Mothers with a Vision in Kapeitum, Kenya
Editor's Note: This post comes to us from Betty Cheyech, Nutrition Officer for Action Against Hunger in West Pokot, Kenya. Our thanks to Betty, and to 1,000 Days, a consortium of NGOs dedicated to maximizing a child's critical nutrition window from conception to the 2nd birthday and one of which we're proud to be a part. 1,000 Days will feature this post as part of its special March for Nutrition campaign, taking place this month.
For mothers in Kosulol, located in the southern part of West Pokot County in Kenya, life had been all about childbearing and taking care of their husbands.
A new phase in their lives started in November 2012, following a visit to Chepareria Sub-district Hospital by Action Against Hunger staff. After attending sensitisation sessions, the women joined a Mother-to-Mother Support Group (MTMSG), initiated and supported by our staff and the Ministry of Health.
With a total of 25 mothers (five pregnant and 20 nursing), the Kapeitum MTMSG was formed the very same month. A little more than a year later, it is one of the most active groups among 155 mothers’ groups in West Pokot County.
The mothers used to meet once a month at a health center for trainings facilitated by health workers, before relocating to the village where they now hold meetings once a week in a member’s house.
March 2013 was a turning point for Kapeitum mothers, as they initiated income-generating activities such as poultry keeping and vegetable farming. They planted cabbages in half-acre land plots and have 300 chickens. With the 60,000 Kenya shillings the Kapeitum MTMSG has in its bank account, the mothers are working with the Ministry of Agriculture to build a greenhouse which would help them diversify production of tomatoes, capsicum and other horticultural crops.
In addition, the group has composed songs advocating for good maternal, infant, and young child nutrition. During World Breastfeeding Week last year, they presented a song at Chepkopech trading center, where the event was held.
An official from the Pokot South District Health Management Team, Thomas Chikichik, recently praised the group:
“I encourage more mothers to join the mother support groups and follow the footsteps of Kapeitum group. They will learn more on infant and young child nutrition and become role models in the community.”
A husband to a member of the group members, Amos Loyatum, says: “When my wife first joined the group, I thought it was a waste of time since she used to attend trainings twice every week. I disputed it bitterly and often quarrelled her whenever she returned home from the meetings. Months later, I noticed a lot of changes in our son, who is now seven months old. We rarely take him to the hospital for treatment, except for immunizations. This is when I learned the benefits of the mothers’ group. I admire their income-generating activities. We should also be supported to form fathers’ groups that will work hand in hand with mothers, and benefit.”