By Norma S. de Sierra, national director for CCF-Honduras
Guide Mothers are leading the way for children in Honduras. Their days start at five a.m. when they get their own children ready for school. Then, they spend much of the rest of the day visiting other families and teaching parents how to raise healthy children.
It’s a long day, to be sure, but a worthwhile one, too.
Guide Mothers monitor the health of the more than 22,000 children throughout CCF program communities in Honduras. CCF selects women who are role models in their community and provides them with extensive, continual health training.
|A CCF Guide Mother shares information about proper health care and nutrition.|
Each Guide Mother is assigned five or six “nucleus” families who live nearby. Because they get to know the families so well, they are able to act quickly if need be. During home visits, the Guide Mother tracks the children’s immunizations, and health and nutritional status.
Guide mothers also provide basic health care education, treating respiratory illnesses and diarrhea.
These actions are taken under a holistic approach, within the family and community environment.
The Guide Mothers teach parents how to identify acute respiratory infections, prepare oral re-hydration therapy (ORT), use proper sanitation and purify water. These efforts have improved health practices in the communities.
At one time, only 22 percent of sponsored families knew how to treat dehydration using ORT; today, due in great part to the work of the Guide Mothers, 91 percent do.
Often, the Guide Mothers work with sick children, referring them to hospitals when necessary and watching them closely upon their release. In addition, they are trained to detect early hearing problems or learning difficulties.
They use various activities — including puppet shows, theater, painting and music —to promote stimulation.
Others received training in breastfeeding, family planning and prenatal and infant care. Printed materials address reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections and HIV/AIDS.
In addition, the Honduran Ministry of Health, funded by the World Bank, works with CCF to incorporate this program into its Child Integral Assistance Program. This joint effort has even influenced national policies on early childhood development.
Guide Mothers — a good way to teach parents, strengthen children and arrest the cycle of poverty.