I recently got back from being in Mozambique for a month to help with the current hunger crisis. The #FeedMozambique campaign was something that I started because of how I felt after hearing stories about the hunger crisis on phone calls back to Mozambique, but after seeing it with my own two eyes, I truly understand what the situation is like and how important this work is. I am grateful to everyone who contributed to the campaign in some way-- either through spreading the word, attending a event, or donating your own personal money to the cause. In the United States, we have the power to use our voice and our money to do whatever we want in the world. It touched my heart to know that so many of you used that power to help the people of Mozambique. Thank you.
With the money we raised, we chose to focus on one group of people: at-risk and malnourished babies. We lead a training of over 20 mothers who either had malnourished babies or who were HIV-positive and still nursing their babies past the recommended time period, putting their children at risk to contract HIV. The women of Kurandza taught these mothers about HIV prevention, nutrition, hygiene, and other health topics. It was inspiring to see the ladies lead this training on their own with little help from myself--I felt super proud to see them leading in this way.
We made the training as interactive as possible with fun ice-breakers to get to know the women better, and skits so that the women could show what they learned. We also awarded the women for participation with prizes such as toothpaste and soap. Each training day ended with a cooking demonstration of how to cook enriched porridge for their children.
Several of the mothers stood up to thank us for teaching them. They had never learned about nutrition or about HIV prevention, and most didn't even know that their babies could get HIV through nursing. One mother stood up and said that she remembered learning about this from me back when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She said that I had sat next to her on a minibus heading back from the district hospital to our village one day, and I had asked if she had already stopped nursing because the baby was old enough to eat regular food and avoid risk of HIV transmission. She stopped nursing thereafter and said that this baby was the only one that didn't die because of what I told her. When she stood up, I didn't remember her because I had talked to thousands and thousands of women. But she remembered me. I made a difference for this one woman and her baby. That showed me that even helping one person is worth it. Even though we weren't yet able to help everyone in the entire village, we still made a difference with these 25 women and their babies.
At the end of the training, we had 5 mothers volunteer to lead the nutrition program at the hospital. They will be leading these enriched porridge demonstrations, giving health presentations to the community, and visiting other mothers for support. We asked all the HIV- positive mother participants if they wanted to stop nursing. Almost all of them raised their hands. We were able to counsel each one of them and give them 3 months of baby food so that their babies could get a headstart on nutrition before eating the sporadically available food with the rest of their family. We also gave baby food to the mothers of malnourished children in hopes of them regaining strength and staying alive.
We distributed food aid and seeds to select families as a test to measure the impact, and will be monitoring the success of our programs to gauge what direction we will be going in next.
Thank you again for joining this cause and for helping a total of over 35 families. Your support is already making a difference in the lives of women and children in Mozambique.
If you'd like to get more involved in our cause, e-mail me (Elisabetta) at email@example.com.