No Wasted Lives celebrates women in science: claire godbout
Based in the Pujehun District in Sierra Leone, 200 miles south-east of the capital Freetown, Claire Godbout has been working with Project Peanut Butter for a year and a half. Since last November, she’s been involved in the Hi-MAM study, supported by No Wasted Lives, managing and implementing the 22 humanitarian feeding clinics in the district. The research project is testing new ways to treat children with moderate acute malnutrition. Across 21 villages, Claire’s team is working with so-called ‘lead mothers’ who give bi-weekly training sessions to other women in their village on subjects such as breastfeeding, detection of malnutrition, nutrition, and hygiene, as well as cognitive development.
“It’s really exciting for me that we have women in all the various communities who are educated about all the different topics. They can then go around, and motivate all the other mothers in their village. If the mothers have the right information, they can choose to make the right decisions for themselves and their families.”
Female empowerment also played a big part in Claire’s journey into science. Even though maths and science didn’t come naturally to her growing up, she was encouraged by her mother who herself is an environmental scientist. “She always told me I should check out science classes.” As a woman in science, Claire always felt supported by strong and motivating women. “They provided a really good example of what I hoped that I could be one day”, she says, looking back.
In the end, it was her curiosity to understand the world, which became the driver for Claire to get into science. “Seeing all the developments happening in the world, and seeing that that all comes back to science, showed me that I wanted to be part of something that is helping to discover new things, and helping to evolve the world – that’s exactly what science does.” After graduating in Nutrition from Washington State University, Claire went on to work as a research volunteer, investigating malnutrition treatment in West Africa.
For the future, Claire hopes that the scientific field will start to utilise all the talent that’s out there:
“I hope there will be really strong real-life examples and role-models for other women to see out there, because that’s why I had such a positive experience”.