It Takes a Village October 2, 2017 by Krista Park Berry
Mothers in Kibera face many obstacles in breastfeeding. Cultural stigmatization, a lack of information regarding health benefits, and the absence of equipment and facilities all impede this vital aspect of nutritional development, and by extension, family and community well-being. Our community care groups are changing that.
With supportive family members surrounding them, mothers have a much easier time breastfeeding and continue the practice for longer periods of time. While fathers may be willing to lend a hand, often times they are not able due to lack of information or even knowing what support can look like. Breastfeeding works best when men are involved, and our community care volunteers and health workers are partnering with families to educate and empower fathers and men to feel confident in their support roles.
In partnership with the the Kenyan Ministry of Health and community partners including Save the Children, Feed the Children, and Kidogo, we offered the Kiberan community a unique program for 2017 World Breastfeeding Week. So in true spirit of the week’s theme – Sustaining Breastfeeding Together and Creating Partnerships – our program addressed how men and fathers can better support breastfeeding and be an advocate for the women in their lives. Dr. Carol Ngunu-Gituathi, deputy director of health of Nairobi County, was our guest of honor for the event held on September 8th in the Kianda village of Kibera.
We also welcomed father of four, Lucas, to share his message on how friends and family, and fathers especially, can be a pillar of support to the women in their lives who have just given birth. Lucas learned information about the importance of and many benefits of breastfeeding from community care group sessions. While his first three children were not exclusively breastfed, he wanted to ensure his fourth child had this opportunity and looked to ways to better support his wife.
We are thrilled that more than 1,000 women and community members joined this partnership in celebrating community wellness and the importance of breastfeeding for overall health and well being of mother and child. Thanks so much to everyone involved! Together, we are making an impact and improving health for all Kiberans.