In our work the knowledge practice gap can be HUGE. We all know that eliminating the gap completely is very difficult. So instead we work at taking one step at time to decrease the size of the gap. As I mentioned in an earlier entry I have been able to go to many of our CHE graduations. I have had the opportunity to see first hand how over the past year of training, our community health education program has tackled the "gap" by providing simple skills that can make a huge difference. For example...
Dish racks. Yep. A simple dish rack. You see, many rural Liberians wash their dishes, pot and pans and silverware and place it on the ground to dry. Not good. Putting clean dishes on the ground only for them to get contaminated with the germs and animals roaming around. Participants gain knowledge on how germs spread-but then they have to put that knowledge into practice. Our community development facilitators, who teach CHE, ask the participants to build a dish rack above the ground to prove that what they have learned has been understood and put into practice. Some do-some need encouragement! Ultimately, it is their decision to take the knowledge they have gained and put it into practice.
A beautiful site...
Another household example of the "gap"-can be found in our own little Kauffeldt household. Everyone in the house KNOWS that if the water jug has under 2 inches of water in it-they should fill it back up with water from the filter. Ahhh yes, so simple right? And yet this seems to difficult a task for people to understand -including...myself. So there our poor yellow, cracked water jug sits, and the water that is in it is never taken-because heaven forbid you be the one that finally empty it and have to fill it up. Thus, our "knowledge-practice gap". We know we should do it-we have been taught to fill.up.the.jug. But we don't put that knowledge into practice.
Count all those dish racks!
The "gap" in this village is getting smaller!
A common mistake by us in the developed world is to misunderstand those who don't wash their hands after they poo-poo or those who drink dirty water. "Why do they do that?" "Don't they know that drinking that water is bad for them?" Actually, they do know but they may not have an option or maybe they don't know because they never had access to education. They have never been told our taught that washing their hands is good for them. The ironic part is that in the western world we DO know what is good and bad for us, we HAVE unlimited access to education to learn and gain knowledge to help our health. And yet we still choose not to do these things-hmmm, so I ask you this, "who has the bigger knowledge - practice gap?"
To take it a step further let's look at some personal things... I know that I shouldn't do certain things-like get overly frustrated and angry at -well, let's pick taxis. I even tell my boys that mommy is trying to work on not loosing my temper and saying things I should not say. But then I am driving and one cuts me off -or randomly stops in front of me in the middle of the road, and off the handle I fly! Sigh...let's take it to running. I know I need to work harder on a work out to get better-to want to achieve a goal, like qualify for Boston, but I don't. The days leading to a big run I know I should drink more water to stay hydrated - but i don't, I drink more coffee or I don't drink at all. Gap (and i ain't talk'n the clothing store!).
Speaking at one of the CHE graduations on how to keep using the knowledge our participants have gained. (picture joni)
If you want a great example from the Bible look at Paul's ongoing struggle in Romans 7:15-20. Mercy-now there is a knowledge -practice gap! But much like the village with all the dish racks there is hope. Hope that when knowledge is attained, hearts are changes-the gap gets smaller. Little by little we make better decisions that not only help us but our families and communities. I leave you with this challenge: What areas of your life is there a knowledge - practice gap? The fact that you can think of one should tell us that we too can take small steps in shrinking it. Go ahead-build a dish rack...