The community centre was buzzing with activity last Saturday. We were excited to officially launch our health and nutrition program with the Foundation for Mother and Child Health. In addition, as part of our Youth Empowerment Program we are piloting a credit building program with partner InVenture which is aimed at helping our community members qualify for student and small business microfinance loans.
Saturday afternoon the school desks at the community centre were cleared away and replaced with weigh scales, measuring tools, and patient charts. FMCH staff saw almost 20 children over the next 3 hours, bringing us over a quarter of the way to our goal of 100 beneficiaries for the next 3 months. “It looks like we will have to raise our target,” Summer, Reality Gives Executive Director said. “And make sure that these children keep coming back,” responded Piya Mukherjee, FMCH Executive Director.
The health and nutrition program will track the progress of the children over time as parents come for individual counselling about their child’s diet. FMCH will also provide cooking demonstrations and will give talks on topics like how to feed fussy eaters, what mothers should know about breastfeeding and weaning children, etc. This is all aimed at increasing the knowledge of the mother so she can ensure her child is getting proper nutrition. “We have found that in many of our communities the problem with malnutrition isn’t so much a matter of access to food, but it is about having the knowledge about what foods are healthy for a child,” remarked Piya.
Earlier in the day InVenture met with our YEP students to talk with them about a new mobile system for tracking expenses that could help them qualify for loans. Many of our YEP students would like to continue on to vocational training programs or higher education after their course finishes, however the fees can be a big barrier. Some vocational training programs even facilitate earning a stipend that pays for the program, but paying the initial fee up front is not possible for some students. This is why programs like inVenture, which help students qualify for small student loans could be a big help.
Reality Gives is excited to see how these two pilots work to create change in our community and extend a warm welcome to both program partners.