International Women’s DaySaturday, March 8th was International Women’s Day. My post mate, Erin, has been working hard to plan a fun event for the ladies in her village. As I wrote about on an earlier blog, she built the stove. She also bought enough food to feed 500 people and organized some baby weighings. Unfortunately, I was late to her event because I had soccer practice in the morning. So I arrived around noon to see the end of the baby weighing. Malnutrition is a big problem in Benin. One little boy I met in Erin’s village is 12 years old, but he looks like he’s the size of a six year old. Because children are malnourished, they are often underweight. Mothers are given cards to keep track of their baby’s weight during their first three years. On the card is a chart that shows the ideal weight of a child at a certain age… see I told you all that line graphs are important!!! I should try to get a picture of one of the cards so you can see what it looks like. The babies were strapped into a harness and then hung onto a scale which measured their weight. If the baby made it into the green part of the graph they are considered to be a healthy weight. If they are in the red, then they are underweight and Erin gives tehm suggestions on how to improve their baby’s health. After the baby weighing was lunch… a delicious meal of rice with red sauce and fish or eggs. In the sauce, they put Moringa powder. Moringa is a plant that has a lot of vitamins and nutrients and is also very easy to grow. If you live in Erin‘s village and only eat pate then you need all the good nutrition you can get. Moringa offers a way for poor people to get the vitamins they need even though there aren’t a variety of foods to eat. Remember, there is no stop and shop here. If you want to eat something you have to grow it yourself. For the most part there are onions and tomatoes. Wealthier people can afford to buy lettuce and carrots, but if you are poor you eat the same thing every day at every meal!
The last event of the day was moto driving. More and more women in Benin drive and own motorcycles, but in villages it is more likely that a woman has never driven one. So Erin’s counterpart at the village health center, Marie, organized some motorcycle driving lessons. It was fun to see how excited the women were to get to actually drive a motorcycle. The kids were also into it, chasing the motorcycle. Of course, it all ended when one woman veered out of control and crashed into the health center. Luckily, no one was hurt. But the motorcycles two rear view mirrors were shattered. i am posting pictures!