Preparing for Our Nutrition Trainings

I’ve been in Rwanda one week now, but it feels like I have been here much longer. I finally know street names, I recognize people in the streets, and I feel comfortable hopping on a moto (a motorcycle- one of the main forms of transportation here) and telling the driver where I want to go.

Our nutrition team got to straight to work on Monday May 27th by finalizing our plans for the week’s nutrition trainings. The team involved with the nutrition trainings consists of: Ms. Patsy Watkins, a UT extension agent, Tracy Bucyana, Zamura’s nutrition coordinator and enumerator, Odette, a nutrition intern from the University of Rwanda, and myself. After reviewing our plans in the conference room at Zamura, we set out in a Zamura van to pick up groceries to practice our “1 pot- 1 hour” demonstration.

“1 pot- 1 hour” is simply a recipe for a stew that can be made with chicken. Preparing food takes up a large amount of time for the chicken farmers in the project, so many households will only eat 1 meal a day because they don’t have time to prepare more meals. We emphasize that this stew is a healthy meal that can be cooked in only 1 hour.

The first step in the process is to add soaked beans to a pot of boiling water. After letting the beans cook for 20 minutes one would add potato slices and cuts of chicken and cook that for another 20 minutes. Carrots and green peppers go in next and cook for 10 minutes. And finally onions and tomatoes cook for the last 10 minutes.  

Loaded down with 3 big bags of food and cooking supplies, we made our way to Zamura’s Egg Farm, also called the “Demo Farm.” The four of us worked together to cut up the ingredients for the “1 pot- 1 hour” demonstration, and we paid careful attention to add the foods to the pot at the right time.  

Benjamin, Zamura’s driver, tasting our practice trial of “1 pot- 1 hour.” He approves!

Our preparations for the nutrion trainings continued on Tuesday. We went back to the market to buy some extra ingredients for the “1 pot- 1 hour” demonstration and for the “shopping activity” that is included in the nutrition training.

The “shopping activity” is an exercise intended to demonstration to the chicken farmers how it is possible to make healthy choices even with little money to spend. We ask a volunteer from the group to come to the front and pick out the best foods to purchase with a certain amount of money. We display foods like potatoes, eggs, milk, amaranth, tomatoes, and onions. Foods like biscuits (like an American sugar cookie) and bottles of Fanta are also on display. It surprises many farmers to learn that the more nutrient-dense foods are actually less expensive than the processed food.

I think that our nutrition team showed great resilience during these days of preparation. We spent our mornings in markets selecting different ingredients and cooking supplies. We also forced to change our plans many times. An example is that we had planned to offer the farmers bottled milk as a snack during the trainings, and we learned just hours before the training began that our bottled milk was not available. Resilient and quick-thinking, Tracy called another store and ordered several boxes of packaged milk. These things challenged us, but we overcame them and had 5 great nutrition trainings last week.

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