Two weeks, more insight

So these last two weeks were all about reading and understanding the project.  The bulk of my time was reading about global anemia, comprehensive sexual education, menstrual hygiene management, the prevention of early marriage, how to initiate health services, dealing with non-communicable diseases, working on positive gender norms and the vague topic of strengthening protective factors.  Things I have learned:

  1. The developing world is hungry and anemic.
  2. It doesn’t matter where you are, US, EU or the developing world, in general, parents don’t talk to kids about sex.
  3. Menstruating Women and Girls in the developing world have it hard.
  4. Preventing early marriage isn’t about shouting “Western” values.  It is about gentle change from within.  Shouting doesn’t get you anywhere.
  5. The initiating of health services is a huge issue and this where I thing we can make a huge difference.
  6. Positive gender norm formation is not just about girls.  Boys/men will make the difference.
  7. Protective factors.  This is where I think the change has to be made.

Okay so lets start with anemia.  The developing world is anemic.  It is as simple and complicated as that.  Anemia (iron deficiency) has a detrimental effect on physical and mental development of young children and is irreversible if iron therapy is started after the “critical” period of development as elapsed.   If not addressed it is a vicious cycle –they struggle is school because of a lack of cognitive development, they drop out of school because they are struggling, have started menstruating (which makes their anemia even worse), the dad marries the girl off because she is a “woman” now.  She gets pregnant (I will talk about teenage pregnancy in detail later) and has a low birth weight baby which is a huge risk of peri-natal mortality.  Even if she can work her anemia reduces work performance.  Her household suffers, her children suffer and as a whole society suffers.  And don’t forget men are just as anemic too.  This gave me a new understanding as to why the developing world really isn’t developing.

Some statistics – a study in Kenya of nine hundred and twenty eight (928) 12 – 18 y/o girls showed that 12.1% where stunted and 15.6% where classified as thin.  A study in Indonesia showed that of ~three thousand (3000) 12 – 15 year olds surveyed 25.8% or girls and 24.5% of pre-pubescence boys where anemic.

It seems to me that this is the primary issue.  Deal with this from the beginning, nutrition, and the world could be a better place.  And when I say nutrition I don’t mean just import food and feed people.  The whole premise of sustainable agriculture has to be dealt with.

Comprehensive Sexual Education.

It is interesting that parents around the world don’t talk to their children about their maturing bodies.  This age – 10 to 14 year old boys and girls is the perfect age to intervene.  To early and they don’t get it and don’t understand.  To late and way to many preconceived notions and myths are happening.  But all over the world parents, teachers and governments are hesitant to accept that their children are becoming adults.  There are a dozen reasons for this but it doesn’t alleviate the fact that breaking the cycle will help, in the long term, break poverty.

I think that is enough for now.  I will right more about the other pillars and how they affect children.

A few questions and thoughts for my village members and please make a comment on my blog:

  1. First I received some questions how to subscribe just to my blog.  Sorry it is an all or nothing thing so I if you have subscribed and don’t want all the Pulse teams blogs…unsubscribe and I will be sending out an email each time I add an entry.
  2. I am reading a spectacular book – Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood.  Totally inspirational and a great easy summer read.  Pick it up and you will be moved.
  3. What is everyone’s thoughts about the developing world and how NGOs, governments and communities use the resources to develop their communities?  I welcome thoughts and a discussion about this.