Iron-Poor Blood No More

What would you do if your little one was suffering from anemia and you didn’t have access to iron pills at the corner drugstore? Well, in Castrovirreyna you’d add iron-rich dehydrated alpaca blood to soups, omelets, and other cooked foods. And where would you get this novel dietary supplement? You’d process it yourself.

An animal smaller than, but similar to the llama, the alpaca is native to the mountainous terrain and thin air of the high Andes. Alpaca is prized for its soft wool and meat and also as a light pack animal. Its blood is an excellent source of iron and protein.

Local partner CEDINCO monitors under-five children for malnutrition from a variety of causes like parasites and anemia. In addition to encouraging program participants to develop and improve their agricultural practices in fields, greenhouses and kitchen gardens, CEDINCO holds health and nutrition workshops in the communities to reinforce prior training in improved home hygiene, sanitation and nutrition habits. Popular training sessions include presenting and preparing recipes so that families have a number of delicious ways to incorporate what they grow in their increasingly healthy diets.

Recent workshops covered the methods for extracting, drying and storing sangrecita (dehydrated blood). Sangrecita can be made from the blood of any animal, including chickens, but since alpaca is readily at hand in these communities, it is what they use.

Monthly health assessments reinforce the ability of program mothers to continue taking measures to control the anemia. These women demonstrate a great deal of interest in the workshops because they’ve witnessed the transformation in the health, energy, and scholastic output of their children. They especially see the value in adding sangrecita to meals as a way for their smallest kids to recover from anemia or keep from getting it in the first place.

For families with children known to be anemic, CEDINCO staff conducts household visits for more individualized assistance and monitoring.

Peru Castrovirreyna Program
Led by Lutheran World Relief and Local Partner CEDINCO

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