The “Olla Nutricional”
One of the most common health problems in the villages where we work is malnutrition. Even villagers who have a job often simply lack the money to feed their large families (10-15 children is not considered uncommon). The problem is intensified by widespread parasites and tropical fevers as well as the lack of education and primary health care services in remote villages. In the remote community of Ceylan where malnutrition is particularly widespread, Vamos Adelante runs a permanent lunch kitchen, the “Olla Nutricional”, established in 2002.
The “Olla Nutricional” program provides basic healthy and balanced food items: Incaparina with milk, rice, pasta, beans, vegetables, fruit, etc. The program is held five days per week and serves a nutritious meal to ~150 children, adults and elderly people who are at highest risk of malnutrition. Over time, we have been able to lower the number of participants from the original several hundred. We have also increased this number during emergency situations such as the Volcano Fuego eruption in June 2018.
Our health care promotoras also visit lunch kitchen participants in their homes regularly to follow their progress. Our health care promotoras also work together with local nutritionist and offer treatment to the severely malnourished, including facilitating hospitalization for the most vulnerable infants. Most participants in this program have returned to a “normal” weight. Adults have re-gained enough strength to be able to work and student participants have shown signs of improved concentration in school.
Previously, we also ran school feeding programs in several other villages but the government now serves meals during the school months. Although this is not always regular, it has made a big difference for schoolchildren.
An example of our work on nutrition:
“Ana, 2, got sick often and lost so much weight that her health was in serious danger. She has 6 siblings, her father is disabled, and her mother could not afford treatment. As soon as we found out about Ana, our health promoter stepped in and together with a nutritionist were able to work out a plan for the little girl who luckily survived. She is still very skinny and a bad eater but at least she is in 4th grade (with a Vamos Adelante scholarship) and eats 3 meals a day. Ana has a Vamos Adelante godparent and receives a big bag of food every month in addition is attending the lunch program. We do frequent visit in her house to ensure that there is always enough food available.