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!