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Nicaraguan Dads Are Key to Their Family's Health

By Christian Meléndez-López

All photos by Christian Meléndez-López/CRS

A father's active role as caretaker of his family is vital, sometimes making the difference between life and death for his wife and children. By supporting a dad's participation in family life, a Catholic Relief Services project in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, is helping reduce the number of mother and newborn deaths as a result of childbirth.

Through the Child Survival project, men in 125 rural communities were able to improve their family's health by taking a more active role in infant care and household chores—shifting the perception that chores such as changing diapers or cooking are for women only. With community support, fathers are learning about the health needs of women and babies, and families are healthier as a result. The program has improved the well-being of nearly 114,000 women and children.

Christian Meléndez-López is the web editor of She is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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