"I won't spend too much time talking with you as I know you are all very busy," I said. A look of utter disbelief and tentative outrage on every face in the room. A long moment of excruciating silence-then gales of laughter from Bhu and his fellow officers. Vietnamese is a tonal language. Choose the wrong tone and you are in deep trouble. Instead of saying ban (busy) with a level tone, I had used a falling tone (ban). The result: my opening salutation was, "I won't spend too much time talking with you as I know you are all very dirty!" So much for my dazzling entry! Mr. Bhu spent little time on...
poor," and "very, very poor" as accurate descriptors of the economic status of almost all village families. When they completed their rankings, we gathered the volunteers beneath the corrugated tin roof of the commune's town hall. Stout timbers
Simple idea, really. The "somersault question" draws on the concept of inversion. It turns circular logic on its head by looking at an issue the other way around. (Akin to the adage: "The chicken is the egg's way of reproducing itself.") All that was required was mirroring back the sweeping generalizations regarding village malnutrition. The common explanation of the cause of malnutrition was poverty. We asked the volunteers if any of the well-nourished children came from "very, very poor" families. They looked at the tally. Several
Measuring the impact of a nutrition program is as simple as putting a child on a scale and waiting for the measuring needle to come to rest. Ability to measure is a powerful reinforcer of behavioral change. Not only is measurement simple and easily understandable to caregivers, but change is rapid. In two weeks a child can gain a few hundred grams. A caretaker witnesses not only the progress on a weight chart, but the change in the behavior of her child. One of our favorite "complaints" from participating moms, especially grandmothers, was, "Our little one is `naughty' now." (One ruefully observed...