Thursday, October 30, 2008

Nutrition work in Kampala

Reading over all my blog entries, I realized that there might be some confusion about whether or not I'm working while were here. I am. :) The two clinics that I somewhat randomly contacted before we left DC have been great places to volunteer. One is an HIV/AIDS organization started by a Catholic Church really close to Sarah and Dan's home. Its called Reach Out Mbuya. I've been working with Juliet, their nutritionist. I've helped her to design some nutrition classes for the staff and also help to assess malnourished children who need nutrition therapy (PlumpyNut). I spend 2 days per week at Reach Out

The other 3 days of the week I've been volunteering at Hope Clinic - a somewhat smaller clinic with a more broad target population (not just people living with HIV/AIDS). Lexi, a fellow American who is volunteering as the community outreach coordinator, has done a wonderful job coordinating nutrition classes for me to teach in the community. I've loved these classes. I'm still doing Tuesday afternoon "Train the Trainer" courses, but we've also been holding child health classes for parents, staff training at the clinic, and health talks with local salon workers. Below is a picture of me with one of the groups outside the house where we held the session.

One of the main nutrition messages that cuts across all of my work is the importance of diet diversity. Literature shows that the best way to decrease deficiencies is to diversify a population's diet. So I spend lots of time saying things like, "add some greens to your posho (thick maize porridge) and g-nut sauce (peanut sauce)...greens are not just for poor people!" When I first arrived in Uganda I thought most people simply could not afford healthy foods like greens, but I soon learned that many could buy them but don't because they are associated with living in extreme poverty. Of course this is anecdotal - I haven't taken any formal polls - but its interesting!

Last, some good news! I think I have finally nailed down my project for my final paper at GW. The title will be something like this: Improving nutritional care of orphans through sustainable farming in East Africa.

Happy Halloween! Nate and I are going to a costume party tomorrow night as The Green Goblin and Poison Ivy - 2 villains from early comic strips. Hopefully we'll have some fun pictures to share soon.


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