Faces of Takamol - Dr. Ghada Al Bandak

Dr. Ghada Al Bandak - Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Science,
Head of Nutrition and Dietetics at the American University of Madaba
Grantee of USAID Takamol’s Research Consortium.

Interviewed by Tala Abdel-Hadi, an AUM Alumni from department of languages who received recently a job at USAID-Takamol

"I had been thinking about my research for a while and, for a long time, it was only in my imagination. What I did know was that I would like to do something specific for women. As I was conducting my research in rural areas, I met with people of all sorts in order to better understand the status of health and nutritional awareness among these communities, interviewing a variety that ranged from sick to healthy, and from illiterate to well read.

It was challenging to communicate my questions to most women, as there are countless amounts of misconceptions surrounding healthy eating habits. For example, some women believed that “healthy” food was equivalent to “food that is cleaned well”. Also, there is the factor of control from the husband’s side as most women end up cooking what their husbands and families want to eat, consuming the main meal in the evening after their husbands return home from work. There are no gyms in these areas, or any room to walk. These factors all contribute heavily to the dietary decisions made.

Many women, however, were searching for answers and seeking counseling. They were asking questions about weight loss, breastfeeding, and pregnancy. They recognized that there is a problem, but were unaware how to solve it due to lack of services. During one field visit with the students from the university, we conducted a series of blood tests among women and men living in these areas who realized after testing that unfortunately, many were diabetic and did not even know it. Women need to be empowered in order to make independent and intentional decisions about their diet."

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