Update from the Bocacosta

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posted by Anne Kraemer Díaz

There have been a lot of wonderful things happening in the Bocacosta over the last year. We are happy to report that the children in the community are doing better! We arrived to work in this village only a few short years ago, and already we are seeing great improvements in the nutrition of the children and the families. Thanks to Anita Chary and Sarah Messmer who worked so hard to get the Child Nutrition program running and their dedicated perseverance to transfer the project into the hands of our wonderful social workers and the community. Sarah and Anita left one year ago and the project is successfully running under our social workers, Mayra and Cata with great community support. Anita and Sarah continue to work hard from St. Louis and Boston to make sure the social workers and community members have all the support they need. Currently, our social workers visit the families each week to check on newborns, at risk children, talk to mothers with infants about solid food introduction, deliver the nutritional supplement, weigh and measure the children and more.

In late July, we had a town hall meeting with all of the families in the community to discuss the Child Nutrition project and listen to suggestions and feedback from the families. We explained some of the changes in our project, such as providing sprinkles. Sprinkles- provide iron and vitamins to children in the form of a powder that is easily added to food or drink. It is tasteless and a child needs one packet a day for two months. Sprinkles help to get rid of anemia as well as prevent it. Since many of the children in the community did not like iron drops we were using, we switched to sprinkles and found that many of the children and mothers really liked using sprinkles instead. The community meetings provide a great forum for discussion about our projects and how we can always improve.

We also trained Mayra and Cata on our new scale for weighing toddlers and reviewed anemia testing. Mayra and Cata will be able to do anemia testing for all of the children in 6 months to check the effectiveness of the Sprinkles. The evening training sessions with Mayra and Cata provided time for us to discuss problems, gossip, and positive changes in the community. Listening to Mayra and Cata, both who live in nearby, similar communities to where we have the Child Nutrition project, provides us with great insight on how to adjust our programs and initiatives to better serve the community. Following the community meeting we discussed the ideas and feedback in order to assess and evaluate our programs. Overall, we are excited about the growth and success of the program.