Vitamins and education – a Connected to Care project in Egypt
As part of the 150th anniversary activities of BASF in 2015, the company created a global corporate volunteering team contest called “Connected to Care.” Together with social organizations, many employees provided their knowledge, manpower and time to have a positive impact on society. The competition was a big success, generating more than 500 projects – 150 of which have been selected and implemented with financial support from BASF.
One such project is “Vitamins and education for pregnant women, young mothers and children in Egypt.” A team from BASF Egypt joined forces with the Rotarian Action Group for Population & Development (RFPD). This organization has been supporting projects for women in slum areas in Egypt for more than ten years and provided the project with existing infrastructure and volunteers. The project’s aim is to improve the living conditions of people in low income areas of Alexandria, focusing on vulnerable groups like pregnant women, young mothers and children by giving them access to medical services and free nutritional supplements. The project has been running successfully since the end of 2016.
In Egypt, more than 30% of all children under the age of five suffer from malnutrition; according to a World Bank publication, 22% of pregnant women are vitamin-deficient. The micronutrient most commonly lacking is vitamin A, which is important for wound healing, eyesight and healthy skin. A lack of vitamin A results in a weak immune system, increased child mortality and susceptibility to diseases like tuberculosis or pneumonia.
As part of the project, a volunteering doctor provides consultations every few weeks and assigns the proper vitamin intake, depending on the level of malnutrition. Following the first consultation, the team provides the women and children with the free nutritional supplements containing essential vitamin A produced and sponsored by BASF. From then on, the women are provided with their monthly vitamin supply at a local clinic. The idea behind the project is to combine vitamin A with the access to basic education. Following the consultations, the women are provided with medical information to increase health awareness for themselves and their babies. In addition, the women can take part in literacy and numeracy classes organized and held by volunteers of the project team, thus learning how to read, write and perform basic arithmetic.
The project aims at building a closer relationship with the local women in need, thus keeping future mothers healthy and giving babies the best possible start to life.
The successful project is now led by an experienced core team of about five local members with about 20 to 40 people (students, volunteers, doctors, social workers, etc.) who support the project work.