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3-Day Volunteer West Africa Community Health Programme
3-Day Volunteer West Africa Community Health Programme
3-Day Volunteer West Africa Community Health Programme
3-Day Volunteer West Africa Community Health Programme

3-Day Volunteer West Africa Community Health Programme

Date Posted: 15/04/2014
Whilst volunteering for VWA I have been involved in the planning and delivery of a 3 day event based on the importance of a balanced diet as well as the importance of hygiene and oral health for school children and their families.     
Whilst volunteering for VWA I have been involved in the planning and delivery of a 3 day event based on the importance of a balanced diet as well as the importance of hygiene and oral health for school children and their families.     

As the main problems for the majority of the families is having limited money they will often select foods that will fill themselves and their children as apposed to the most nutritional beneficial foods. Therefore they would often eat starchy foods on there own or with a basic soup or stew, often leaving out protein and calcium consumption which are both vital nutrients needed for the growth and development for children. The workshops taught the children and their families the importance of having a balanced diet as well as giving them examples of how they can achieve a balanced diet whilst having limited funds. Therefore it should encourage them to improve their diets and make sure that they do not miss out eating major food groups needed by the body.  

The event was purposefully split over the three days so the younger children and older children at the school as well as the families could all be given information regarding a balanced that was relevant to their age and understanding. The main delivery of the workshops was given by a Ghana Health Board nurse called Diana who comes from Opeikuma village. She was excellent at engaging the children ensuring that they were listening and taking in all the information that was being provided by myself and the VWA team. The younger children really seemed to enjoy the session and more importantly grasped the information that was so vital to their nutritional status. The second day was used to talk to the families in the local community, this session also involved a practical demonstration of cooking Banku with pepper sauce and Akple and Okro soup. The use of the practical demonstration really helped to show the community that cooking nutritious meals can be tasty; reasonably priced and most importantly will ensure that they are consuming a balanced diet. The demonstration was also used to show how to be as hygienic as possible whilst preparing and cooking food to avoid the spreading of bacteria and diseases as well as food contamination ad poisoning. The third day was the delivery of the workshop to the older children at Opeikuma School. A lot of the eldest children already had a good understanding of the information being given, which was pleasing; however it did not stop them asking as many questions as possible to make sure they had the best understanding before the team had finished!

The main highlights of the nutritional workshop for me were interacting with the children. Seeing their eagerness and enthusiasm to learn and taking the information that was given. I also enjoyed applying the balanced diet to the local Ghanaian foods and dishes, it really helped me to understand exactly what is eaten, the nutritional value of the foods and how it can be improved. During day 2 it was nice to see a high turn-out of mainly mothers from the local community. I also really enjoyed cooking with the women for the local community, they were extremely friendly and appreciative to VWA for running the sessions. Working alongside the VWA team members was also a pleasure.

As the planning and delivery of the workshop was so different from doing it in the UK, it did mean that some challenges and difficulties were apparent.  Although I enjoyed applying the information to the local ingredients and dishes it was hard at first to adjust to such unfamiliar foods. However the help of the VWA team members eased the task. Another difficulty was not being able to speak the local languages, which meant that I could not understand the delivery of the workshop to the local community, however the information was easily translated for me by the volunteer co-coordinator.

Having completed the first ever nutritional workshop with VWA I was extremely pleased with the outcome. I am now keen and eager to improve the current workshop as well as planning and delivering other nutritional workshops to school and local communities.                                 
Author: Emily Salter - VWA Volunteer

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