Why I want to become a nutritionist!
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My name is Olga, I’m 15 years old and I am President of the Kasaï Oriental young reporters. For World Children’s Day, UNICEF asked me where I see myself in 2030. Here is my answer, with my dreams for my future and those of the children in my province.
First, let me introduce myself.
In October 2016, I was trained on the rights of the child as well as petitioning and involvement techniques to become a Young Reporter. Since then, I have participated in many activities to make changes in my province: I give presentations in schools on the rights of the child, we have appealed to the authorities for the granting of free birth certificates, we have raised funds for the child victims of the violence occurring in the Kasaï region, etc.
Within my family, I have to be a role model for my brothers and sisters: I am the oldest. I come from an ordinary neighbourhood in the town of Mbuji Mayi (Kasaï-Oriental). My mother is a seamstress and my father works for a mining company.
It all began with a medical appointment…
At the age of 5, when I was in my first year of primary school, I had some problems with my sight. My parents were worried because they didn’t know what to do to improve my vision. It was at a medical appointment at school that the doctor and ophthalmologist identified the problem: I had a vitamin A deficiency, found in foods like palm nuts, carrots etc. Despite everyone’s best efforts, my sight problem didn’t really improve: I wear medical glasses to this day! But this experience got me interested in eating well, nutrition and diet.
When I was 12, I had a choice to make: I had just finished my second year of high school and, in order to move into humanities, I needed a focus. So I asked my parents and teachers if there was an area concerned with the diet of children. As the answer was yes, my choice was quickly made: nutrition!
Spreading good practice to ensure a bright future!
So I fed my dream to become a nutritionist, to care for vulnerable malnourished children in my province and to raise awareness in the community about how to adopt good dietary habits. My dream is to become a nutritionist and dietitian serving everyone. I want to save the lives of malnourished children by caring for them but also by working on prevention. We need to raise awareness in the community and amongst parents about consuming local nutritious foods as well as making appeals to local authorities.
In my province, there are serious issues concerning nutrition: one in ten children suffer from severe acute malnutrition and one in two from chronic malnutrition. Families are not respecting good practice for infant and young child feeding. This good practice is, however, crucial for the brain’s healthy development. Poor nutrition can have serious consequences: stunted growth, limited cognitive ability, etc.
Raising awareness amongst parents, the community and authorities is essential. Article 24 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that every child has the right to be and to remain in good health. Malnutrition is a ticking time bomb! If today one in every two children suffer from malnutrition, that figure will be one in every two adults by 2030.