In May of 2019 two World Neighbours Canada directors visited Honduras to see the Maternal Child Health projects we are supporting with assistance from Global Affairs Canada. This is a report from a visit to the community of Caveles Uno.
For this particular project, Vecinos Honduras provided training for community members in two important roles, Monitors and Mother Guides. Monitors were trained in how to weigh and measure children under the age of five, and Mother Guides were trained in age appropriate developmental exercises for children under the age of five. These volunteers also received training in health education which they would share at monthly weighing sessions.
We sat with down 19 Mothers, 2 Monitors, and 5 Mother Guides, along with Vecinos Honduras’s regional staff to discuss their experiences with these sessions. There were also approximately 18 children present at the meeting as well. Volunteers enthusiastically shared their experiences in the program with us. One Monitor who joined 8 months ago shared how the weighing and stimulation sessions are critical to the community, and the support and
training the volunteers receive from VH helps them deliver a stronger program. Volunteers had different reasons for taking on the role. One Monitor shared that her motivation to join was the relationship with VH and her trust in the organization. Another Mother Guide shared that working with children is her calling and the role was a perfect fit.
“ We all remember our childhood and these kids will remember all of these moments in the sessions and the impact it has within their household for the rest of their lives. ”
The group ranged from first time mothers with newborns to mothers of many children. All mothers expressed that the sessions have been helpful to learn more skills and ensure their children are developmentally on track. One mother shared that she joined the sessions when her son was 4 months old and prior to the sessions did not know that he was underweight. With support from the Monitor and Mother Guide and guidance on local nutritious foods for the child, he gained adequate weight. Another mother with a 7 month old shared a similar experience. Many mothers of multiple children have noted a difference in the way their previous child were raised compared to those in the sessions; children in the sessions have learned to walk faster, talk earlier, mother is more aware of the food the child is fed, and children are less shy and timid. It was clear from our conversation with mothers that this space is extremely important for building community-wide connections and relationships among women. Many women shared that prior to these sessions, they would only greet others with a hello or bye, but now often have conversations that are much deeper.
The sessions have also impacted older children, especially the children of Mother Guides and Monitors. Volunteers expressed that their children sometimes read through their books and do some of the exercises, whereas some are interested to become Monitors and Mother Guides as well. Often, elder children accompany their mothers to sessions.
Mothers shared that their favourite activities to do with the children at home are singing (especially the periquito song that is sung in sessions), dancing, and one mother shared her daughter enjoys playing ‘boys games’ such as cars and balls and she encourages her and also plays along.