This past Thursday, Yoli (our community education specialist) and I had the pleasure of graduating our first class of women from our nutrition education program. These seven amazing ladies from Paquip have met with us for 2 hours every week for the past month, discussing topics such as what foods are important to eat during pregnancy, how to get babies the most nutrients possible when breastfeeding, and how to prepare nutritious foods for infants.
On Thursday, we asked the women to prove their mettle by teaching back to us what they had learned. The women astounded us.
In a community in which feeding thin liquids to infants is the norm, these ladies insisted that kids under two be fed thick mashes of vegetables, beans, grains, or eggs. They knew that babies need to breastfeed for at least 10 minutes per breast to get all the nutrients from mom’s milk. They also knew that babies under 6 months shouldn’t eat anything but mom’s milk, because other foods and liquids could carry microbes that would make them sick. And they understood that good nutrition in pregnancy needs to start from the moment mom thinks she might be pregnant–because baby is already developing.
This type of knowledge shift is vitally important in a community in which 80% of children under 5 are malnourished. It was heartening to hear the women reflect that the changes in behavior that they learned in class were changes that they were capable of making.
Hats off to this impressive group of women. We are looking forward to following up with them as they measure the growth of their children in the coming months.