KIHEFO promotes local initiated solutions to fight disease, ignorance and poverty in southwestern Uganda
For international volunteers and visitors who come to Kabale, Uganda, to learn about KIHEFO’s approach to development and on the ground activities, the majority are hosted by a very special KIHEFO volunteer named Letiru Patricia, or ‘Patsy’ as some have called her with great affection.
Patricia is originally from the Northern District of Arua, though she’s been working in Kabale with KIHEFO via Kigezi Tours for over three years. She’s the face of KIHEFO to guests who stay at the apartments in Kabale, helping to make visitors feel welcomed and comfortable in their new surroundings. Patricia works tirelessly to attend to large groups, including Kindness in Action and TO – the WORLD dental brigades who visit for two-week long marathon-like medical and dental camps. She cooks, cleans, washes, informs, cares for, and entertains both Ugandan and international volunteers with her great sense of humor. Indeed, Patsy plays a very unique role within the KIHEFO Family.
Cooking with Patricia at the Nutrition & Rehabilitation Centre
What many people don’t realize is that Patricia’s knowledge and talent for cooking has begun to expand into KIHEFO’s programs to fight poverty, disease and ignorance in the Kigezi region of southwestern Uganda.
Patricia is passionate about preparing nutritious meals using locally-sourced vegetables, fruits, grains and meats. She also has a deep, natural fondness for children, which is evident every time she visits KIHEFO’s Nutrition and Rehabilitation Centre, and playfully scoops a child up into her loving arms.
In the past three months, Patricia has volunteered her ideas and creativity to facilitate three Nutrition & Cooking Workshops with caretakers and malnourished children who are staying at the Rehabilitation Centre for extended periods of time.
Part of KIHEFO’s goal is not only to attend to the immediate (often severe) health needs of malnourished children who are referred for rehabilitation, but also to provide education and resources to the caretaker who stays with the child. The hope is that mothers and caretakers will eventually leave the Centre with greater capacity to identify affordable, local food sources that are high in nutrients, and know how to prepare them for their children.
Peanut Butter, Wild Greens & Fruits
In March, Patricia, along with a volunteer from TO – the WORLD, led a workshop with caretakers and mothers how to prepare natural peanut butter. Peanut butter contains high levels of protein and healthy oils, and due to the high rate of protein deficiency amongst children in the region, it’s an appropriate protein-boosting food source. Patricia returned from the workshop, motivated by the positive response from KIHEFO’s nursing staff, the caretakers, and mostly – the children, whom Patricia reported, “loved the peanut butter!”
When a group of six Globe Med students from Detroit visited Kabale in May, Patricia once again put her cooking and food skills to use, facilitating another workshop using locally-sourced greens. She showed mothers how to use wild and cultivated greens, including dodo (wild spinach) and pumpkin leaves, which are rich in important micro-nutrients, and prepare them with peanut butter – to appeal to children’s taste liking.
Last week, Patricia, along with a nutrition student from Regina, Saskatchewan, and a volunteer from Seattle, organized another workshop teaching mothers and caretakers about the importance of eating fruits.
“Eating fruits is like eating medicine,” Patricia explained to the mothers and caretakers.
She helped them to identify fruits that were plentiful, affordable and available in the region. Such fruits include avocados, gooseberries, bananas, papaya, melons and pineapple.
‘Cooking with Patsy’ has created excitement amongst KIHEFO’s nursing and health worker staff members, who help to facilitate and translate teachings into the local language of Rukiga. Patricia’s workshops provide a wonderful learning environment for mothers and caretakers, staff members, and international volunteers. The goal is to empower all those who are involved, and contribute to educating people of local foods available for combating malnutrition, especially amongst babies and children.
Patricia is a local Ugandan KIHEFO volunteer who goes above and beyond striving to make a difference in her own life and the lives of others. Learn more about Patricia and her initiatives by visiting her personal blog – Patsy’s Crafts.
To learn more about KIHEFO and how you can get involved, please visit our website – click here.