Today was a productive day…I finally feel a bit tired form our work, not just from the sun. I think my body is finally adjusting to the climate and food. We started by creating a set of questions for a door-to-door survey. The questions were to give us insight into some of the issues that UVP is interested in…nutrition, family planning, eye care, malaria, HIV and STI’s, and sanitation. As we were waiting for our team leaders to come back from their weekly meeting I started researching nutrition. I had downloaded some materials over the weekend and glanced through them. One of the resources was from the WHO and outlined 12 key practices that center around child growth and development. It was helpful to see what WHO emphasized as important health practices and potential interventions to encourage a change in behavior and care for children. They are all very basic, but in impoverished areas such as Namungalwe, practically impossible to carry out.
As we went around and surveyed 3 different households this afternoon I saw just how hard it would be for a family in Namungalwe to carry out these 12 practices. The first house we visited the woman we met was the sister of the mother of the household who had passed away 8 years ago. She moved in to help take care of the children…and there were a lot of them…at least 10, maybe 12, but some of them belonged to the older girls of the family. Children everywhere, some obviously stricken with diarrhea as evidenced by their solied underwear and malnourished as seen by the distended bellies. I was astonished when I heard that all they eat are starchy carbohydrates that they grow…corn, matooke, potatoes and posho. They didn’t mention any forms of significant protein and rarely do they eat vegetables. And with that many mouths to feed and lack of finances I don’t blame them. However, I was encouraged that most mothers exclusively breast feed up to 6 months and then continue for 2 years. Breast milk is such a good source of nutrients (the mother must be eating well) and helpful in developing immune response. I’m excited to talk more with the Nurse at the Health Center in charge of Nutrition to see what time of complementary feeding they promote and begin to develop interventions/outreaches to try to encourage some of the key practices.
It’s 8pm now…waiting for dinner, Nina just swallowed a bug while doing lunges outside, a bug just fell from the ceiling and landed on my head, the room smells of kerosene from the lamps, and I’m just waiting to hear the squeals of the bats as they start to hunt. I’m thankful for my time here and I hope our work continues to be insightful and productive.