This blog was written by Caitlin Gruer, a field intern with HKI Cambodia.
Monday morning I was greeted with an excellent surprise when I arrived at the HKI headquarters in Phnom Penh: I was going to have my first opportunity to go into the field and meet with some of our program beneficiaries! Along with 3 of my colleagues here at HKI Cambodia, I traveled to Kampong Thom and Kampong Cham districts to conduct interviews about our Micronutrient Powder (MNP) program.
In an effort to address child health issues including child anemia and stunting, HKI Cambodia implemented an in-home fortification program in which mothers receive sachets of micronutrient powders (MNP) to add to their babies’ food to ensure that it is adequately nutritious. The MNP is distributed by village health volunteers (VHV) who also educate the mothers about complementary feeding practices, how to use the MNPs, and why good nutrition is so crucial for child development and health etc. This week I had the chance to see this program in action!
The trip began on Monday afternoon when we drove the 4 hours to Kampong Thom. Much of the road we traveled on was under construction; an obvious sign of the ongoing development occurring throughout Cambodia. I had so much fun watching the Cambodian countryside pass by my window. This was my first opportunity to go into the provinces, and I didn’t want to miss a thing! From the bright green rice paddy fields to the children playing the rain and the piles of fried tarantulas sold at roadside stalls, every moment of the trip was exciting. Bright and early on Tuesday morning we headed out into the field to begin our interviews.
Throughout the day we met with four families and two village health volunteers. It was so great to get to see one of our programs in action. Each of the families we talked to was able to walk us through the process of preparing food fortified with the MNP and explain the importance of child nutrition. This was a promising indication that the educational aspect of the program is working well and a testament to the hard work of our program staff, VHVs and program beneficiaries. Also, all of the mothers reported that they thought that their children were healthier. One mother explained that since starting the MNP three months ago, her daughter has been sick less often and has gained weight. It was really amazing to hear these success stories and to meet the adorable children who are the living proof of this success!
Now that I’m back in the office, my next task is to write two case studies about the experience; one highlighting the families, and another about the VHVs. As always, make sure to check out @HKIintern #HKICambodia on Twitter for more frequent updates from the field!