Nutrition Project: Weighing Sessions and Community Research

14 09 2012

The past two weeks have been filled with activities for my childhood nutrition project. After organizing the training for the project volunteers last month, the next steps included (a) weighing all the children under the age of five in the two target communities and (b) conducting community research to figure out what positive nutrition practices exist in the communities already.

In both villages, we found that less than half of the children were considered to be at a healthy weight. That’s the bad news. The good news is that only a few children in each community were severely underweight, leaving the majority to be either moderately underweight or in danger of falling underweight. Hopefully, this will make it easier for us to pull the kids into the healthy category. To help accelerate that process, we also provided vaccinations, Vitamin A droplets and de-worming medication so that all of the children would be better positioned to gain weight.

All of the children who are  not considered to have a healthy weight have now been invited to a series of sessions where we will provide a healthy variety of a local weaning porridge along with some basic nutrition education. The education provided won’t come from textbooks or the internet though. No, the information will come from the community itself. We want to share with the families what their neighbors are already doing to promote nutrition in their households, with the idea that if an average caretaker is already doing this, the others in the community should be able to do it too.

In order to find out these practices, we conducted surveys in each community. The project volunteers and I went to several homes in each village to learn about how the families are currently helping their children to be healthy. Many of the results to the survey are changes that caretakers can implement without spending any additional money: breastfeeding for the entire first two years after birth, rinsing rice only one time while cooking, washing your hands before cooking and after using the bathroom (lowering the chance of illness), helping young children eat. Others might not be possible for everyone, but are attainable for most: feeding young children four or more times a day, avoiding junk food, adding nutrient-dense foods to porridge, continuing to feed young children while they are sick.

Next week, these feeding/education sessions will begin in one of the villages. We will have ten sessions over the course of 14 days. It can be difficult for families with limited resources to help their children gain enough weight to move into the healthy category so we want to help them out with that. Then, by hopefully implementing some of these simple and low-cost practices we’ll share with them, they will be able to maintain their children at a healthy weight over time.

Let’s hope this works! (More pictures here.)





One response

14 09 2012

I really commend you for putting this group together; it will do nothing but help the children learn proper, and healthy, lifestyles :)

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