October 16, 2013
In Haiti, Reaching Teachers and Children to Help Animals
by Joellen Secondo
One of HSI's missions in Haiti—to raise awareness of the interdependence of human and animal health—received a boost recently with the introduction of a new teacher training initiative. On August 17, 2013, 200 local teachers came together for a workshop called “Protecting Our Tomorrows: A Teacher’s Role in Promoting Child Safety and Animal Welfare.”
The ripple effect
Since 2010, HSI has used vaccination/de-worming field clinics as opportunities to provide animal welfare education to schoolchildren and others. To magnify this outreach, HSI embarked on a program to “train the trainers.” A team from our affiliate, Humane Society University, worked closely with specialists in teaching development to create materials tailored for Haitians.
In August, armed with instruction manuals and lesson plans for the course, our team of local veterinarians, Drs. Rony, Wousvel, and Juliette, were prepared for their new role as teacher trainers.
For this venture, HSI partnered with Digicel Foundation Haiti, an organization aimed at improving the quality of education in Haiti by building schools (111 to date) and supporting instruction for teachers at those schools. Workshop participants received manuals and lesson plans to help them impart what they learned to their students.
Information helps with prevention
In each session, HSI veterinarians outlined a number of ways to promote healthier and safer interactions between children and animals. Participants learned how children can be instructed to act appropriately around animals such as dogs to reduce the risk of being bitten, scratched or chased. In addition, the teachers were provided with information on animal behavior, for example, how to read the warning signs of a dog who is potentially dangerous. Each group had time to ask questions and share their personal experiences. Rabies prevention was of particular concern.
Dr. Wousevel summed up his feelings: “It was a good opportunity for me to present veterinary medicine and animal welfare to an important part of society (teachers) who will subsequently share this knowledge with students to teach them to love and live more harmoniously with animals. This exchange will hopefully help prevent accidents between animals and children.”
A plan for expansion
Along with annual sessions for new teachers in the future, Digicel Foundation Haiti will organize follow-up meetings with HSI vets for those already trained. Currently, the curriculum focuses on dogs and other companion animals, but eventually, HSI hopes to expand it to include farm animals and working equines, which are of great importance in the island’s rural communities.