The soldiers, assigned to Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa, split the class into two groups, one for women in their late 20s to early 40s and the other for women in their late teens to early 20s. The group discussions covered the same material, and each group was further divided into four classes.
Each week had a different focus. The schedule included discussions on general health and dental care, basic first aid, CPR, treatment of animal bites and stings, as well as good nutrition and prenatal care.
“We brought out a specialist for each discussion,” said U.S. Army Sergeant 1st Class John Quinn, a medic. The specialists were able to “answer questions and share best practices.”
Quinn said the women were receptive and it didn’t take long for them to open up and share their own stories.
One topic was general sanitation and how easily germs and bacteria can spread. The soldiers shared the idea of using water with bleach, which is obtainable in the region, to clean and sanitize surfaces. The women shared their own way as well: They typically use ash and water, and rinse with water again, which is just as effective.
The soldiers also discussed effective measures to take when treating different degrees of burns, what they look like, and how to relieve pain. They also shared how to splint fractures and treat sprains.
To involve the women, the soldiers did a lot of hands-on training. They used mannequins to ensure the women got a feel for performing the first aid techniques being taught.
Quinn said it was nice to see more than six months of planning and hard work by both the soldiers and Aicha Itho, the Dikhil’s Women’s Association president, pay off. He said he thought the class was a huge success.
“I think they liked that we were very receptive to hearing about how they do things,” Quinn said. “I think it was a huge mission success, because [some] of the women had come and told me personally, ‘I really liked what you did. What you showed me worked better than the way I was taught, because it’s much faster and easier to do.’”
Kadija Omar Arreh, one of the women who attended the program, said she was very pleased with the course and the material exchanged throughout. She said she learned a lot and she’ll take what she learned and share it with her family and others in her village.