MARIAM TRAORE is 18 years old and lives in Boko. She follows the penultimate year of the scientific direction of secondary education. But on weekends and some afternoons, she visits families in her area to explain the importance of balanced nutrition.
Mariam is one of the six ambassadors at her school. During each visit to a family, she measures the upper arm of every child between the ages of 0 and 5 with a colored ribbon meter: “If the arm circumference is in the red zone, I inform my coach so that he can convince the parents to go to a local medical center. If the arm circumference is in the orange zone, I try to convince the parents to feed their child differently. Together with the food specialists of the Foundation we produce enriched flour ourselves and we offer that. But even if the measurement is outside the danger zone, I tell parents about the importance of a balanced diet. In addition to grains, vegetables, fruit and proteins are also essential. ”
Mariam also tries to convince women to follow cooking sessions and feeding courses. They are given in the villages by local people who were trained in the CIAP innovation center of the Hubi and Vinciane Foundation.
What is most emotional about her job as a malnutrition ambassador?
“I find it terrible when babies or children cry while I measure their upper arm. It reminds them of the vaccinations they once received. Or they are just afraid of the colorful measuring tape. I always have to take the time to calm and soothe them. “
Are all parents willing to have their children checked by (and to listen to) an 18-year-old girl?
“No of course not. There are always those who refuse. I then report this to my coach and he will talk to the village chief or other villagers who are trying to convince them. But luckily there are also many mothers who are grateful because they hope that I can make their child stronger. ”
Why did Mariam really want to be an ambassador?
“Because I want to help my people. I also hope to become a doctor myself one day. This is already a bit of a preparation for that. And – if I am very honest – also because, as an ambassador, I receive breakfast every day from the Foundation, in return for my commitment to the fight against malnutrition. ”
“But really: the most important thing is that it makes me happy that I can help give the children of my community better health and therefore better opportunities”
Lea Van Hoeymissen