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Bolivia: Men Get Familiar With Child, Maternal Nutrition, and Health

WFP gives a training session about maternal and child health as well as nutrition to the community of Eduardo Abaroa. This training is open to women, but it is specifically for men and boys. At first the males of the community are hesitant. But in the end the training proved well worth it.

After driving some three hours from the tropical city of Trinidad in Beni, Bolivia, we reach the Eduardo Abaroa community in the municipality of San Javier. Along the way, bounded by leafy trees and lush vegetation, we pass by snakes, turtles and iguanas.

WFP is there to deliver a training session on nutrition. The local leader waits for us at the community. The local leader personally invites all of the families to attend the session, but stressing on the participation of men and boys. These are hesitant because they think the topic of the session, maternal and child health and nutrition, is not intended for males and prefer females to attend the session.

A person of the WFP team explains to them that there is no problem if women also attend the training, but that it is indeed intended for men and boys. Still cautious they accept and WFP looks for a place under the shade to escape the heat which is bordering 38 degrees Celsius. WFP team improvises a lecture room while people take place forming a semicircle; they have come with their children too.

Learning by Playing
The training session starts with a group dynamic so that men and boys realize how important it is that they take part in the attention, care and nutrition of their children. People laugh and joke because the methodology has been designed for people to have a good time while learning new matters, as in the case of men and boys, or reinforcing knowledge, as in the case of women. The training session covers ten health and nutrition practices for children and pregnant or lactating women. These are promoted by the Bolivian central government through the Zero Malnutrition Programme.

Men Promise to Get Involved in Raising Healthy Children
A young couple has participated in the training session. They have come with their two boys, the eldest of two years old and the youngest only a baby.  “The training was meant for me” assures 22 year old Sotero Flores. He says this is the first time he takes part in such training, actually not because of lack of interest, rather because these sessions are usually delivered only to women.

“It is great that we, men and boys, increase our knowledge on these topics so that we also take on responsibilities with the nutrition and care of our children. Today I learnt that if it takes two, male and female, to make a baby, it should also take two to raise the child in good health”. After the session, Sotero and his family go for lunch and he promises to feed his eldest child and to accompany his wife to the next health control of the newborn. This is not the only case. As the final part of the training session, each man or boy takes on a concrete commitment in front of the whole community to take a more active role in the raising and nutrition of their children.