If we win the $1000 grant from the IWHC Young Visionaries contest, we will establish a non-profit organization that facilitates malnutrition prevention programs for pregnant and lactating mothers in Managua, Nicaragua. We plan to provide access to Supplementary Plumpy, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF), to empower mothers to give their future children healthy starts to life. The project will entail training health promoters to operate the program; obtaining and distributing Supplementary Plumpy, providing consult on its usage for the women; and coordinating with local clinics and/or Nicaraguan-run non-profit organizations to provide prenatal care and monitor the expecting mothers’ health throughout pregnancy and through six months of breastfeeding.
Our program will strive to prevent childhood malnutrition through primary interventions, while simultaneously ensuring maternal health. The program will help Nicaraguan women maintain their own health during and after pregnancy through health education, nutritional supplementation, and medical support. In addition, we will provide access to rapid HIV tests to all expecting mothers upon entering the program. We believe that the most powerful tool that young women have to combat the systemic inequalities that they face daily is knowledge. With medical support and health education, young women who are aware of their HIV status and connected with resources can make informed decisions regarding their own health and the health of their growing families.
Our project connects resources from the “Global North” to the “Global South”–we will serve as the link between a Rhode Island-based non-profit company that produces Supplementary Plumpy and the organizations that serve women and children in Nicaragua. Supplementary Plumpy has been used in many parts of Africa and Asia to alleviate malnutrition in children and pregnant mothers. We seek to introduce this RUTF to communities that have been overlooked not only by their governments, but also by international aid organizations, as most of the malnutrition alleviation efforts involving RUTF have been concentrated in other world regions. Our project addresses the needs of women in both rural and urban communities in Nicaragua and connects them to one of the most effective RUTF products available today.
In addition, by involving young Nicaraguans as community health promoters, the project will build a future generation of young community leaders that will fight for the health of women and children in Nicaragua. It is in this way that citizens, the ones who are truly capable of enacting social change, are empowered to speak up for themselves and those that are most vulnerable. We believe that connecting Nicaraguans to one another will forge strong alliances as we collaborate to provide young women with the information and medical resources that they need for a healthy present and future.
In short, we have three target groups of young women whom this project addresses: expecting mothers, community health workers, and infants who will be the next generation of young people. This grant will jump start a project that we see expanding across Nicaragua and beyond to help women guarantee the health of their own bodies, pregnancies, births, babies, and families.