Our child nutrition programs have always had three basic pillars.
(1) The provision of nutritional supplements to children, to help prevent malnutrition and provide as a "safety net" in times of food insecurity.
(2) The provision of excellent medical care, to help identify and treat the diseases--both common and rare-- that contribution to child malnutrition.
(3) Education of caregivers and community leaders about child health and nutrition, to help provide communities with the tools they themselves need to be engaged in protecting the health of their children.
Of these three pillars, by far education is the most challenging. This may sound counter-intuitive at first. However, if you think about all the different barriers that exists to a good educational program--such as low rates of literacy, or the inherent resistance there always is to changing infant rearing practices (which are time-honored and passed down from generation to generation in every culture)--then it is becomes easier to understand why educational programs are numerous but quality educational programs (that produce real change at the community level) are few indeed.
With this mind, I'm happy to report that Wuqu' Kawoq has just finished up the initial stages of a massive program evaluation designed to improve our nutritional education programming. To accomplish this, we assembled a highly skilled team of community health workers, anthropologists, and nutritionists, who spend most of July and August conducting dozens of focus groups and hundreds of interviews with community leaders, parents, and other stakeholders in our communities.
This evaluation was wide-ranging, designed to help us understand better what parents think about the health of their children and the causes of malnutrition. It will also give us deeper inside into dietary diversity, breastfeeding and weaning practices, and competing nutritional messages from other groups (such as companies which market infant foods).
Right now our team is evaluating the immense amount of data that was collected during this evaluation. Within the next month or two, we will have a formal report from the team which will identify the areas where our current nutrition education programming might be deficient or not exactly in line with the needs of our communities and give us recommendations for improvement. We're very excited about this great opportunity we have to continue to improve our programs so that we can better serve the children of Guatemala!
As always, thanks so much for your continued support, and keep in touch! Feel free to drop me an email at any point at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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