The Good Start programme
It was fortuitous that around this time, Igidio found out that UNICEF was coming to work with the village to promote development. “To me, development meant cement – I thought they had come to build a road. Later I learned that nobody was going to bring cement to my village; instead they were going to help our children grow well.”
Soon after, the village welcomed a group of people from UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in their community centre, where the group presented a programme called Good Start.
“It changed the life of my community,” Igidio says. “First, we made a community registry. We recorded how many children there were, where they lived, how many pregnant women, how many newborns. That’s how our development started: getting to know ourselves, organizing ourselves.”
The UNICEF-supported talks with families in the community began by explaining the importance of prenatal check-ups, to make sure the mother is well nourished. “They told us that the best pieces of meat should be given to pregnant woman. Because in her belly there is a little creature who is also expecting food. No one had told us that before.”
Raising healthy babies
Antonia soon discovered she wasn’t getting enough nutrients during pregnancy. This, combined with the harshness of the field work, caused the twins to be born underweight.
“But in Good Start they advised us to breastfeed them. And very quickly, my sons got healthier. When they were 6 months old, we were taught that they needed five meals a day. My wife prepared the porridge: peas, corn, quinoa, barley… we toasted and grinded them before feeding the twins. And when they could chew, Antonia gave them cow lungs, chicken, guinea pig – ideal to prevent anemia.”
“Every month, the nurses from the closest health posts came to our community and talked to us parents. If one of us could not attend, the leader of the community would go to the house to find out why.”