Students use their education to help people in Cameroon
Stephanie Bechtle and Lauren Reed, both seniors majoring in dietetics, spent June 2011 sharing their nutrition knowledge with the people of Cameroon, Africa.
“This was our last summer [as students], and we figured we should do something worthwhile using our education,” said Bechtle, president of NDSU’s Student Dietetic Association.
Bechtle, who is from Wishek, N.D., and Reed, who is from Jamestown, N.D., applied their skills at a hospital in Cameroon that was built by the conference their hometown churches belong to. They funded the trip by writing letters to friends and family asking for support.
Before the trip, the hospital identified HIV nutrition, diabetes education and prenatal nutrition as key topics. Bechtle and Reed used the American Dietetic Association online evidence-based library to research these health issues. Their NDSU professors also served as resources, they said.
Bechtle and Reed led two days of Nutrition Bible School, which was attended by 40 children. They helped the children memorize Bible verses, sang songs, played games and taught nutrition points.
They also gave a nutrition presentation to 75 medical staff members, including doctors, nurses and medical students. Their presentation addressed diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, prenatal and infant nutrition, amenia and HIV.
Bechtle and Reed wrote materials for the hospital and updated patient handouts. In addition, they wrote a request to the Cameroon health board asking for different multivitamins since the ones the hospital received lacked several nutrients.