Improving Children’s Nutrition in Gambella

The 2nd training session of the Mothers’ Union Community Education and Development Program was held in December for 35 women representing 21 Mothers’ Union groups from Nuer, Anuak, Mabaan, Dinka and Opo tribes in Gambella. The theme was ‘Good Food makes Strong Bodies.’ Pictures, stories and discussions focused on how good nutrition helps us, and about the importance of eating food from the different food groups.

The pre-project survey showed the majority of children were given a diet consisting primarily of maize (corn). Statistics from the Village Medicine Conference held in Addis Ababa in 2012 showed that on average, in Ethiopia, children eat meat only once or twice a year. Serving food from a variety of food groups (if possible) at most if not all meals, is a good starting point for teaching on nutrition. On day two, the trainees presented the nutrition teaching to one another using story and picture sets.

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This was followed by a practical skills / income generation activity session on how to crochet mats using free materials such as recycled plastic bags from the market and material from torn clothing and rags. Although sets of extra large crochet hooks were given to each Mission Centre for demonstration purposes and to be shared with community members, participants were taught how to make home-made crochet hooks using twigs and a knife.

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Spiritual formation sessions provided opportunities to build upon the deepening friendships developing between participants from different tribal groups.

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After these training sessions at the Gambella Anglican Centre, the Mothers’ Union representatives return to train women in their local villages. Some of these training sessions exceeded expected numbers. For example, the Mothers Union in Pinyadu Refugee Camp held 4 separate training days on clean water with 125, 135, 109 and 123 participants respectively. Participant feedback included “we never realised that when a well person drinks from the same cup as a sick person, the well person could become sick” and “one woman has made a table on which to dry her dishes in the sun and now all her neighbours are using it.

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