Success Stories of the NNIC Community Connections Program

On this page we’d like to share with you some among many recent success stories from the NNIC Community Connections Program, involving visits from international Community Connection delegates to our area here, in Northern Nevada. We’ll also give you some background information about their accomplishments and achievements after their participation in the NNIC’s Community Connections Program.

Community HIV Project Supports Children in Orenburg Region

Ms. Alla Arkhipova

Following Ms. Alla Arkhipova’s return from a US exchange on community-based healthcare for at-risk populations, she was inspired to design a program that would prepare children of low-income, HIV-infected families for school.

Ms. Arkhipova, Director of the Gai City Administration’s Office for Social Support of Families and Children, developed the program to provide children and their parents the psychological, social and medical support they need to start school. The program also offers assistance in coping with the myriad challenges of living with HIV.

Born of Arkhipava’s experience during the Community Connections exchange, the one-year initiative, First Time First Grade, was first discussed at a meeting with the regional Social Protection Department, medical professionals and members of the Commission on Youth Issues and Protection of the Rights of Minors, who enthusiastically endorsed the project. First Time First Grade subsequently attracted partners from the Social Protection Department, the Children’s Hospital and the City Department of Education.

Alla Arkhipova believes her experiences in the US will enable her to continue helping children with HIV integrate into society.

Community Connections Program helps participant successfully expand his business

Mr. Gogi Gogitidze stands in front of his renovated hotel and the new summer bar he opened after his professional exchange.

Gogi Gogitidze, the owner of a small hotel in the seaside town of Kobuleti, has greatly increased the scope of his business thanks to his Community Connections exchange. Together with other tourism professionals from the Adjara region, Gogitidze spent three weeks in Reno, Nevada where he learned about best practices for tourism development from US experts. Topics such as modern service methods, facility development, and organizational management issues, combined with the opportunity to see his US colleagues’ achievements in tourism, gave him several ideas on how he could improve his hotel back in Georgia.

After completion of the program and return to Georgia, he understood that the best way to make money as an entrepreneur was to spend money.  He took out a large loan from a bank and began a massive overhaul of his hotel, including adding an additional floor and setting up a summer garden bar at the hotel and another bar on the beach in front of the building. The renovation increased the number of available rooms by 25%, and ensured that the design and comfort level was up to US standards.

However, Gogitidze realized that simply improving his hotel might not attract clients, so he proactively used some of the marketing techniques he saw in the US, including creating exclusive contracts with foreign tour agencies to promote his hotel. His understanding of tourism strategy ensured that his hotel was booked for the entire three month tourist season, and his profits increased by 30% from the year before. Gogitidze’s renovated hotel and new strategy received high marks in September when it was visited by Thomas Tait, an international tourism industry consultant that he met in the US.

Gogitidze states, “The Community Connections professional Program significantly helped me develop new tourism services in my city of Kobuleti and become a strong competitor to other seaside resorts. Not only has the experience helped me expand my business but has supported tourism development in the town as well.”

Orenburg Physicians Incorporate New Methods

Ms. Oxana Porshina

Ms. Oxana Porshina’s Community Connections exchange experience has greatly enhanced her work with commercial sex workers in Orenburg by demonstrating practical methods for supporting uninsured patients. As Director of the Primary Prevention Department at the Orenburg State Clinic for Skin and Venereal Diseases, Ms. Porshina incorporated elements of a program run by US hospitals and health centers into activities to prevent the spread of HIV and STDs among commercial sex workers.

In the summer of 2008, Ms. Porshina traveled to the US for training in community-based health and social services, where she met the Executive Director of the Access to Healthcare Network which provides medical services at a reduced cost to uninsured patients. Impressed by the network, Ms. Porshina determined to provide medical services at her clinic for thirty percent of the standard price– on condition of cash payment. To receive the same services free of charge, the clinic stipulates only that the patient submit legal documentation of identity, something that prior to the program many patients were reluctant to do. When the service was initially offered, held back by concern about privacy, few took advantage of the services, but now five or six patients a week seek help of the clinic’s physicians.

Ms. Porshina notes that the most valuable result of incorporating the new methods is that commercial sex workers have begun to take more responsibility for their health.  Doctor appointments ceased being one-time occurrences but rather included additional appointments and attempts to adhere to the medical worker’s prescriptions.