Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Friday, February 10, 2012

Linnea takes part in the first breast feeding and malnutrition outreach of the year

Today I traveled to Mwazaro with GVI volunteers Sofia and Josephat. It was about 15 minutes north of Shimoni by matatu, and SAFE Shimoni’s Kopa was present. We met SAFE Shimoni’s sister organization, Muungano Group and its Chairwoman, Madame Binny. The outreach was on Malnutrition and Breast-feeding: about 30 mothers of children 5 years and under were present so that their children could get weighed and measured. It was adorable; some children loved the attention as they were scrutinized by the community health workers against the measuring board – others, not so much. It was really exciting, though, that the volunteers got the chance to help take records – the names, heights, and weights of the children were meticulously taken on a couple small, old notebooks, later to be moved onto the well-kept massive log books that are maintained and managed by each outreach group.

Sofia and Kopa explain the basics of breast feeding to community members in Mwazaro
Before the outreach had started, Kopa, Josephat, Sofia and I all discussed the poster we had made. The poster was about the benefits of breast-feeding. I loved learning about these things; the reproductive health packet provided by SAFE Shimoni and the Shimoni Public Dispensary was so informative. I never knew that the recommended time to start breast-feeding was within half an hour of the baby’s birth, for example. The packets allowed us to present reliable information in a fun way: volunteers like Dana, who didn’t attend the outreach, got into drawing beautiful images of infants and children on the poster a day or two before the event.
At any rate, as Kopa looked over our poster, he said it would be more helpful if the poster’s information were written in Swahili. We all agreed that could’ve been a better method; unfortunately our poster was in English. Following a pause in the conversation, I jumped to my bag, pulled out a pen and paper, and got Kopa and Josephat to help us with translating the poster’s information into Swahili.
Linnea helps conduct measurements as part of the malnutrition outreach

Within about 10 minutes, we had written down the words to about 2/3rds of the poster and I stepped up to the plate when we all gathered around the women and their toddlers and spoke Swahili from my notebook after asking, “Habari Zenu?!” And they repeated, “Nzuri!”

With each brief pause in speaking, the women giggled and laughed about the situation: a mzungu reading Swahili off a notebook, understanding little of what she was actually saying. The women were extremely supportive, though, and kept patting me on the back afterwards. It was an amazing morning!

Linnea Lundberg,
Shimoni community field staff