Women’s health groups, through fortnightly cooking demonstrations and nutrition classes, have prevented further cases of child malnutrition in the village of Msonthe within just three years.
According to the most recent statistics from US AID, over 1 million children under 5 years old suffer from chronic malnutrition. That’s one in three young children experiencing problems that stop them growing and developing.
Malnutrition can result in weaker brain development, increased risk of diseases including diabetes and cancer, and can often result in death.
The classes that Women and Children First have been supporting help pregnant women and mothers to prepare nutritious meals for themselves and their families.
When the classes started 54 children in the Msonthe village suffered from malnutrition each year. Within three years this was reduced to no children struggling from malnutrition.
The classes, run by Joseph and his team from MaiKhanda, one of our partners, teach people about the importance of food storage, preparation and the six key food groups for a balanced, nutritious diet.
A typical meal prep will include:
· Carbohydrates, such as corn flour and bananas
· Leafy greens, including cabbage, pumpkin and mustard leaves
· Legumes, including soy beans and common beans
· Healthy fats, such as nut oils
· Fruits, such as apple, papaya and mangoes
· Sardines and meat, sourced from in and around Lake Malawi.
The classes encourage participants to use dark-green leafy greens in cooking, as they are high in vitamins and minerals which are essential for babies and children.
Men and women attending the classes also learn vital food preparation skills. This includes not overcooking vegetables – removing vital nutrients - and keeping all pots and pans thoroughly clean to avoid spreading diseases.
The groups also learn to blend delicious juice, using fruits which are rich in iron.
All the food grown, prepared, cooked and eaten is either grown in the group’s own community garden or is locally sourced.
The classes have eliminated child malnutrition in the Msonthe village, as well as helping the community grow it’s income. They’ve achieved this by encouraging the community to sell the produce from their vegetable garden to locals. This enables them to earn a long-term, sustainable living.
Pregnant women are also offered free vegetables from the garden.
Thanks to Women and Children First, our community health leaders, and supporters like you, child malnutrition in Msonthe may not have decreased so effectively.
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