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close this bookAnimation Skills (Peace Corps)
close this folderFishbowl
View the documentCommunication skills
View the documentFishbowl activity
View the documentVariations on the fishbowl
View the documentRole plays/drama
View the documentIn the neighborhood....

In the neighborhood....



You are coming home from a day in the fields with your wife and you are very pleased with the growth and quality of your crops. You are especially grateful because before this year you had guinea worm and were barely able to work during the important planting season. Your entire family suffered because there was very little to eat and no money to buy medicine or clothes or even to send the children to school. Although you used to believe that guinea worm was a natural part of the body that came out when it smelled other guinea worms, you are now convinced that the health workers were right when they explained that guinea worm comes from drinking water that is contaminated with worm larvae. Since last year you have been very careful to drink only water that is filtered first. Your wife and children always filter the pond water into the drinking jar at home and you always take a plastic jug of filtered water with you to the fields. This year no one in the family has guinea worm, so you are convinced and determined to continue to filter your water.

On your way home, you pass the house of a neighbor that is suffering several guinea worms at the same time. His young son, too, is lying on a mat in front of the house, unable to walk, unable to help his family in the fields, and unable to go to school. You try to explain to them what made the difference for you.


You are coming home from a day in the fields with your husband. You have a basket of early potatoes that you just harvested from your field. For the first time in three years no one in your family has guinea worm. You continue to filter water at home and drink only filtered water in the fields, but you are concerned with the continual contamination of the pond by others who still have guinea worm and visit the pond for bathing, doing laundry, or for gathering drinking water.

As you walk past the house of neighbors who are suffering guinea worm, you stop to talk with them about why they still have the disease and why you don't want them to go near the pond water. You insist that they try to stay away from the pond and that you will send your eldest son to help them bring buckets of water for bathing. Before leaving, you give them some of your potatoes and assure them that if they filter their drinking water and stay away from the pond, they will be able to have a healthy crop again next year.


You have several guinea worms coming out of your feet and legs and you are weak from not eating well and not being able to sleep. Your son is also sick with guinea worm on a mat next to you. You have an older daughter who went to the market in the next village to sell her embroidery work so that she could buy food for the family to eat. Your neighbors are walking by after a day of work in their fields and you are reminded of what you do not have and will not have because you cannot work your fields at this time. You believe that the guinea worm in your family is the result of an angry local god who saw how badly you treated your wife last year. She has gone away to live with her family in another village. You resent the advice of your neighbors who are doing well and who believe that you can prevent guinea worm through your own behavior. You are treating your guinea worm sores with a mud pack mixed with plant leaves recommended by a local traditional healer. A few of your sores are inflamed and infected.

While you are talking with your neighbors, the local Peace Corps Volunteer arrives to treat your sores. After some discussion that makes you angry, you refuse to let him treat you and you announce that he understands nothing about what really happens in the village. As you struggle to get up, you tell everyone that you are going to the pond to wash and bring some relief to your painful sores.


You have guinea worm on one of your feet and you cannot walk without a staff to help you. You have missed weeks of school and will not be able to pass your exams next month. You remember a teacher last year who explained that guinea worm was waterborne disease and that everyone should filter their drinking water and be sure not to walk into the pond with a guinea worm sore. You didn't pay much attention because you thought guinea worm disease was hereditary and you wouldn't get it. Besides, your mother and sister were responsible for getting water to the house.

There was much trouble at home last year between your parents, and you were not sure if the water in the jar was filtered or not. You now wish you had filtered it yourself to make sure. You have tried to explain to your father, who is also sick with guinea worm, that he should not go into the pond with his sores because the water will be unsafe for them to drink and they may get the guinea worm again. But your father will not listen. He believes that guinea worm is caused by witchcraft or angry gods and he gets angry when you tell him you don't believe that. You refuse to use the traditional mud pack to treat your guinea worm sore as your father does.


You have some public health training and you know about guinea worm life cycle and how to prevent it. You have recently suggested that the village committee assign someone to guard the local water source to prevent anyone with guinea worm from entering and recontaminating the pond. You have spoken to many of the village women about filtering drinking water and asked them to teach their sons and husbands to filter as well. You have invited everyone to attend a filtering demonstration after the mass on Sunday.

You arrive at the home of someone with several guinea worm sores. There are neighbors present discussing how the family contracted guinea worm and what they should do about it. You greet everyone and join the conversation trying to confirm what the others are saying. You offer to assist the man with guinea worm to wash his sores and apply antiseptic, but he has become angry with the conversation and refuses your help.