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Story Publication logo January 31, 2014

Guatemala: Gimme Nutrition

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Media file: thurow_100days.jpg
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The story of 1,000 days–the vital period from the beginning of a woman's pregnancy to her child's...

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Media file: 2013-07-09_18.28.27.jpg
Weighing-in. A baby is weighed during the Primeros Pasos cooking demonstration in Chuicavioc, Guatemala. Image by Anne Thurow. Guatemala, 2013.

There are several reasons why Guatemala sits atop the Hunger and Nutrition Commitment Index, a ranking compiled by the Institute of Development Studies in the UK measuring the political and social commitment to reduce hunger and undernutrition in developing countries.

One, the Guatemalan government is beginning to implement a Zero Hunger Plan that aims to reduce chronic malnutrition in children less than five years of age by 10% by 2016. That would be quite a feat, since Guatemala has one of the world's highest child stunting rates at 48%.

Two, the country's influential public sector is backing the plan and has formed a business alliance against malnutrition, which annually diminishes Guatemala's GDP by some 5%.

Three, the International Rabbits (Internacionales Conejos) are on the case. The Rabbits are arguably Guatemala's most popular marimba band. Working with the international humanitarian organization Save the Children, the Rabbits have provided a jaunty soundtrack to the national war on child stunting, which particularly emphasizes good nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene during the 1,000 days from when a women becomes pregnant to her child's second birthday. After their hit song "Give the Breast," about the importance of breastfeeding during the first six months, now comes the follow-up "Give Complementary Foods," about the nutritional needs of children through two years. Marimba has carried the health messages of the 1,000 days to the far reaches of the Western Highlands, where child malnutrition rates soar to 75%.

With the horns and drums and mayhem of marimba in mind, here are the lyrics to the songs, translated from the original Spanish.

Dale Pecho (Give the Breast)
Listen on YouTube.

For all the mothers, some advice from the International Rabbits…

It doesn't matter where you live
nor does it matter how you live
But you have to listen, listen to the advice that I'm going to give you:
If you are pregnant, you should take good care of yourself
You have to feed yourself very well
And you should have very good hygiene

So that your kids grow up healthy
Give, give, the breast to the child
Only breast milk is good
Give, give, the breast to the child
If you want them to be an engineer
Give, give them their food

If you want them to be a good teacher
Give, give, them their food
For an abundant harvest
Give them the breast
Because from the time the child is born,
You should give them breast milk

Listen mama, from one to six months you should only give them breast milk

Whenever you are in your house
you should keep it very clean
Always wash your hands
before you eat
You should take good care of your kids
feed them and love them
Because when they grow up
They will have good health and strength

So that your kids grow up healthy
Give, give, the breast to the child
Only breast milk is good
Give, give, the breast to the child
So they don't fail you in school
Give, give them their food

If you want to see them have energy
Give, give them their food
For an abundant harvest
Give them breast milk
Give, give, the breast to the child
And remember mama, from six months and onwards
you should give breast milk and complementary food to your children

Dale Comiditas (Give Complementary Foods)
Listen on YouTube.

And this is one more piece of advice for all of the mothers, from the International Rabbits…

Today I've come again to tell you
To care for your kids, don't neglect them
If you already gave them the breast, don't be afraid
from six to eight months you can start to give them
porridge, good and thick
It won't hurt their little belly
Lots of fruits and veggies
They won't hurt their little belly

After nine months, you can give them
Chicken liver, also beef
After twelve months give them everything
But never forget, to give them the breast

And happily they will grow,
don't deny them their food
Give them their complementary food every day
With patience and with love
And they will grow, healthy and strong, intelligent,
full of life, health as well
They will be teachers or athletes,
Good workers and much more

And remember at 12 months you can give them goat milk

Today I've come again, to tell you
To care for your kids, don't neglect them
If you already gave them the breast, don't be afraid
from six to eight months you can start to give them
porridge, good and thick
It won't hurt their little belly
Lots of fruits and veggies,
They won't hurt their little belly

After nine months, you can start to give them
Little pieces of chicken, and of beef,
After twelve months give them everything
But never forget, to give them the breast

And happily they will grow,
don't deny them their food
Give them complimentary foods daily
With patience and with love
And they will grow, healthy and strong, intelligent,
full of life, health as well
They will be teachers or athletes,
Good workers and much more

And don't forget to give them their zucchini, squash, and carrots so they can be a good rabbit.

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