

STOP Spreading Germs.  Art of Conservation 2012A student imitates the spread of germs by putting every day objects such as a pencil near to her mouth which she received from someone who just coughed into their hands.

So how do we avoid spreading germs? Our rule number 1 on our Staying Healthy banner says cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze.

STOP spreading germs.  Art of Conservation 2012Covering his mouth when he coughs with the inside of his elbow, our students provides a wonderful example for the rest to see.

Spreading Germs…. it’s just so easy!

Sniffle, sneeze, sniffle, and on it goes with these familiar sounds inside the classroom. Coughing into the air occurs unabandonly and free! Germs are one of the fews things we advise the kids not to share. Yet it is just so easy! Respiratory disease is a serious threat to the mountain gorillas. Respiratory disease is widespread in the human populations surrounding Volcanoes National Park.

Stop spreading germs.  Staying Health lessons.  Art of Conservation 2012Coughing without covering her mouth, a student is about to spread germs everywhere!

With flour imitating as germs in the hands of our students, the classroom soon appears as if a dust storm hit as kids get just a little excited about the dramatization of germs spreading. But I think it helped get our point across.

Stop spreading germs.  Staying Health lessons.  Art of Conservation 2012Imagining flour in their hands are germs, children get an idea of germs spreading in the air and in their hands.

We then shake hands and touch objects leaving them contaminated. We go on touching our eyes, ears, nose, mouth allowing germs to enter our bodies. Germs stay alive on hands for up to three hours! 80% of infections are spread by hand.

Stop spreading germs.  Staying Health lessons.  Art of Conservation 2012No, this isn’t a photo from a bakery! It’s a classroom scene during our Germy Wormy exercise.

Stop spreading germs.  Staying Health lessons.  Art of Conservation 2012A student poses for a picture perfect example of a germ spreader.