Girl Powered Nutrition: Empowering the community we belong

12 Agosto 2020
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Skotisma Zazavavy Malagasy in Madagascar is one of four WAGGGS Membership organisations that take part in the Girl Powered Nutrition (GPN) programme aiming to reduce the disproportionate impact of malnutrition in girls and young women in the country. One part of the programme allocates funds to certain areas, named Action Hubs, to complete community-based activities.

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In the north-west of Madagascar, lies a city called Mahajanga with a troop of rangers named the “Justine Tsiranana Troop”. The troop live by the motto “Keen on Development” and continue to bring positive change in their community through the GPN Action Hub fund awarded to them by the National Board of Mpanazava in 2019.

“As part of our mission, advocating for change in our community is key. As we are extremely interested in the development of our peers, we took the opportunity to do just that and have started to plan for the actions we will conduct in our city.”

Troop Leader, Justine Tsiranana Troop

In late 2019, the troop defined their actions and the locations of their activities. They were particularly looking for locations that were very busy, with lots of community members and tourists and where fried, unhealthy food is the most prevalent. They chose to identify “Petite Plage”, on the beach and a girls’ shelter in the main city. The project began in early 2020, and it has included talks, interviews and sensitization with local community members.

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“It was quite interesting because we got the opportunity to exchange ideas with the food sellers and the people cooking food in those areas. It was a moment of learning for us and a time to change something in our community.”

Advocacy Champion, Girl Powered Nutrition

Helping the community understand Girl Powered Nutrition

The troop found that the execution was not easy for them at first. They found it difficult to talk to the sellers and convince them to introduce key GPN principles into their businesses. Through meetings and events, they persisted in trying to help the community understand why selling healthy food is not only good for their business but also a way for them to help others in the community.

“We have mainly faced a problem of non-availability of the sellers. Sellers come to a busy place to sell their products, and if we take their time to talk, it means they are losing time and money. However, as Girl Guides, we have learnt to be patient and to adapt to any situation.

We proceeded by dividing the work between the team to enable us to talk to different people at different times. We talked to some sellers when they do not have clients and let them sell when clients are there. This really helped us divide the work and we managed to talk to more sellers than we originally planned.”

Advocacy Champion, Girl Powered Nutrition

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At the girl’s shelter in the city, the Advocacy Champions planned to conduct the Girl Powered Nutrition curriculum they had learnt themselves through gaining their badges. They were pleased with being able to conduct all six stages of the programme.

The girls in the shelter were keen to do more, so the Advocacy Champions helped them establish a vegetable garden that they designed and planted together, enabling the group to profit from the products grown and prepare healthy food for their residents.

“We are really happy that the girls in the shelter have received knowledge about good nutrition and are now practising the knowledge they have received from our GPN Action Hub.”

Advocacy Champion, Girl Powered Nutrition

Cooking up a competition!

To conclude their project, the Action Hub launched a cooking competition in Mahajanga to help the food sellers and the girls from the shelter learn how to cook healthy food using local products. The participants were very creative in ways to improve their nutrition and the nutrition of the community.

The Action Hub has been very clear about their message to fellow Guides. To keep on practising what you have learned. Those practices will help you to live what you have learned and help to impact the community in which you belong to.

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“We are very happy with the results of our project because the sellers now understand the messages we want to deliver, and some of them have even started to change the food they are selling to be healthier. The girls in the shelter are now able to take care of their health as they are eating a colourful rainbow menu, full of fruit and vegetables they have grown.

During this experience, we gained a lot of new knowledge and we managed to work effectively in a team. We have gained a lot of practice of the key messages of Girl Powered Nutrition and gained essential leadership skills too.

The importance of conducting a project within Guiding is the diverse experiences we gain, and the social impact that we were able to bring to our community. We have left our long-lasting impact on the benefits of the girls and young women, and on the benefits of the community.”

Advocacy Champion, Girl Powered Nutrition

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