Ramatou Nouhou is the nutrition educator for Samaritan’s Purse Niger.
Ilomi Yamba is a 30-year-old woman with a husband and five children. Sometimes, her family doesn’t have enough water to drink. At other times, the rain pours down so hard that it floods the fields and destroys their crops. Life is difficult in Gueisdoundou, Niger.
Samaritan’s Purse decided to help families like Ilomi’s by teaching farmers about nutrition and daily hygiene. The community is receptive, likely because there has been very little aid in the past.
We are conducting cooking demonstrations to show the women how to prepare complementary meals, such as enriched porridge, and other recipes for rich and balanced meals that can be made using garden produce. We also conduct training sessions on hygiene (body, clothes, food, cooking utensils, etc.). We use images for reinforcement during trainings and distribute soap to beneficiaries to encourage them to practice what is being taught.
“The project has improved our cooking practices,” Ilomia said. “We used to cook the vegetables for a very long time, destroying all of the nutritional value. We also now practice exclusive breastfeeding for the well-being of our children and know the importance of breast milk. We make sure to wash our hands.”
Also, we provide beneficiaries with gardening seeds in order to encourage dietary diversity. We teach the women how to use the garden produce and how to cook for a shorter time period to avoid the loss of nutrients and vitamins, and we encourage them to increase the daily consumption of vegetables in their families.
“Samaritan’s Purse is helping us learn how to properly conduct off-season gardening,” Ilomi said. “They are also teaching us how to save money as a group so that we can take loans to conduct animal fattening or other income generating activities so that we can have money to pay for medicine or buy food for our family.The project has 60 women beneficiaries in this village. They all conduct off-season gardening with Samaritan’s Purse agriculture supervisors and participate in nutrition activities with me. We have two nutrition education sessions per month in the village.
Our goal is to ignite a behavior change among the women and have them understand these essential family practices. By the grace of God, I have already started to see changes in the community. A woman who recently gave birth has begun breastfeeding. Also, changes in hygiene have become apparent among the women when they come for training.
We pray these changes continue as the women learn how to be healthy.