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Linkages and LLLI - An International Partnership

Maryanne Stone-Jimenez
Training and Community Coordinator,
LINKAGES
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 37 No. 1, February-March 2001, p. 24

LINKAGES is a global behavior change project which focuses on four components: optimal breastfeeding practices, the timely introduction of complementary feeding, Lactational Amenorreha Method (LAM), and maternal nutrition. The Academy for Educational Development (AED), La Leche League International (LLLI), Wellstart International (WSI), Populations Services International (PSI, a social marketing project), CARE, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), and World Vision (WV) have formed a consortium to work together toward the design and implementation of strategies that contribute to improved infant feeding behaviors, maternal nutrition, and the use of LAM.

LLLI has contributed its mother-to-mother support group expertise through the design of a Training of Trainers module for non-government organizations (NGOs), Ministries of Health and the private sector to train community-based health care volunteers to lead breastfeeding mother-to-mother support groups within their communities. LINKAGES has contracted LLL Leaders to field test the Mother-to-Mother Support Group training module (Ghana) as well as the LAM module (Nicaragua), to implement trainings in breastfeeding mother-to-mother support groups to NGOs (Bolivia and Niger), and to provide training in volunteer testing and counseling to women who live in an area of high HIV prevalence (Zambia).

LINKAGES is also working with La Leche League of Guatemala to test the well-known and widespread strategy for promoting breastfeeding: mother-to-mother support groups. This study tests the hypothesis that La Leche League of Guatemala breastfeeding support (including mother-to-mother support groups and home visits) improves breastfeeding practices at the community level. A second hypothesis tests whether increasing the ratio of breastfeeding counselors to women of reproductive age results in significantly higher rates of exclusive breastfeeding and lower rates of bottle usage among children less than six months old.

At the Regional Latin American workshop in Puerto Rico, November 14-15, 2000, 35 LLL Leaders from Puerto Rico, Mexico, Central and South America participated in a Mother-to-Mother Support Group training. Their training was funded by LINKAGES and UNICEF and was given by LLL of Guatemala and Maryanne Stone-Jimenez. These trained LLL Leaders now form a national cadre of trainers able to provide technical assistance to local and national private voluntary organizations, government entities, and non-governmental organizations in the formation of community-based mother-to-mother support groups.

Specific Objectives of the Training of Trainers:
  • Train LLL Leaders in participatory methodology of training breastfeeding counselors in breastfeeding and complementary feeding basics, and the formation of Community-bases Mother-to-Mother Support Groups;
  • Share a Training Guide with LLL Leaders for future trainings in their countries;
  • Share and adapt materials for the training;
  • Discuss follow-up activities for the breastfeeding counselors;
  • Share the Community Information System designed by LLL Guatemala to collect data.

Training Opportunities for Leaders

Rebecca Magalhães
LLLI Action and Development Director
Maryanne Stone-Jimenez
Training and Community Coordinator, LINKAGES

As interest in breastfeeding and mother-to-mother support has increased over the past few years, LLL Leaders have been contracted individually by national and international agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to work on specific projects or to provide technical assistance on particular breastfeeding activities. For example, starting in the late 1970s and early 1980s, LLL Leaders from Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Germany, and Kenya were involved in both LLLI and non-LLLI projects and activities. Some of the individual work of Leaders was the byproduct of the LLLI Child Survival Project, implemented from 1988-1992.

The basis for these consultancies was virtually the individual Leader's experience and her work as a volunteer for breastfeeding promotion and support. For the most part, these Leaders had not received specific training or authority from LLLI for this work, and were acting as individuals rather than as LLL Leaders.

To increase the potential for LLLI to be involved in the provision of technical assistance in breastfeeding and mother-to-mother support, LLLI received funding to compile a list of LLL Leaders residing in developing countries who are willing and able to provide this type of assistance. The list will be shared with private voluntary organizations who are implementing breastfeeding promotion and support programs in low-income communities.

As interest in breastfeeding and mother-to-mother support continues to increase, the unique expertise of the LLL Leader will be more and more important and needed. If you are interested in further training opportunities please contact:

Rebecca Magalhães
Director, Action and Development
LLLI
957 N. Plum Grove Road
Schaumburg, IL 60173-5194 USA

Phone: 847-519-7730, ext. 260
Fax: 202-847-0035
Email: contact form
Maryanne Stone-Jimenez
Training and Community Coordinator
AED/LINKAGES
1825 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington DC 20009-5721 USA

Phone: 202-884-8367
Fax: 202-884-8977
Email: mstone at aed.org
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