Impact Story: The Importance of the Kitchen Garden
Phattepur is a large region of Raptipari in Midwestern Nepal encompassing about 3,000 households. The region has a diverse population, with several different ethnic and religious groups living there, including Madhesi, Muslim, Tharu, and Nepali. International Nepal Fellowship (INF) and HealthBridge Foundation of Canada are implementing a four-year maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) project in this area. The project is funded by Global Affairs Canada. Local Mothers’ Groups are an important part of this project – they are a monthly group led by Female Community Health Volunteers (FCHV), where local women meet to learn about MNCH and nutrition. Phattepur has 29 Mothers’ Groups.
Shital is a 28-year-old woman living in the Bheluniya village of Phattepur. She lives in a joint household with her husband and children, as well as her mother and father-in-law, a common living arrangement in Nepal. To earn money, the men of the family work at the mill and the women tend to household work, care for children and are responsible for the domestic animals.
When Shital was pregnant with her second baby, she lacked the time and resources to tend to her own health needs. This included maintaining proper nutrition during her pregnancy, as nutrient-dense foods like fresh fruits and vegetables were harder to access with limited resources. Shital’s days consisted of collecting wood for the fire and preparing food for her large family. She was inadvertently neglecting her health due to a lack of health education and resources.
The local FCHV and MNCH facilitators from the project advised Shital to get involved with Mothers’ Groups, but she initially declined due to her heavy workload. Shital was six months pregnant when the INF MNCH project was distributing seasonal vegetable seeds to local households. Shital received the vegetable seeds, as well as some training on planting a garden. She was very pleased with the seeds and by following the instructions of the MNCH facilitators, she established her kitchen garden. A few months later, Shital and her family were able to eat a variety of vegetables that she had grown herself. Throughout this time, Shital grew close with the MNCH team and agreed to join her village’s Mothers’ Group to learn more about health during pregnancy, nutrition and children’s health.
Shital delivered a healthy baby girl weighing 3.2 kg. She expressed having learned a great deal of health information from the Mothers’ Group. She used this information to better care for herself and her children. After receiving seasonal vegetable seeds, most of her family became engaged in kitchen gardening as well. As a result, they were able to consume and share a variety of vegetables with their family members and neighbours. Shital and her community members were very thankful for the Mothers’ Groups and for the opportunity to learn and to be supported in achieving good health.
Story by: International Nepal Fellowship, HealthBridge Foundation of Canada
This project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.