Church and CARE support women through Protein for People project

One mother’s example in Benin, Africa, shows how CARE and the Church build nutrition and self-reliance

When Clarisse, 25, was six months pregnant, she went for her first prenatal consultation. She said she was vomiting a lot, but the midwife did not help her.

“I promised myself that I wouldn’t go back again until I gave birth, as long as I felt well,” Clarisse said, whose last name was not given. 

But then the Protein for People project came to her commune in Abomey, Benin, a country in West Africa. Protein for People is an effort from CARE, with funding from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Clarisse had learning sessions on the importance of prenatal consultations and of childbirth in a health center. She received a home visit from the project facilitator, who taught her about the importance of prenatal consultations and recommended that she have a consultation soon.

“To my surprise, when I went for a consultation at another health center, I learned my water had broken,” Clarisse said. “Fortunately for me, I had come back for a consultation.”

Her delivery went well, and her baby was born safe and sound — a little girl that she named Marvelous.  

“Thanks to this project by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and CARE, I was able to save my life and that of my child.” 

About CARE and Protein for People

CARE works in over 100 countries to save lives and fight poverty, explained Dana Tseng, senior director of development for CARE USA.

“In Benin, the health and wellbeing of children and their families is especially a concern, with almost 40% of people living below the poverty line,” she said. “CARE’s programs place a special focus on working with women to improve the status of their families, by helping them gain the skills and opportunities they need to overcome poverty.”

Benin is shown on a map of West Africa. | Google Maps

Protein for People has been working with women and families to improve their access to nutritious foods.

Examples include creating home gardens, where families grow vitamin-rich vegetables and raise chickens, quail and fish, all of which are a source of protein in the family’s diets. 

The mothers are also supported in small business activities, such as selling eggs, which increase the family’s income and ability to purchase other nutritious foods, Tseng said.  

Families are trained about the importance of a diverse diet and how to prepare nutritious foods and how safe hygienic practices and safe drinking water correlate with good nutrition.

And pregnant women receive education on the importance of good nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding in the first six months of a baby’s life.

Tseng said Clarisse’s example shows how the Protein for People project is blessing lives in Benin — the new mother received education about how to make sure she had a healthy pregnancy, and the trainings changed her mind about the value of doctor visits and monitoring her health for the sake of her newborn.

“Women like Clarisse are also given the opportunity to participate in savings and loans groups with other women from their community, where they can borrow and save to support their own small businesses and increase their family’s income,” Tseng said.

The Church and CARE

For nearly 40 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has worked with CARE, helping improve the health and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people around the world. 

Funding from the Church has made it possible for CARE to reach thousands of women like Clarisse, Tseng said.  Over a five year period, the Church helped CARE reach 24,000 women and their families.

CARE responds around the world when emergencies happen, but also works in countries like Benin through longer-term, sustainable programs that fight poverty and improve the wellbeing of children and their families.

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