Nutrition, The First 1,000 Days: Life and Death

On October 6-17, Stephen M. Colecchi, director of USCCB’s Office of International Justice and Peace, traveled to Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania as part of an ecumenical delegation of Christian leaders sponsored by Bread for the World. This is the first of a four-part series in which Dr. Colecchi shares his experiences of Africa, where he witnessed firsthand the plight of poverty and malnutrition faced by many people, especially children.

The contrast could not have been starker: tiny listless children, two in each hospital bed, attended by their concerned mothers; jubilant women chanting and dancing as smiling children angled to get their pictures taken.

I encountered both poignant scenes during a recent visit to Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania with an ecumenical delegation of Christian leaders sponsored by Bread for the World. In a way the two images capture both the problem and the solution to mother and child nutrition. Our delegation visited these African countries to learn more about the 1,000 days movement, which aims to improve maternal and child nutrition during the critical first 1,000 days of life from conception to age two.

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