Thoughts from FIMRC Ambassador Bridget McDugall.
…Come again another day…or not! As I sit in the volunteer house in the city of San Salvador, again confined because of heavy rains threatening the entirety of the Central American region, I have taken a strong interest in nutrition and what it means for the people of Las Delicias. It is a problem, no doubt, that not only affects women and children here, but those at other FIMRC sites across the globe. As part of my extended internship in El Salvador, I have now decided to try and tackle this problem, albeit in a small way.
While this project is still in the beginning phases, I have finally read enough information to squash three common myths associated with malnutrition.
Myth #1: Poor nutrition is a result of inadequate food intake. WRONG! Before I set foot on this foreign soil, I had seen the photos we all have seen of starving children in Africa, Haiti, etc. I would question why they didn’t have enough food to eat and ponder how governments and NGOs could relieve them of their plight through the widespread distribution of food products. I now know, however, that malnutrition is a complicated web of cause and effect – and lack of food is only one thread. A combination of poor maternal health, inappropriate infant care and feeding practices, and a lack of access to safe water and sanitation represent other concerns that are themselves embedded within the web.
Myth #2: Improved nutrition is a byproduct of other measures of poverty and reduction and economic advance. It is not possible to jump-start the process. Again…incorrect! Certainly, nutritional health is related to poverty. The poorer one is, the harder it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle including an appropriate diet. Nevertheless, it is possible to develop community programs to address nutritional health (i.e. the various threads that compose the web) in an impoverished community. One must be creative, and adapt measures to the resources available.
Which leads me to Myth #3: Broad-based actions are unfeasible in poor countries. Despite economic setbacks, many developing countries have made progress. While malnutrition is still a real problem, decreases have been observed since global nutrition was deemed a Millennium Development Goal at the turn of the century.
With this information, I plow forward with the goal of developing – or at least helping to develop before my time here is up – a nutrition program for the women and children of Las Delicias. There is much work to be done…researching, brainstorming, planning. But each day spells progress. Now, if only the rain would stop!
Bridget McDugall is a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and a valuable addition to FIMRC's Ambassador Program. Las Delicias is happy to have her here this fall! Thanks, Bridget :-).