Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Results Are In: Improved Health, Flat Bellies, & Nutritious Gardens

January 28, 2014

Originally published at Catapult News.

Gina has three children and although she doesn’t want any more, her husband refuses to pay for contraceptives because he believes there are more important uses for the money. Since Gina doesn’t earn her own income, convincing her husband to change his mind proved futile. That’s when she came across Roots of Health—a nonprofit that works to enhance the lives of girls, women, and their communities in the Philippines, through educational, medical, and nutritional support—that was providing free contraceptives. Gina finally felt in control of her own body. This is just one example of the impact Roots of Health projects have had for girls & women.

 Before Roots of Health was here in our community, you couldn’t find a flat belly anywhere, because everyone was always pregnant. Now, I see more flat bellies, because women have become empowered to control when and how many children they want to have.Lorna, former Roots of Health clientIn the past year, Roots of Health and Catapult have worked on 10 projects together, all of which have reached their goals thanks to our incredible supporters—that’s you! Roots of Health is one of Catapult’s first partners, and they recently delivered our first 1-year reports. This first set of reports focuses on three key areas: health, nutrition, and family planning.

A Step Toward Better Health

Women often lack access to resources regarding their reproductive health and human rights. These women need trusted leaders and sources of information in their community—that’s why Roots of Health created a Community Health Advocates program to train selected community members to become leaders and serve as liaisons to the Roots of Health staff through monthly meetings where they indicate the health needs of the larger community. They also help conduct workshop sessions in the community and dispense pregnancy tests, contraceptives and prenatal vitamins to women who need them.

Community Health Advocates in Aplaya

After just one week of training, Community Health Advocates have already had a positive impact on their community. Leni helped a woman who was unable to attend Roots of Health classes gain access to free services. Emelita advocated for a neighbor’s right to a fair wage. Community Health Advocates are not only advocates for others, but they’re a symbol of empowerment in Aplaya.

Path to Flat Bellies and Planned Pregnancies

The village of Aplaya overflows with children and pregnant women are everywhere, yet many of these women don’t feel in control of their own bodies. Roots of Health’s program taught women to understand their bodies and health. Serving the most underserved community in the area, many of these women were unable to afford family planning before. In the last year, 143 women have received free contraceptives from Roots of Health.

Growing Nutritious Food

Residents in Aplaya live in homes right by the sea that are prone to flooding. For poor families, eating nutritiously without garden space can be nearly impossible. To address this issue, Roots of Healthbuilt and delivered vertical gardens to families so they could grow their own fruits and vegetables. So many women ordered the vertical gardens, that making the gardens fast enough became a challenge—in the end, Roots of Health surpassed their goal for 50 gardens and made 52.

We’re excited to share the real impact you helped make. This is just the first set of one-year project updates we’ve received on Catapult, with many more coming. We can’t wait to share more results with you. These reports show the real impact of the work you funded. See it, track it, share it.

 
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