Food for the Hungry's Mentorship Program Helps Young Mothers in Congo Save Infant Lives

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Food for the Hungry's mentorship program is protecting thousands of children from malnutrition and preventable diseases by training women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to mentor young mothers who are pregnant or have children under age 2.

Young mothers in the DRC are learning to grow food to improve the health of their children.

I learned about the three types of food to make a balanced diet, how to work against malnutrition in my household, and how to make a garden behind my house.

A Food for the Hungry (FH) mentorship program is bringing life-saving information to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where young mothers are often under-educated regarding basic nutrition, health and hygiene practices. Put into practice, these simple health lessons can prevent malnutrition, illnesses and even death for infants and young children. FH’s program has more than tripled the goal for young mothers implementing health care behaviors in their homes.

The program targeted 63,110 vulnerable households in three territories of the DRC. Twice a month, FH staff met with mothers who served as health experts in their communities. These women are called mother leaders. FH staff taught mother leaders health information, then mother leaders formed care groups made up of approximately 10 of their neighbors who are pregnant or have a child under the age of 2. Mother leaders mentored these women and passed on important health information to them.

The shared information included treating early childhood illnesses, nutrition, and hygiene. Mothers also learned about vegetable gardening, the value of breast feeding, having children sleep under mosquito nets, antenatal healthcare visits, and signs of danger during pregnancy and delivery.

In the care groups, mother leaders also helped monitor the health and nutrition status of their beneficiary mothers and families. Women lives are changed as they learn to better care for their children. Women like Mande Bibi Kawa, mother of four children, who decided to join a care group after seeing FH’s work in the surrounding area building latrines and wells.

“I learned about the three types of food to make a balanced diet, how to work against malnutrition in my household, and how to make a garden behind my house. Now we can have enough food and sell some to get money for household needs,” said Mande, who’s four children span the ages of 7 months to 11 years. Mande and her family were also given seeds to supply their home garden with cabbages, carrots, onions, tomatoes and eggplant.

This fiscal year, FH worked in the DRC training 29,610 mother leaders in various health and nutrition lessons. These women in turn reached 182,391 mothers with life-saving information. Mother leaders also distributed a total of 6,193 pounds of seeds to beneficiary families.

Founded in 1971, Food for the Hungry provides emergency relief and long-term development programs with operations in more than 20 countries to help the world's most vulnerable people. Learn more by visiting Social connections include and

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Karen Randau
Food for the Hungry
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