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“I spent a lot of time working with people at the regional level, and the national level, convincing them of the usefulness of community health workers, so that eventually they could be (and were) incorporated into the public service, and receive a salary.”By Dennis NicholsGuyana’s Ministry of Health mission statement reads in part “to improve the physical, social andSarah Gordonmental health status of all Guyanese . . .? through continuing education,Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic, training and management systems.”Such an expansive and worthwhile goal demands a strong, motivational cadre of workers led by an equally inspiring and dedicated administrator. Enter Dr. Sarah Gordon, former Director for Health Sciences Education, Ministry of Health, and this week’s ‘Special Person’.Dr. Gordon’s personality can be most aptly described as engagingly extroverted. She is a straight-shooting conversationalist who evidently has lived, and continues to live a fecund and fulfilling life. Meeting her for the first time at the Girl Guides Pavilion on Brickdam, I was immediately struck by her warm reception, along with an infectious chuckle and a readiness to share her experiences.She is truly a ‘people’ person,China NFL Jerseys, humble and approachable, despite having an impressive résumé that covers over 30 years of professional service in the areas of health education/ health promotion, programme planning for community health, curriculum development, materials development, and qualitative research on social issues.She was also the Chief Commissioner of the Guyana Girl Guides Association, and is a current member of Lions Clubs, International, two positions which obviously complement her vocation, her outgoing personality and her inclination to be socially proactive. She is also a world traveller. She is married to Keith Gordon, and her daughter, Yolande Sterling, is a food microbiologist residing in California. And there’s so much more.CHILDHOOD PERIODSarah Julia Crawford started her rise to prominence from unassuming beginnings.Dr. Gordon (fourth from left) with a group of health workers in the early ‘80sShe was born on April 2nd, 1948,Buy Shoes Nz, in Hadfield Street, Wortmanville, to parents Louis and Phyllis Crawford who were both educators. Her father died when she was just eight years old, at which time she was attending Smith Church School. She then moved on to The Bishops’ High School from which she graduated in 1965.Early in her life, Sarah got involved in a number of diverse activities apart from schooling. One was being a member of the Guyana Girl Guides Association and participating in camps in different parts of the country. But even before that, she had travelled extensively outside of Georgetown, with her parents’ deployments, or with her aunt and her husband, a dispenser. Among some of the places she visited as a child were Charity, Mabaruma, Corriverton and Kamarang.Encapsulating that childhood period, Sarah pronounces, “It was a fun time.” This was due in part to having her brother, Ivor, as a playmate, as well as three cousins who stayed with her family. She also lived with her mother’s sister who had a child of about the same age. She adds that there was great family bonding, strengthened under the firm, nurturing guidance of ‘Mother’Our ‘Special Person’ (far left) as part of the ICC 2007 World Cup volunteer teamDenbow, her grandmother, and matriarch of one of Guyana’s most prominent medical families.FIRST JOBS AND HIGHER EDUCATIONSarah’s first two jobs seemed to have little to do with what she eventually chose as her profession. First was a clerical job at the newly-established Bank of Guyana in 1966. Next, she worked briefly as a youth officer in the Office of the Prime Minister, assigned to the first Guyana Youth Corps batch at the old Tumatumari hydropower location in Region Seven.From thereon it was upward, and outward. She travelled to the United States of America and spent a year in New York, before relocating to Washington D.C. and enrolling at the historically black Howard University to study Psychology there, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in 1973.On her return to Guyana in September of that year,Tottenham Hotspur Shirt, armed with her BSc, she headed straight for the Ministry of Health and began working as a Health Education Officer. And back toAt a 1998 International Drug Conference in Lima, Perucommuting.“I spent a lot of time (again) travelling to various districts and working with nurses in the communities, giving instruction in health education to the health workers who were there; handling the education component of the programme, including preparing support materials,” she explained.Certainly not one to be content with a ‘mere’ Bachelor’s Degree, Sarah flew off again, this time to the University of New South Wales in Australia in 1977 to study for her Master’s degree in Health Personnel Education. This embraced both community education and health science education for the training of health workers.NEW VENTUREAfter returning to Guyana, Sarah started on a new venture – working with the Medex trainingIn a jovial mood at a Girl Guides confab in Canada (2006)programme in Liliendaal. This was an 18-month course that built upon the foundation of skills and knowledge of nurses who were being trained to become what are referred to as ‘barefoot’ doctors in some countries.This was followed by the training of community health workers, with the first batch receiving instruction at Aishalton, Rupununi, in 1979. She noted, “The community health workers at that time were volunteers, and the major thing was to have them trained. So I started out by putting together the programme to do this. We’d go to the communities and talk, sensitizing persons on a number of health issues”.Sarah added that the persons being trained had to understand that they were only volunteers and not paid workers. That however, came later, and she was one of the chief architects of the transition.“I spent a lot of time working with people at the regional level, and the national level, convincing them of the usefulness of community health workers, so that eventually they could beDuring a Tuberculosis Assessment Programme at Lethem(and were) incorporated into the public service, and receive a salary,” she asserted. She intimated that it was one of her most cherished achievements.Another was the part she played in the extension of services at the Liliendaal office, working with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Project Director, Dr. Claudette Harry, to combine the disciplines of pharmacy, laboratory and x-ray into a single entity, and train just one category of worker, called a multi-purpose technician, to handle the three functions. That extension was a major focus of the 1983 IDB project, executed in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.By then, Sarah had become the Curriculum Development Officer for the Guyana/IDB Project. Other promotions quickly followed. In 1984 she became Senior Health Education Officer with the Guyana Agency of Health Sciences Education, Environment and Food Policy (GAHEF) and in 1987 was appointed Health Manpower Development Officer at the same agency.However, her schedule still afforded her the opportunity to get away from the Liliendaal office and travel to several out-of-town coastal and hinterland areas. With the training of community health workers,Nike Air Max 90 Baratas Espa?a, locations had to be set up in places as far removed from each other as Lethem, Teperu, Mainstay, and Kumaka, Moruca. And wherever she had to go, she went.WEST AFRICAN EXPERIENCEBut although training and travelling around the country took up much of Sarah’s time and energy, they could not forestall her quest for a third degree. So it was in 1989 that she again left these shores, for Pennsylvania this time, to study for her doctorate in Public Health Education at the University of Pittsburgh.While in Pennsylvania, she went to the West African country of Burkina Faso in 1991 to research her dissertation after receiving a university fellowship for that purpose. She spent six months there, in the process of which she had to acclimatize and acculturate herself to the mores of the mostly French-speaking nation; something which she said was made easier because of its similar climate to Guyana, and the fact that she had done some French in high school.Her dissertation subject was titled ‘A Case Study of Health Education Interventions in a Developing Country: From Theory to Reality.’ This, she said, was related to the issue of child survival, a chief concern of funding agencies like the World Health Organization and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, which look at the effectiveness of such key interventions as oral rehydration therapy, immunization,Cheap MLB Gear, and nutrition as they relate to child health.BACK JUST IN TIMEShe returned to Pittsburgh just after Christmas, leaving sweltering 90-degree temperatures, and deplaned a few hours later in a city blanketed in snow. But less than a year later, upon completion of her doctorate, it was back home in the humid tropics, and back just in time for the November 1992 cholera outbreak in Region One.Sarah quickly got back into local teaching mode and headed for Mabaruma to educate residents there about the danger of the killer disease which she felt was not being taken seriously enough, especially when she noticed lapses in basic hygiene such as using the same cholera-contaminated water for a multiplicity of purposes.Back in Liliendaal, the health complex was in the process of expanding to accommodate the Health Education Unit, the Training Unit, and the Materials Development Unit. “My job, my first assignment when I got back there” Dr. Gordon disclosed, “was to pull all these departments together and incorporate them into one entity.”Next was a push to perpetuate the existing training regimens, ensuring that materials were always available, and to expand the community health workers outreach to previously un-served districts in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine, as well as certain riverine areas including the Upper Demerara, Berbice, Mahaicony, Mahaica, and Corentyne Rivers. She was then involved in the resuscitation of the Health Visitors and the Medex programmes which had been briefly interrupted.INTEGRAL PARTSarah also played an integral part in the establishment of the medical programme at the University of Guyana Medical School in 1985. This undertaking, along with dedication to task, led to her appointment as Director, Health Sciences Education in the Ministry of Health, a position which she held until her retirement in 2005.Her expertise has led her, over the years, to participate in several other health education training programmes, as well as engage in numerous presentations, publications, workshops, conferences, and consultancies throughout the Caribbean and in several countries in Africa, Europe and Central America.She is a member of, or has held membership in, a number of local and international health agencies including Guyana’s National Malaria Committee, the Caribbean Task Force on HIV/AIDS, the Global Fund against HIV, TB and Malaria, and the CARICOM Multi-Agency Project for Health and Family Life Education.SOCIAL SERVICEWith respect to her involvement in the Girl Guides movement, Sarah declared that it had been a lifelong association, one which was rekindled in 2003 when she became a full-time volunteer and Chief Commissioner of the group.This entailed working with mostly leaders in the organization in an effort to bring back the kind of strength it once displayed, and to extend its reach to outlying areas. She affirmed that it’s something she feels strongly about,Cheap Nike NFL Jerseys, after discerning a need for such an intervention among young women in hinterland areas during her earlier community health training days.Having served six years in that capacity, she is now the Deputy Chief Commissioner, working voluntarily as the organization’s administrator and office manager as well as being commissioner in charge of the training of guides and guide leaders.In another arena of social service, Sarah is a member of the Lions Clubs International, which she joined in 1993. She served as president of the Durban Park Lions Club, Zone Chairperson, (in charge of one Zone) and Region Chairperson. (In charge of the three zones that constitute Lions Clubs Guyana). She states that she is ‘fairly deeply’ involved in club activities.Sarah is currently working on a club project which is centred on the training of schoolchildren in life skills education. A related undertaking is an environmental project whereby the club works with schools and communities to improve the aesthetics of their surroundings. She is also part of efforts to enhance the membership and general functioning of the clubs.And what about the future?? Sarah laughingly divulged that her ‘bucket list’ is almost accomplished. “Now, I’m just doing, just being there, to see how I can help, who I can help, when I can help. You know, because I’ve had so much help, even though I’m retired, my main thing is to help people so that everybody will experience at least some of what I had.” she concluded.Many of her activities and achievements in health education and social work have been excluded from this article because of space limitation. But from what has been written it is obvious that Dr. Sarah Gordon’s life work has been of tremendous benefit and significance, not only to Guyana, but regionally; even globally. Her legacy is intact, and her ‘special person’ designation is more than deserved.
 
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