Growing stronger, growing together
Jeanne Uwamahoro, a 22-year-old graduate of GHI’s Health Center Program at Gasiza Health Center, was despondent when she learned from community health workers (CHWs) that her daughter showed signs of stunting and malnutrition last December.
“Of course I felt guilty to some extent, because they said that one of the causes of stunting in a child is the lack of essential nutrients that she should have received in the womb,” Jeanne explained as she watched her daughter, Raissa, play excitedly near their Gasiza home in Muhabura cell. “I was even hopeless thinking that there was no way to correct it, and I could not understand how the hospital could help.”
Still, Jeanne took the recommendation of the CHW who had measured her daughter and returned to Gasiza Health Center to enroll GHI’s three-month training program. It was a decision Jeanne says has absolutely improved her daughter’s health and growth trajectory.
“I am grateful to people who told me that my child does not have appropriate height,” Jeanne expressed. “Otherwise, I would have remained at home thinking that my child is normal.”
Raissa measured 24 inches in late December at the time she was evaluated by CHWs during GHI’s community child growth campaign; she grew to 29 inches by the time Jeanne graduated the Health Center Program in early April.
Before attending GHI trainings at Gasiza Health Center, Jeanne didn’t have a kitchen garden or include vegetables in her cooking.
“I didn’t know that a person can cook food in one hour and a balanced meal. I didn’t even know it exists. I didn’t know how to soak beans but now I do it and cook them in one hour,” said Jeanne. “After learning this I even started practicing it at home the exact same way we were taught in the trainings.”
Jeanne says the trainings on traditional medicine and cooking a balanced meal were her favorite sessions, and she looks forward to continue cultivating the garden established with the agricultural component of GHI’s Health Center Program. And her vision for her family’s future?
“It is helping my family live well through practicing what I learned,” Jeanne explained while her husband played lovingly with their daughter. “And cooking a balanced meal so that when my child reaches the age of going to school, she will be able to learn well, remember facts, and be the best.”
Story and photos by Maggie Andresen