Wherever you live in the world, pregnancy and early childhood can be tough times for parents. For mothers in rural Sierra Leone, they are some of the most dangerous.
One of the biggest challenges new mums face is accessing a balanced and nutritious diet to give their babies and young children the best start in life. Knowing what to feed your child (or even yourself) can be difficult if you haven’t been given the knowledge and support you need. It can be even harder if you don’t have enough money to buy varied and nutritious foods.
According to the national nutrition survey (2017), in Sierra Leone over 30 per cent of children aged 6-59 months experience chronic malnutrition and over five per cent of pregnant and lactating women experience acute malnutrition.
Health Poverty Action is on a mission to support mums in rural Sierra Leone to take charge of their own health and that of their family through good nutrition. In addition to sharing knowledge to make informed decisions about nutrition, the ‘Happy Mums Happy Tums’ programme will support mums in learning about raising livestock, setting up community gardens to grow their own food, and by giving cooking demonstrations to parents in their villages. It will also support community health workers to raise awareness around health and nutrition, as well as provide equipment and supplies to health clinics to help them diagnose and treat malnourished families.
Asha has been a nurse at Kagbere health centre for five years.
She says, “The biggest problem we face is nutrition. Most children who come here are here with a feeding problem. Most times they have been given water and rice too young, or without a varied nutritional balance. Most of the parents who come here haven’t been taught what food to give their children.”
Binty is 17 years old, and has one child named Isatu, who is eight months old. They live in a rural area of Sierra Leone where Health Poverty Action have been working with the community for some time. Binty became worried when Isatu wasn’t putting on weight. “I started to notice my child was sick when she was only three months old. At that time I was just giving her rice. When I came with her to the hospital they told me the rice was making Isatu sick. The nurse told me I should not give her the rice because she was too young.” The nurse gave Binty nutritional supplements to take home, and instructed her to give them to Isatu twice a day. Over the course of several months, and many clinic visits, Isatu slowly got better. “If this service was not here I would worry for my child’s life… in the future I want her to be a lawyer or a doctor.”
With support from Health Poverty Action, nurses like Asha can teach parents about the importance of breastfeeding and the different nutritional foods they can give their children to help them grow.
This vital support will allow mothers like Binty to take their children’s health into their own hands.
Support over 6,000 women and children in rural Sierra Leone to improve their health and nutrition. Give to Health Poverty Action’s ‘Happy Mums, Happy Tums’ campaign before 31 December and the UK government will double all public donations!
On the 22nd October, Health Poverty Action are hosting Eat with Me, a foodie event to stand in solidarity with mothers and children in Sierra Leone. Hosted by well-known chefs, guests will be treated to special cooking demonstrations and an opportunity to taste new dishes, whilst meeting the chefs behind the inspiration. Chefs include: Dipna Anand, Yui Miles, Aida Khan, Ajay John and Nisha Patel.
Buy a ticket to Eat with Me on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/eat-with-me-tickets-70889200507