A Mothers’ Club program started by a Community Health Worker to help women in his district address the health concerns they and their families experience such as malnutrition, high rates of maternal and infant mortality, and infectious diseases is expanding! Women in this program felt empowered and want to become promoters of health in their communities.
HOPE has established seven "mother’s clubs" or groups of about 30-40 women who come together with HOPE’s support to discuss health issues affecting their families. The mothers reported that they had discussed HIV/AIDS at their last meeting. They also reported that following their meetings they worked as peer educators, talking to other women about what they had learned and, at times, conducting community theatre skits to deliver health messaging.
Women in the mother’s club focus group also reported that they have witnessed a decline in cases of malnutrition in their community because they now understand the root causes of malnutrition better and what to do to prevent it. As one woman put it, "At the beginning, we thought that malnutrition was coming from spiritual causes but now we know how to feed our children." One woman explained in the focus group that now that HOPE had conducted health education, she knew that she should include a fruit or vegetable with every meal she prepared for her family. When the review team asked the focus group if it was common practice to breastfeed, several women responded yes. One of the reviewers then tested the knowledge level of the group by suggesting that breastfeeding could be combined with water; every single woman in the group knew this was incorrect and in unison shook their heads, with one woman saying that "breastfeeding should be exclusive." In fact, exclusive breastfeeding up to six months of age for infants is the standard that is recommended by health experts to prevent malnutrition and bolster overall health, and the women in the group demonstrated an awareness of this information, as well as a positive attitude in support of the healthy practice.
While improved health outcomes was overwhelmingly highlighted by both HOPE staff and community members as the main strength and impact of the program, several beneficiaries also mentioned important and positive socio-economic changes as a result of the project.
One woman reported that she had less domestic conflict with her husband now that they both engaged in HOPE activities; previously if she wanted to leave the house on her own, it would cause a conflict with her husband, but since he now knows she is going to a HOPE activity and he is also a member of the volunteer network, he is supportive of her going out to socialize. While this was just one case that was reported, it is significant in that it is an unintended positive outcome of the project.