Action African Help (AAH) Uganda provides nutrition services in four health centres for the refugees of Kyangwali settlement as well as the local community. Community outreach activities are carried out by a professional nutritionist with the support of two nutrition assistants, community health workers and mother groups. Services include nutritional education, supplementary and therapeutic feeding programs, home visiting, promotion of child feeding practices, food preparation demonstrations and growth monitoring.
Nyirabunanai Donata, a 38-year old Congolese refugee, joined a mother group after hearing about it during an outreach visit in her village.
“I joined the Malisho Bora (Good Nutrition) mother group in Kagoma village in 2010. The year before, one of my children had become malnourished and was put on the supplementary feeding program at Rwenyawawa health centre. But ever since I joined Malisho Bora group, malnutrition has become a thing of the past, not only in my home but in my neighbourhood.
“From the group I learned skills on infant feeding practices and now I can prepare nutritious meals and gruels for my infants. I also learnt some new skills in kitchen gardening and about its relevance in a home. AAH Uganda has been supporting us with vegetable seeds which I plant. Eating the vegetables we grow has helped to prevent disease in my family. The beetroot especially helps prevent anaemia.
“Together, the women in our group share our experience as mothers and through these group sessions and one-on-one discussions I have even sensitised other women in the village on issues like breastfeeding techniques, maintaining a balanced diet, and food preservation and preparation methods.
“Thanks to this group babies get the right food for a healthy start in life. Pregnant women value the support and wisdom of more experienced mothers. Husbands and other family members also benefit because a new mother who is well supported has greater confidence and copes better with the adjustments of motherhood.
“I thank AAH Uganda for the continuous support, specifically the knowledge and skills they have given to me and all the group members. I also call upon all women of child bearing age in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement to join Malisho Bora group and I urge the men to support us to alleviate malnutrition and other related illnesses in Kyangwali.”
As told to Lawrence Nyende, Nutritionist.