I take it for granted that I have educated parents. What we have been encountering in Gonett, a small community in the provinces of Buenos Aires, are the consequences of children having parents who do not have the access to a similar type of education. I am only making this judgement from what I have seen here in this small section of a large country in the last 7 months. We, SOG, are operating a soup kitchen with activities for around 25 children. This is not a large sample size, and I have not been doing this kind of work for very long, but what I think I know is that the basic health education that my parents have, many parents here don’t have.
On a regular basis we have children as young as 3 years old that can’t eat the food on their plate because they are in too much pain from an aching tooth. It is a common theme to see young children with smiles that display many tones of earthly colours. I hated the constant nagging from my mother to brush my teeth before I went to bed. I only wish these kids had nagging mothers.
I’m sure most kids from where I grew up have heard the “eat your greens or you won’t get any dessert” line before. Here it seems to be all dessert and no greens. The tuck shop at one school that I went to was all sweets. I was amazed how there was not one piece of healthy food to be seen. (I think I’m starting to sound like my mother). Coca cola and chewing gum are all too commonplace. Diets that consist of rice, pasta, bread and sugar. Health problems are prevalent from a diet that lacks sufficient nutritional value. It is also no wonder that children have behaviour problems. They are constantly battling with sugar highs. “and what goes up, must come down.”
I now look back and thank my parents for making me wash every day. Judging by the smell and dirtiness of some of the children, I can only guess that some of these children might wash once a week. Stale urine is not a smell I will ever get used to, but I am definitely getting better at tolerating it. This is not the case with all of the kids at our project but if 6 kids out of 25 constantly come to the venue smelling bad, I wonder how many other kids in the area have the same level of hygiene.
So, thanks Mum and Dad for enforcing some routines in our household. I guess that they were lucky enough to be part of a system where health education is a given. I suppose that SOG is lucky enough to be in the situation where hopefully we can teach children to enforce these routines on their children in the future. Here lies the challenge….