Links support a partner in Zambia called ‘Shiloh Hands of Hope’. The founding directors are Pastor Lackson Chipeta and his wife Fainess, based in the town of Lundazi. Links International have been involved in supporting their community development work, with healthcare training, since 2014 and it has always been a privilege to return and see the increasing confidence of the volunteer community health teams and hear about the impact they have made in their local villages.

The purpose of this visit was to build on the nutrition teaching that had been started last year. As well as myself, there were three other volunteers who were part of the Links training team: Chris Blackburn, Val Foster and Chris Lush. We were joined by 32 participants, representing six different localities.

We started each morning with a Bible devotion, related to the nutrition topic for that day. This rooted the training in God’s word and prayer. We covered a significant number of nutrition topics including the special nutritional needs of pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, babies, children and adolescents, dental hygiene and non-communicable diseases. Every participant received their own printed copy of the nutrition chapter from the book, ‘Where There is No Doctor’. This was used during the training and remains as an ongoing resource for them.

Nutrition is such a key health topic with many challenges. Stunting (impaired growth and development), caused by under-nutrition, impacts 45% of children in Zambia. It is largely irreversible; a child cannot recover height in the same way that they can regain weight. Stunted children fall sick more often, miss opportunities to learn, perform less well in school and grow up to be economically disadvantaged and more likely to suffer from chronic diseases in adult life.

The participants had opportunity not just to gain knowledge and understanding, with which they can go and teach their own communities, but also time to look at the very real challenges associated with cultural expectations around food, diet and behaviour change. There are no easy answers to the challenges they face in their localities, but hopefully we have facilitated them to discuss and think through their own solutions and to persevere in passing on this understanding and motivation to their communities. Along with the certificates, presented on the last day, we were also able to give away a third complete edition of the book, ‘Where There is No Doctor’ for each volunteer team.

Thank you - to everyone in Zambia who planned for our stay, welcomed us so warmly, attended the training and will be passing it on in their local situations. Thank you - to the fabulous Links team volunteers, who gave up time and resources to impart their skills, knowledge and love to the participants. Thank you, to all who partner Links, in prayer and financially, to make trips like this possible. Above all, thank you to God, who allows us to be part of His work in seeing lives transformed.

Ann Edmunds
Community Healthcare Coordinator, Links International