Food for the Hungry totally changed the way Paula mothers.
Paula was just 19 years old when she had her first child, Tomas, and she was unprepared to mother him. She didn’t know how invaluable breast milk was for her baby or how household hygiene could affect his health. She was never taught or modeled basic things like playing with and stimulating her infant to help him grow.
Through Food for the Hungry health trainings, Paula has come to believe that children are a blessing to each mother. Over time, she and many other families in her community have begun to value the monthly growth and monitoring sessions that provide parents with critical information about their children’s development. Mothers especially have been equipped to know the best way to feed and stimulate their children during those critical years from infancy through age five. All this has improved the health and development of children in the community.
Paula, too, has discovered her natural gifting for leadership and teaching. For the past four years she has been training women in the community on children’s health. Some of the new skills and knowledge she’s acquired from FH include the importance of handwashing and essential mother and newborn care.
At first, it was difficult for Paula to accept this new role. She was criticized by her peers and told not to attend the trainings or join in other FH activities. Thankfully, Paula didn’t listen to the naysayers. Today, she no longer fears public speaking and doesn’t worry about what others say. She can see from the impact she’s having on children’s health that God has given her a talent well worth using.
According to Paula, FH has also deeply influenced her spiritual life. She used to think she could do everything on her own and didn’t need anyone’s help. In her relationships with FH staff and the lessons she’s learned through the health trainings, Paula came to believe that God is the centre of everything. Now when she has something intimidating to tackle, she prays and asks God for direction; she’s confident that he’s by her side and everything will be okay. For Paula, this has been a huge shift and has completely changed her approach to day-to-day life.
Even as she observes the positive changes taking place among mothers and the improved health of young children in the community, Paula still has big dreams for the future of Acul. She imagines a market being developed to provide a venue for families with kitchen gardens to sell their vegetables and for others to have access to this fresh produce without having to travel. A proper slaughterhouse for the cattle would reduce contamination and prevent illness in the community.
Laying an asphalt road would cut down on the dust blowing through homes and improve health, as well as provide easier transportation. Paula also longs to see more church members getting involved in development activities, and she’d like to be a Sunday school teacher.