Jianming, a shy 16-year-old, aspired to become a Health Advocate within his village of Tuanjie. Jianming is from a Miao minority family and lives with his parents, both farmers, and his younger sister who also aspires to be a Health Advocate. Typical of subsistence farmers, it is necessary for Jianming to work alongside his parents while balancing his educational obligations. Daily life is not easy for his family and others in the village, but they understand the hope of improved health.
The process of becoming a Health Advocate involves interviews and subsequent trainings. In March 2018, Jianming participated in his first advocate selection screening. On that day, his anxiety got the better of him. Jianming showed up late to the screening, lacked confidence, and was introverted during the whole process. Although the teen did not perform to his highest potential, he was nonetheless selected to be a Health Advocate. His level of education and personal potential stood out in spite of his nervousness.
Health trainings were held in July and November 2018. Advocates are taught fundamentals of good hygiene, importance of hand washing, disease prevention, wound care, and proper food preparation. Although he had many other responsibilities such as school and his chores on the farm, Jianming completed both of the two full-day trainings. Jianming’s performance was in sharp contrast to his first interview. He was able to express himself clearly and confidently; his social and communication skills had improved significantly.
Upon completion of the health training, Jianming began leading health trainings for his fellow villagers. He has developed a strong sense of responsibility and is very effective when instructing others. CWEF Health Programs Director Jenny Chu shares, “Jianming is looked up to by his peers and has earned respect within his community. He takes his role very seriously and is passionate about helping others. Although his family needs his help on the farm, they see the good he is doing and his potential and allow him to continue his work as Health Advocate. He has become a competent and confident young man who plays an important role in the health promotion in Tuanjie.”