FVA meet church leaders to discuss their role in the war against malnutrition in Nyamasheke

Fri, 19 Aug

Faith Victory Association (FVA) in partnership with World Vision Rwanda (WVR) has on August 11 met with over 50 church leaders of Nyamasheke to discuss about their role in the war against malnutrition in Nyamasheke district.

This meeting was organized through the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (EKN) project which is aimed at reducing stunting among children less than two years in Nyamasheke. EKN is being implemented by FVA in partnership with World Vision Rwanda (WVR) and UNICEF on the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Participants of the meeting include pastors from different Christian churches operating in Nyamasheke district, Catholic Church priests and Muslim representatives.

Meeting organizers said that the decision of meeting church leaders came after realizing that some church beliefs can affect negatively suitable nutrition among their believers. Another reason was to see church leaders using their power and respect in the society to change mindsets of believers about nutrition.

The meeting was commenced by a short presentation of the updated malnutrition status in Nyamasheke district. The presentation clarified that malnutrition illness cases have declined while stunting cases are still going up compared to national statistics.  

Claudette Mukamana, The vice Mayor in charge of Social Affairs in Nyamasheke district who opened the meeting, appreciated FVA and World Vision Rwanda for organizing and providing all necessary logistics for the success of the meeting. She encouraged church leaders to add nutrition agenda on what they have been partnering with the district.

Raphael Mushumba who represented FVA in the meeting reminded preachers to not only purify the spirit but also to remember to protect the body and soul since the human being is made of Soul, Spirit and the Body and that most of the time when the body is suffering it can spoil both the soul and the spirit in the same time.

“Most often, our preaches are concentrated on spiritual issues and we give less importance on telling followers about protection of our bodies which is an essential tool of spiritual activities and soul behaviors. For example, if you don’t protect your legs and one of them is broken, will you be able to go and deliver the spiritual message to believers? Or if your wife was hospitalized because of a certain illness, will your emotions and feelings allow you to preach in a good mood? So my message was to remind you that you have also the mission of protecting altogether the soul, spirit and bodies.” He said.

In group discussions, churches leaders  identified  major causes of malnutrition among Nyamasheke children, effects of malnutrition to their churches and highlighted the role of churches in prevention of malnutrition.

Some of the major causes of malnutrition, church leaders have highlighted poverty in some families, poor mindsets, poor hygiene, poor nutrition and some beliefs which lead to malnutrition. They also acknowledged that malnutrition can affect proper child development and that can affect the growth of churches and the country development.

After analyzing causes of malnutrition and its impacts on the society, church leaders have proposed solutions to prevent malnutrition. Some of the remedies proposed by church leaders are to put in place nutrition groups, to involve believers in assisting the poor and to add more nutrition messages in their existing social healing programs.

The meeting has also drawn some recommendations which include preparing follow up meetings to evaluate the success of the first meeting, to set anti-malnutrition committee in churches, to prepare an appropriate meeting to mothers unions, to strengthen the partnership between churches and technicians in nutrition issues.

Pst. Nzabagorora Joseph is a pastor for Buhinga parish in ADEPR church. He said that they are shocked by Nyamasheke district statistics about malnutrition and said that they are going to use their power to convince believers about fighting malnutrition. “We are going to use our position and fight malnutrition among our believers and we hope to succeed since our followers were taught to strongly believe in what we say.”

The meeting was also an opportunity for World Vision Rwanda representative to passed nutrition lessons to churches leaders whereby they were taught on 1,000 days campaign, essential elements of a balanced diet, how to prepare a balanced food and effects of stunting among other lessons.