So finally after months of preparation we have a functioning school garden! We have onions, lettuce and tomatoes. We bought the supplies at the end of September, but the fencing did not get put up until January, and shortly after that we put the plants in.
To make this project more sustainable I decided to do a TOT (Training of Trainers) about nutrition and food safety (hygiene, disease prevention etc).
I compiled a vast amount of material from The Man, The Myth, The Legend, Waga Rob. He spent over 4 years in BF as a health PCV and created so many useful resources using his mad artistic skills and I put his resources together into a manual.
The Nutrition TOT was not without its challenges. We were supposed to have it February 14th, and we had all of the women show up, and we had no one to translate. The 5 people I asked to come who could translate did not show up for one reason or another. We also had a huge fete in my village two days later for the Mayor’s swearing in, and many people were involved in those preparations and were unavailable to help out with the training.
It was 10:30 and there was no way I would be able to get through all the material in broken Moore, so I told the women to come back the next week. And on February 21, we had the training. Our CSPS (clinic) nurse, Marie-Claire was a fantastic facilitator and translator. I was so appreciative of her help. We started with a pre-test where the women were asked True/False questions and answered the questions by putting rocks in boxes labeled True/False. We then talked about the 3 main food groups, Protecteurs (Vitamins, fruits, and veggies,) Énergétiques, (Carbohydrates, sugars, oils), and Constructeurs (Proteins). We also talked about how they can include all of these in meals. Such as, To with baobab leaf sauce with ground up fish powder, or To with oseille sauce with crushed peanuts, or Riz sauce with meat/fish and veggies.
We then talked about how it is imperative to drink clean water (ideally from the pump) and that they can purify well water by pouring it through a clean pagne into a clean container and then adding bleach. They can also leave it in the sun.
We also emphasized that good hygiene (hand washing, washing dishes, having a clean cooking area) can prevent diseases and illness. We framed it in a really applicable way. We talked about how if someone is sick, then they can’t work, and that means that they lose money. For example, if a farmer gets a stomach bug, he can’t work in the fields, which can result in him losing money/time. That example got people’s attention.
We also talked about making enriched porridge (bouille) and sharing different recipes that can help babies gain weight and encourage families to eat healthy using local ingredients and not be dependent on handouts from the World Food Program.
We repeated the pre-test procedure for the post-test. The results will be analyzed later when I have enough time to do some computer work.
The afternoon session was an application session where we made bouille using peanut, millet, black eyed pea flour, sugar, and oil. Everyone pitched in to help build the fire and stir the bouille. The women loved the finished product and got to take some of it home. Ideally they will be able to train other women how to make their own bouille, and pool ingredients together to make the process even easier.
When projects work and are successful you feel amazing. I am so glad that everything came together and the women were so motivated to succeed.
As they say in the movie Galaxy Quest, “Never give up, never surrender.” Things might not work out the first time, but that’s no reason to throw in the towel.
According to our pre-test/post test 13/20 women received a higher score (I still want to run regressions and do other more complicated analysis, but I can always do that later.
A couple days after the training the women from the Kamsaghin Quartier came and told me about how their WHOLE QUARTIER made bouille! So exciting to see a project actually work and make some sort of impact.
Lining up for the pre teststirring the bouille4 year old Alimata eating bouilleSchool Garden!