Tuesday, April 7, 2015

World Health Day - "From farm to plate, make it safe"

April 7th is World Health Day and this year, the World Health Organization highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with food safety. In Haiti, where Partners of the Americas has their own Nutrition Security Program (NSP), agriculture has been the mainstay of the economy since the 1980s. Food security is all encompassing, and includes not just food safety but also food supply, quality of that food, and the access all individuals have to it. 

In honor of World Health Day, NSP has elected to highlight one of our many Mother
Cooking demonstration focused on nutrient
consumption and food safety
Leaders. Candidates for Mother Leaders are women who are pregnant and/or have children five years or younger that have been chosen by their community to undergo a year-long training. The 24 trainings focus on the value of both quantity and quality of the food being prepared in households. The trainings also encompass a number of other things including Vitamin A, breastfeeding, immunizations, hygiene and family planning. In addition to attending the trainings, the Mother Leaders are responsible for visiting women in their communities to share this information by way of culturally appropriate skits, cooking demonstrations, and simple conversations. Mother Leaders work together to empower the women in their communities and participate in various livelihood activities including community gardening, goat breeding stations, and small scale agriculture transformation products. 

Mother Leaders gathered for a Care Group meeting
While every Mother Leader has her own inspiring and amazing story to share, to honor World Health Day, NSP has chosen to share with you the story of Simone Fertile, a 39 year old from Western Haiti. Similar to a lot of women in her community, Simone is married, has 4 children, goes to church, and is involved in minor commercial activities. Prior to being presented with this opportunity, Simone was not involved in any social activity outside of her home and her church. Her husband strongly encouraged her to get involved once she expressed her interest. Supportively, he knew it would be good for her to get out of the house, learn something new, and become a positive role model in the community. After being involved in the project, Simone agrees that Mother Leaders bring a positive image to the community and that the work that they are doing is noble, valuable. 

A Mother Leader meeting a neighborhood woman
When asked about her success stories, Simone had two that came to mind. The first involved her neighbor who worked full time as a nurse in the local health clinic. After she learned of Simone’s status as a Mother Leader, she asked that Simone come over and explain a little bit more about the project and what she learned. The nurse, upon hearing all of this, was impressed and immediately requested that Simone work with her untrained nanny. Simone was able to train another woman in the community and was given a paid opportunity doing something that she felt passionate about. The nurse has never stopped expressing her gratitude. 

The 2nd success story Simone shares with us today is one of her interventions. Through her trainings she was able to identify malnutrition in children. She noticed that two of her neighbor’s children were showing extreme signs of malnutrition and recommended that they go to the health center to get a doctor’s recommendation. After the visit to the health center Simone took the necessary time to give her neighbor nutrition counseling. The neighbor followed her advice and the two children made full recoveries. 

Partners of the Americas is proud to be able to showcase what Simone and the rest of the NSP trained women continue to do in and with their communities. Their trainings and leadership experiences through this program are valuable to them as individuals, as mothers, as wives, and as members of their community. 

For more stories on what Partners of the Americas is doing in relation to food safety, check out these stories:

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