This is just a really quick note to let you know about two things.
First, as I talked about in our last project report, data from some of our communities is in and very encouraging, showing 50% reductions in rates of malnutrition. To follow up on this, I wanted to let you know that we've just released the final report of our study of factors associated with malnutrition. We are using the data in this study to make small changes to our programs, especially in the area of parent education, in order to achieve even better results. If you are interested, you can read the entire report at this link here.
Furthermore, I wanted to let you know that Global Giving is having a Matching Funds Campaign on June 12. Because we are a "Superstar" ranked organization, this means that all donations to any of our projects on June 12 will be matched 50%! You can see the list of all of our current projects here. Pass the link on to your friends and colleagues!
Thanks as always for your amazing support and interest in our work.
I've spent the last few weeks in front of a computer looking at child growth data. It may sound boring, but actually it has been pretty exciting to have the time to do these interim analyses of our community nutrition programs.
These programs, as many of you who have supported our work over the years know, are comprehensive. They provide medical checkups to young children, in addition to regular treatment for parasites and anemia and the provision of nutritional supplements. Recently, in the last year or so, we've also been working hard to improve our educational support of parents as they learn how best to support their children in the first few critical years of life.
Our primary endpoint is trying to reduce rates of stunting, or chronic malnutrition, in young children. This is the primary form of malnutrition in rural Guatemala, which leads to lifelong disability through short stature and impaired intellectual development.
And the good news is that our programs are working. For example, in one set of community data that I was analyzing last week, the rates of severe stunting have decreased more than 50%. At the same time, the rates of children who are underweight have decreased more than 60%. These sorts of demonstrable improvements in child health give us hope for the future!
A central part of the community-based nutritional education that we are doing this year are classes on nutrition for women with young children. The idea is to provide women with up-to-date nutritional information, and to give them a forum to ask questions, clarify misconceptions, and support each other’s efforts to improve the health of their families.
WK core staff and I have spent much of the last three weeks meeting with community liaisons in the 8 communities in which we will be rolling out these classes. Because stunting (being very short for one’s age) affects as much as 100% of children in some of the communities that we are beginning to work with, many women are very excited to learn more about what they can do to help their children grow to their potential.
Last week, we inaugurated this limb of the nutrition education program with our first class in in one of our partner communities. Twenty-two women, from first-time mothers to seasoned grandmothers, laughed along as our staff led them through an explanation of how microbes cause disease, correct hand washing technique, the best way to store food without refrigeration, and low-cost methods to purify water.
Although there are many organizations in Guatemala that are working on nutrition, one unique aspect of our program is that whenever possible we use the first language of the community in our programming. The women in this community, for example, speak a mixture of Kaqchikel and K’iche. Our staff gave this class in Kaqchikel, and the women participated in either Kaqchikel or K’iche (or both!). Many women emphasized how much they appreciated being able to take part in a class where they could speak comfortably in their own language. Doing these classes in first languages meant that all women–not just the ones that felt the most comfortable speaking Spanish–were able to understand the materials and offer their own questions and ideas to the group.
We are looking forward to being able to bring these women classes in maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, complementary feeding, and nutrient deficiencies in the months to come!