Looking at a child who is malnourished is heart wrenching. With all the resources and wealth in our world, there is no justifiable reason why any child should be hungry. From the instant we arrived in Honduras, we began battling malnutrition.
Chronic malnutrition in the early years of a child’s life can complicate basic medical issues and irreversibly affect a child’s physical, mental, and behavioral development. Apart from the obvious horror and injustice of a starving child, malnutrition is a primary culprit in the creation and sustenance of endemic, cyclical, and generational poverty.
Our earliest response to malnutrition in the 1990s and 2000s was to conduct extensive field testing for anemia, a basic malnutrition marker, which confirmed high rates of nutritional deficiency, especially among young children. With that data we began a strategic response to overcoming malnutrition.
We began a school-based feeding program in 15 communities surrounding our Santa Lucia medical clinic. Food for the feeding program was purchased using Shoulder to Shoulder donations and distributed to community members. The communities constructed a kitchen and storage area. Parents worked together to prepare and serve meals. The program has become sustainable and Shoulder to Shoulder relinquished responsibilities to the communities.
We have worked, and continue to work at other sites to create feeding programs. At our bilingual school, a partnership between Shoulder to Shoulder, parents, and other non-profit nutritional programs provides a nutritious snack and a hot meal daily to the children. Many of our brigade partners and affiliates also organize and manage feeding programs within the communities they serve.
HENS HATCHING HOPE: UN HUEVO CADA DIA
In the Spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had the effect of shutting down StS’s micronutrient project in Honduras. We could not get the product into Honduras. Therefore, we started a new nutrition project to battle malnutrition in children 2 years of age and under.
Hens Hatching Hope is a WIN-WIN-WIN:
- The children receive needed nutrients through the daily eating of eggs.
- The women who raise the hens and eggs receive revenue from both StS and local customers.
- Revenue is kept in the communities because eggs are purchased locally.
The children of Southern Intibuca, a place of unforgiving poverty and scarce opportunity, are literally wasting away. Shoulder to Shoulder’s data reveal that almost 40% of children less than 5 years of age are stunted (this is a higher rate than Haiti). About half are anemic, 13% are underweight, and 3% are wasting. But the vacant, ghostlike expressions of desperate children tell the story better than statistics. These children need nutrients in order live a good life.
Eggs have been shown to be a cost-effective solution to fighting malnutrition in developing countries. But, the delivery of eggs is a challenge. Therefore, our project will find, and support, one woman in each community who has the desire to raise chickens and eggs. In Honduras, children 2 years of age and below are supposed to be brought to their local Health Center for a monthly weight/height check up. Mothers who come to these appointments will be given a ticket, to receive 30 free eggs.
How You Can Help
Every day, our doctors, nurses, and health promoters travel to individuals’ homes to provide health and nutrition education along with medical care. Poor access to well-balanced diets and lack of nutrition education lead to high salt and sugar intake. In turn, our communities have levels of hypertension and we are seeing increasing cases of diabetes.
Your contribution assists us in reaching our communities by truck, motorcycle, and by foot to provide necessary health and nutrition education and bring malnourished patients to our clinics for treatment.