Lee's Summit North High School Alumni

Lee's Summit, Missouri (MO)

Alumni Stories

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Jennifer Pearson

Jennifer Pearson

Class of 1999

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Paraguay (2004-2006), Jennifer Pearson’s initial project consisted of administering a community wide health census to assess the needs of the community. Based on her findings, she developed and planned a health course and formed small groups of women to participate. She conducted informational meetings focusing on topics including nutrition, HIV/AIDS prevention education, parasite prevention, family planning, and prevention/treatment of common illnesses. As a part of the health course, Jennifer also focused on the introduction of new, healthier recipes utilizing soy to complement nutrition education.

Working with the local health center in Piribebuy, Jennifer organized three free pap-smear drives which included informational sessions by nurses and health educators focusing on self-breast exams, family planning methods, HIV/AIDS prevention, and cervical and ovarian cancer for the women of Presidente Franco.

Jennifer worked closely with the local grade school to improve the dental health practices of the students as well as providing parasite prevention education. Collaborating with the local health center, regional health officials, as well as an Asunción-based organization Urgencias sin Fronteras, Jennifer was able to request and receive anti-parasite treatment for each student to be administered every four months to supplement parasite prevention education. With the help of the Paraguayan Red Cross and the regional health center, she was also able to distribute toothbrushes and fluoride tablets to each student for daily tooth-brushing and weekly fluoride treatments. Jennifer successfully encouraged and enabled both the teachers and the school principal to actively participate in the dental well-being of their students and coordinated with the health center for the continuation of both the fluoride and anti-parasite treatments.

At the request of the grade school principal, Jennifer also coordinated an educational session with local nurses to provide information regarding HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections and birth control methods for the fifth and sixth grade students.

Due to the efforts of a previous Peace Corps volunteer, 50% of the households of Presidente Franco utilize a running water system. However, most families do not own sinks and maintain their water connections at a large distance from their homes leading to unsanitary drinking and washing conditions. Utilizing the small group structure and weekly meetings, Jennifer organized fundraising activities for the construction of 30 cement sinks. She also worked with the existing health and sanitation commission to obtain recognition from the local municipal government and authored funding requests for the construction of an additional ten cement sinks. To supplement the sink construction, Jennifer taught soap, powdered laundry soap, dishwashing detergent, and shampoo making to encourage improved sanitary practices.

Jennifer conducted all activities in Spanish and Guarani, the indigenous language of Paraguay. She currently resides in Washington, DC and works for CORE, a coalition of non-governmental organizations, a global leader in child and maternal health.

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