Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana

by Self-Help International
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Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Growing Healthy Food & Healthy Children in Ghana
Alimatu with her son
Alimatu with her son

The Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children program works with pregnant women and new mothers in Ghana, until their child is two years old in effort to combat malnutrition. Self-Help International staff focus on tracking the baby's growth and development and ensuring that both mom and baby are not only getting the nutrients they need now, but also that they understand how to continue to include foods in their diet that will provide them those nutrients moving forward. Nutrition officers also work closely with mothers to support them in exclusively breastfeeding their baby for the first six months after birth. This helps to ensure that the baby is getting the nutrients needed in those critical first few months of their life. Because of the demands on a mother’s time and other pressures from family or the community, it is often difficult for a mother to commit to that. Patience Obour, Nutrition Officer at Self-Help International, recently spoke with one of the clients in the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children program about her experience. Alimatu talks about how the nutrition officers supported her in this process.

“Alimatu Yakubu is my name and I’m a mother of 6 kids, five males and one female. I joined the program through a friend who was part of the program. My baby was three months old. I will say joining the program was a timely intervention since I was almost giving up on breastfeeding my son.

The nutrition team encouraged me to continue breastfeeding exclusively for six months because that is the best nutrition for my child. I told them I thought I wasn’t producing enough breast milk for the baby because he cries a lot. I was asked to demonstrate how I breastfeed the baby. From the demonstration, I was told I was not positioning and attaching the baby well enough for breastfeeding. I was shown how to breastfeed my child properly, and for the first time, my baby didn’t cry when he was breastfed.

I was advised on a four-star diet and was supplied with some supplements in the form of tom brown [a high protein porridge mixture common in the region] and eggs. The supplement really increased my breast milk production so I was able to breastfeed on demand. This really helped me to breastfeed my son till he was 6 months old despite the pressures from the community.”

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Adwoa and her healthy babe!
Adwoa and her healthy babe!

In Ghana, Self-Help International operates a maternal-child health program called Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) in two communities in the Ashanti Region. The program focuses on working with pregnant women and continues to partner with those women as their child grows and develops.

Self-Help staff provide counseling and education on accessing prenatal care, exclusively breastfeeding, and appropriate and accessible weaning strategies to ensure that children are getting needed nutrients. 

In the two partner communities, Beposo and Kukubuso, women most commonly learn about the program by word of mouth from active or graduated mothers.

Adwoa, a 28-year-old mother of three, came across a GHFGHC meeting when staff were discussing healthy eating during pregnancy.

“I knew I was at the right place at the right time because I had just found out I was pregnant,” Adwoa said. “I listened to the information offered at the meeting and made up my mind to be part of the group. I spoke to the nutrition officers about my interest in joining the program, and I was enrolled the next week.”

During Adwoa’s pregnancy, she was encouraged to regularly attend prenatal care appointments. 

“There were times I missed my appointments because of the distance from my home to the health center,” Adwoa said.

Adwoa found out she was anemic when she joined GHFGHC, and Self-Help’s nutrition officers advised her on iron rich foods that she could eat. The team also supplied her with a porridge made from quality protein maize (QPM) and some eggs.

“I was reluctant to eat eggs because of a myth about eating eggs during pregnancy,” Adwoa said. “It is believed that if a pregnant woman eats eggs, her child will not have hair on the head when he or she is born.”

“I spoke to Self-Help’s team about my concerns. I received counseling and support, and the staff encouraged me to eat eggs as a healthy source of protein and nutrients,” Adwoa added.

Adwoa heeded all of the advice that Self-Help’s team gave her, and she gave birth to a 7lb healthy baby with a head of hair.

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Munira and her healthy babe!
Munira and her healthy babe!

Munira, a mother of three children, joined Self-Help International’s Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program in Ghana when she was pregnant with her fourth child. Munira joined the program because of encouragement from a friend who was already enrolled.

Self-Help’s nutritionists in Ghana work with program participants to ensure they are receiving the nutrients they need while pregnant to ensure they stay healthy and can have a healthy birth for their child. Self-Help provides a high-protein porridge supplement to expecting mothers in case they are experiencing any challenges accessing food at home and demonstrates recipes for how they can use locally available foods to prepare healthy & nutritious meals at a low-cost.  

“Before I joined the program I was always told at the hospital during my prenatal care visits that I have a low hemoglobin, but I didn’t understand it’s implication on my baby,” Munira said. “I didn’t know it could lower my baby’s birth weight. All three of my other children had low birth weights as well.”

Self-Help’s nutrition team explained to Munira the implication of low hemoglobin levels on unborn babies and how Munira could use locally available foods to help increase her hemoglobin.

After going through the GHFGHC program, Munira said, “Being part of the program was a great opportunity for me. I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.”

“Due to Self-Help’s nutritional support and their guidance and services provided to me before labor, my fourth child was born at a healthy weight,” Munira added.

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Mariama and her granddaughter, Mariam
Mariama and her granddaughter, Mariam

Self-Help International facilitates a maternal-child nutrition program, “Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC),” in two communities in the Ashanti Region of Ghana - Beposo and Kukubuso. The program works with expecting and new mothers typically until their child is two years old. In cases where the mother is not able to care for the child or the child has special nutritional needs, Self-Help’s staff does their best to work specifically with those clients and achieve the best outcome for both guardian and child. Self-Help’s nutrition team sat down with one program partner, Mariama, to hear about her experience in the program with her infant granddaughter: 

‘’I can’t tell my story without thanking Self-Help. Have you ever been in a situation where you are trying your best but seem to be unable to improve your situation? That was the situation I was in before joining GHFGHC.

I was taking care of my granddaughter, Mariam, because her mom was sick and unable to care for my granddaughter. The only food I could afford for Mariam was corn porridge and sugar. Before someone in the community told me about the GHFGHC program in Kukubuso, this was all I fed her - from morning until evening. Although Mariam was almost one year old before I joined the program, she couldn’t crawl and she looked malnourished.

Self-Help’s nutrition team advised me on how to take good care of Mariam because she was malnourished. They explained to me how I could help Mariam catch up using a combination of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), a high fat and protein supplement for malnourished children); Self-Help’s high-protein porridge, and eggs. Self-Help’s team also taught me how to enrich Mariam’s food using locally available foods, such as orange-fleshed sweet potato or peanuts. 

I was amazed at the improvement in Mariam’s appearance just a few months after joining the program. Even though I live in a cottage outside of Kukubuso, Mariam’s improvement motivated me not to skip any of the program’s meeting days in the community. Mariam, who was having difficulty crawling when we joined GHFGHC, started walking just six months after joining the program. People who knew Mariam prior to joining the program couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the improvement in her health.”

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Akosua and her baby.
Akosua and her baby.

Patience Obour, Self-Help International’s Nutrition Program Officer and Nutrition Team Lead, sat down with Akosua in February 2021 to hear about her experience in the Growing Healthy Food, Growing Healthy Children (GHFGHC) program in Beposo, Ghana. The GHFGHC program works with new and expectant mothers on proper nutrition for themselves and their babies. 

“My name is Akosua, I am 16 years old, and I am a mother. I became pregnant in my final year of Junior High School.

When I realized I was pregnant, I knew I needed to go for prenatal care but I was afraid because of what I had heard from other teenage mothers in the community. The other mothers said that when they went for prenatal care, the nurses mistreated them because they were teenagers.

I decided to enroll in the GHFGHC program in Beposo because of what I had heard from other mothers about Self-Help’s nutrition team. I heard that they were doing marvelous work for both expectant and lactating mothers in the community. I also had the opportunity to hear Self-Help’s team educating another pregnant woman on what type of food to eat during pregnancy. 

I was a little reluctant to join the program because I am a teenager and I thought I was joining a program for grown-ups, but I decided to be bold and join.

During one of the program’s meeting days, I went to the team and told them that I was interested in joining the program. The team asked me about my prenatal record card, which I didn’t have. I told the team about my fears to attend a prenatal exam, and they explained to me the pros and cons of not attending getting checked.

I changed my mind and decided to attend my prenatal exam, and I am so glad I listened to Self-Help’s advice - I got to learn more about the health of my unborn baby, and I was treated so well by the nurses even though I am a teenager.

I am thankful for the Self-Help team and the nutritional supplement they provide (high-protein porridge and eggs). This supplement was lifesaving for me every morning before my baby was born, and it is now lifesaving for both my child and I. I know the supplement helped me give birth to a healthy baby.”

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Organization Information

Self-Help International

Location: Waverly, IA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @SelfHelpIntl
Project Leader:
Nora Tobin
Waverly, Iowa United States
$70,418 raised of $80,000 goal
 
1,043 donations
$9,582 to go
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