It should come as no surprise that malnutrition often leads to poor dental hygiene, stunted growth, diarrhea and other ailments — all of which are a sad reality in poverty-stricken countries like Afghanistan.
It’s a reality that 49-year-old Calgarian Heather Bellamy has spent the last seven years working to change. Bellamy lived in the remote village of Bamiyan, Afghanistan from Spring 2002 until just last month.
In Bamiyan, she helped build a five-acre women and family park, complete with a two-storey teahouse and canteen, a greenhouse and a horticultural training area, the eventual training ground for 18 newly employed Afghan locals.
One successful graduate was 21-year-old orphan Amin-Jali, wounded after stepping on a landmine when he was only 16. Amin now works as both a waiter and a cook at the park, says Bellamy.
But he is just one success story to come from the construction of this educational parcel of land. Even harder to read is the long-term success measured in the changing dietary patterns of the community.
“They scraped by with so little it was painful to watch,” says Bellamy, recalling the toothless grins of mothers who had too little calcium in their diet while breastfeeding and families torn apart by illnesses.