When I first arrived at TTL, I was shocked by how small the babies were. I was so used to seeing huge American babies. I quickly realized this is the visual impact of malnutrition. I witnessed how young children who are suffering from malnutrition were not meeting their developmental milestones. Children who were one had yet to crawl, or a two-year-old who regressed and no longer was walking, and children who hadn’t started speaking were becoming common to me. It was eye-opening for me. It wasn’t long before TTL management team started sharing with me the importance of 1000 days and how they want to do more in regards to focusing on the first 1000 days. TTL has always focused on the nutritional aspect of health in the first 1000 days and during the last few years, I have witnessed how they are also focusing on developmental importance. Every day I witness how important the first 1000 days of life are and it has been an absolute joy getting to see how TTL works with families to set up as strong of a foundation as possible for each child that comes into their care.
Over the past few years there has been a push to emphasize the importance of the first 1000 days of a child’s life, starting at conception and ending on the child’s second birthday. This time period is a sensitive and very important time, especially in Lesotho where only 1 in 10 children make it to their 5th birthday.The first 1000 days serve as the foundation for the rest of life, both in health and brain development. It is during these 1000 days that either a strong or fragile foundation is built
TTL has made that commitment to this cause in a variety of ways. TTL fully supports exclusive breastfeeding, partnering with a variety of health centers to support breastfeeding support groups to bring vital information to breastfeeding mothers and community advocates. Additionally,TTL recognizes and supports mothers who are unable to breastfeed by being the only organization in Mokhotlong to provide families with formula once a health center or hospital has advised the family to formula feed.
TTL encourages all of our families to stay up-to-date on their children’s immunizations, such as vitamin A and dewormer. When children have moved on from breast milk, we provide our families with monthly food packages to help children reach stability in their growth metrics. Outside of focusing on the nutritional aspects of the first 1000 days, TTL also works with caregivers to help them expose their children to various activities ensuring that the children reach their developmental milestones.
Nutrition has such a huge importance in making sure children thrive, especially in the first 1000 days. Mokhotlong has a stunting rate of 48%, higher than any other district in Lesotho. Startling data shows how essential TTL’s work has become, ensuring all children have a strong foundation for life.
Nastassia is a current Peace Corps Volunteer with TTL. She has experience working in various aspects of International Public Health with a strong focus on Maternal and Children’s health. She works mostly with the various TTL outreach programs and just loves spending afternoons in the safe home with the best babies in the world.