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Action Against Hunger teams intervene to fight malnutrition through health and nutrition programs but also through psychological support to the people. The baby-friendly space aims to provide a clean and safe space for pregnant and lactating women, and for their young children under 2 years of age with the objective of prevention of malnutrition through different mental health and care practice intervention activities.
“We call the place the baby-friendly space, because here, mothers can take time to be and interact with their children. With the dire experience of war and their refugee status, it is difficult for them to have time connecting to their baby; they are busy insuring the survival of their household. During the day, they must fetch water, food, firewood, or medical support.”
During the mother-to-mother group support session, the psychosocial worker also provides information on the best child care practices, including guidance on hygiene, nutrition, and health to prevent children from getting sick or becoming malnourished. With a plastic doll, she shows the right position to breastfeed. The mothers participate in the massage and baby bath workshop as well as stress management sessions and awareness on the best child and mother care practices.
“We ask them about their practices and we work from what they tell us, explains Geta, we do not apply a top-bottom approach. There is a lot of knowledge based on cultural habits that are good for children. At the contrary, some practices have a damaging effect like giving water and salt to a sick child, or throwing away the colostrum because it is considered as “dirty”. The colostrum is the first milk, which is yellowish and thick, and it is rich in antibodies.”
In Gambella region, Action Against Hunger works both in the refugee’s camps and within the local Ethiopian communities to prevent and fight malnutrition. Our activities are supported by the European Union Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European Commission (ECHO), the Bureau of Populations, Refugees and Migrations (BPRM), Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
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